Join our international team in the spectacular city of Cape Town and work with children from the local townships while developing teaching experience and qualifications on...
Play a hands-on role in the long-term conservation of African wildlife on this expedition. Enjoy first-class wildlife viewing and live on a game reserve in the heart of Southern...
Discover the world of marine conservation in Mexico's crystal Caribbean waters of the Yucatan Peninsula. Group members will earn their PADI Open Water diving qualification...
Set foot in the culturally rich country of India and contribute to our sustainable community development projects. Volunteers will assist in the local community of Kerala...
South Africa volunteer
Submitted by shareef haq - San Diego, CA United States | November 20, 2017
I choose to volunteer Karongwe, South Africa program for a month this past September. I found it quite exciting as well as educational. The experience made my passion for wildlife conservation even stronger (I also participated in an another conservation in Namibia in the past). The staff was very helpful. Base Manager Leah was very open and helped with adjusting to the new environment as well as staff members Greg, Malen, and others. Learning behaviors of animals up close and personal gave additional appreciation for wildlife for me. Also, the community program ran by staff member Faith was excellent. Teaching local kids in Africa and helping build schools is a great way to combine the the conservation efforts. I plan on going to the GVI Thailand marine conservation next year.
Looking for something new
Submitted by Thomas Lowe - Newcastle England | November 17, 2017
I’ll start with just a brief history of myself I’m 31 years old, left school at 18, decided against going to university and since then worked within the retail sector as a floor manager.
I have no previous education in relation to wildlife or wildlife conservation but I have always had a keen interest, just never really knew where to begin.
The decision to quit my job and try something new was slightly daunting, but I can happily say that I made the right decision. My experience with GVI has given me the direction and inspiration I’ve always lacked to get more involved and hopefully have a career doing something I feel so passionate about.
The day to day life on base involves going out on drive each morning (5am) and afternoon (3pm) with the main focus of tracking the animals using telemetry and collecting data. This is where you will get up close with an array of animals including the big 5 (lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, rhino) so be sure to bring a camera you will definitely need it. Twenty minutes into my very first drive we encountered a mother cheetah and her four beautiful eight week old cubs about 50 meters away feeding on a freshly killed Impala.
The impact of the program on the ground was a privilege to be a part of, waking up at 4.30am for morning drive and not knowing what you might see is a great feeling to wake up to. Everything you do on a day to day basis is a learning experience, but its done in a such a way that you don’t realise its happening. No classroom or website could have taught me in a month what I learnt during my time on Karongwe and not just the surrounding wildlife, but conservation, culture and history.
The staff were all phenomenal and went above and beyond to make everyone feel at home and within two days it was. Facilities on base are basic, depending on the weather you could go without power for a couple of days and the elephants love to play with the water pump which meant we had no showers for 24 hours. I personally dont look back on these as negatives and just the reality of being where you are and becoming fully immersed in the experience.
Saturday night is braai (bbq) and an opportunity to enjoy a few drinks, sit around a huge fire and take in the nights sky, seeing the Milky Way spread across the sky is something you to experience yourself. Sunday is your day off with the opportunity to take a day trip out (Kruger national park) or simply relax on the veranda, nothing more surreal than reading a book and noticing two giraffes walk into your yard.
To anybody taking a gap year or looking for a career break or simply wanting to try something new I cannot recommend GVI enough, you will meet some incredible people and get to be apart of something truly worthwhile and rewarding.
I had a truly amazing 6 weeks
Submitted by Imogen Manley - Bournemouth university | November 17, 2017
I’m a second-year student at Bournemouth university, during my time here I have to do a placement for 10 weeks over first and second year. I decided to take my time abroad and look into conservation and the ways that different conservation issues are affecting the lives of different endangered animals.
I decided to take my travels to Greece in hope of working with the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. On the day I arrived I was welcomed by three of the GVI staff, Sebastian Hoefer, William Hayes and Alyssa Kirkham. It was a warm and friendly welcome making me feel part of the GVI family as soon as I landed. I went to find the rest of the volunteers and interns and met a few of the people I would be spending the next six weeks with.
Once we arrived in camp we were given dinner and told where our tents were and our routine for the next day, due to arriving late we were given our tour the next day and as soon as the router was put up I saw I was on night survey. Although I was nervous, I was extremely excited and everyone showed me exactly what we had to do. We were told about the different surveys we would be helping on such as:
- Morning survey
- Night survey
- Hatchlings on morning survey
- Data base
- Nest check
I was on beach A south where we saw seven turtles and tagged three. The first turtle I saw was amazed by, seeing the fantastic creatures walk up the beach and dig an egg chamber and lay their eggs. Whilst they were laying we had to time how long the process took and measure the turtle and check it was in good health and then tag and pit tag the turtle, noting everything down in the night survey books. We then would add a string into the egg chamber ready for the people on morning survey to be able to find the egg chamber in the morning. We then paroled the beaches whilst looking at the stars, even spotting some shooting stars with the sound of the waves crashing against the shore accompanying us.
A few mornings after I was put on morning survey, this means we got up early to see if any eggs had been laid by nesting sea turtles in the night. On my first morning survey our leader, Helena Zepetes, ensured she talked me through each step of the morning survey, from finding the egg chamber, measuring the distance from the chamber to the top of the sand, getting the exact location using GPS, finding the distance to sea and how everything was supposed to be noted down in the morning survey book. This was helpful as I knew I had to lead one of these morning surveys for my internship in a few weeks to come! On this particular morning we found six nests and had two relocations. It was fascinating to see my first nest and learn how we are helping to protect these endangered species. Finding my first nest chamber and feeling the “pop” of the nest is one of the most rewarding things to happen whilst on my trip.
I decided to do an internship to help further my knowledge when looking into sea turtle conservation. This means that I had added work to complete such as making a presentation, leading an activity, and also leading a morning survey. I had to make sure I had written a risk assessment, EAP (Emergency Action Plan) I also had to look into Tuckerman’s stages of development, SMART stages, Communication and conflict. This made me look into the activities in further detail. My intern leader was Sebasitian Hoefer and I couldn’t have asked for a more friendly and dedicated person to help me whilst away. He ensured I was happy with the work but also that I was happy in camp and if there was anything I was struggling with or needed help with he would put his 100% dedication and effort into helping me. I would like to thank him for everything and for making everything unforgettable for me.
One of my favourite memories from Greece was being on morning survey, as I was helping lead the survey (before the real thing) and I was with my intern leader and some of the closest friends I have made on the trip. As we were walking along D south/ C one of the girls screamed “HATCHLINGS”. We all ran over to see 13 tiny hachlings the size of a matchbox crawling out of the nest. We helped shade them one by one down to sea. Seeing the excitement on everyone’s faces and the thrill of finally seeing a baby turtle brought joy into everyone’s day, taking pictures and videos of how we were helping these tiny endangered species down to sea showed that all of our hard work had helped with protecting them! I have never ever had a prouder moment in my life.
After hatchlings the morning surveys had started which meant that excavations had also begun. This happened 10 days after the eggs had hatched, we dug up the nest to look at hatchling success and to open the unhatched eggs to see why they were unable to hatch. This can be due to infection, worms, and many other reasons. Although the smell was horrendous, this was one of my favourite parts due to being able to see the science behind the unhatched eggs and finding hatchlings that were still trying to get to sea and guiding them in the right direction. We also saw a rare albino turtle whilst doing an excavation. This was sad as due to it being deformed meaning it didn’t live to get to sea.
Whilst away we decided to travel to see different places in Greece and to discover the local culture and sample traditional Greek food. We travelled to Kalarnero, Kalamata, Kyprissia, Methoni and Zakynthos. We also tried different Greek food such as Gyros, Greek Salad, and Souvlaki. This gave me different experiences of the Greek culture and way of life. We also visited small local shops in Giannasochori.
The range of different people that I shared my Greek experience with means I now know people from all over the world who are as passionate about conservation as I am, and I have made friends for life. It was an amazing experience which I never wanted to end and would recommend to anyone interested in this area. Thank you my GVI family. I had a truly amazing 6 weeks living in a tent on a beach in Greece, learning so much about myself and the wonderful world around me.
Program: Volunteer with Turtles in Greece
Cape Town South Africa volunteering with children
Submitted by Hunter Hutchings - Olds Canada | November 15, 2017
Global Visions International is an amazing organization. The program I was involved with made a huge impacting helping children ages 3-7. During my 6 weeks volunteering I was able to see so much change in the children. From not being able to speak any English to after only 6 weeks being able to comprehend and speak simple words and phrases understanding so much better. This allowed them to engage with other children and express themselves in a more positive way. The impact made in such a short time is motivating to want to do more. 6 weeks went by incredibly fast during my stay I met so many new and amazing people that life on project was never a dull moment. Constant laughter and happiness from all volunteers and GVI staff made my trip personally amazing. The staff members GVI has employed are also inspiring people that are there for you every step of the way. Anything you need they are there to help. After project this organization has motivated me to try to further my volunteer work by helping others and educated me on worldwide problems that require our help. The staff and other volunteers also become life long friends constantly keeping in touch with connections all around the world.Global visions international is an organization that is changing lives around the world.
Age is no barrier
Submitted by Ann Wittering - Ludlow England | November 10, 2017
First thing to say is that it was great fun and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. The fact that I was much older (70) than all the other volunteers seemed to matter not a jot and I found everyone so lovely and welcoming. Being around so many bright and caring young people was a pleasure. We got on like a house on fire. I opted to stay in a local hotel which was located just around the corner from the GVI Homestay so very convenient.
My favourite projects by far were those that addressed women's issues - three of us went to Tejus, a home for sexually abused teenagers. Another project was contributing to a state-wide Women's Initiatives Network programme which was the most rewarding thing I did - these women are amazing - building up businesses and standing on their own feet after being widowed, divorced or just downtrodden by their families. Another project took me right back to my previous teaching experience in the middle east - a residential school for adults wanting to improve their prospects with improved English. They were great.
But, personally, I felt some of the projects were not particularly well thought-out. For example, twice a week we went to a home for destitute, often mentally ill, men and women where our objective was to keep them occupied for a couple of hours with arts and crafts and a bit of sport. Many of them were drugged up to the eyeballs and participation was spasmodic. We also taught English to some children in a Muslim school - fine, but nothing to do with what I went out for - Women's Empowerment. The problem with that lies, I think, in the fact that the long-term manager of the WE programme, Katrin, left just as I got there to return to Germany. Her replacement was a lovely local Indian woman, but she was unprepared and ill-equipped to step into her shoes and was relying heavily on the expertise of some of the volunteers who will not be there permanently. She needs much more support and training.
As far as GVI catering for mature volunteers, I do think you might want to pay more than lip-service to this. One small example is the nature of the documentation which we were all required to complete prior to arrival asking for next-of-kin details. Nowhere was there the opportunity to put 'husband' or 'wife', only 'other family member'! I would also personally have welcomed more about the projects before going out so that I could prepare some material rather than getting a lesson plan sorted on the morning of the project. I realise this is not always feasible but I think GVI should consider such possibilities, especially if you want to get the best out of your two-week volunteers.
That said, it was a super experience and one I'll remember for a long time to come. GVI is doing excellent work and you are to be congratulated. However, it is your volunteers who make GVI work, and so vitally important they get the most out of them.
Program: Women's Empowerment Project in India