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Affordable Volunteer Abroad Programs: from USD 10 per day

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Volunteering in Antingua Guatemala

My experience volunteering in Guatemala was amazing. I loved teaching English to elementary school children and interacting with my homestay family. I felt everyone I met was extremely friendly and caring. The food was excellent and I felt safe the whole time I was there. I also loved meeting other volunteers who were either staying in my homestay or teaching English with me. This was my first experience volunteering and I didn't know what to expect. At 18, I was the youngest volunteer and at first I was a little nervous because I was traveling alone. Everything worked out better than I ever imagined. I did my volunteer work in the morning and enjoyed the sites in the afternoon and evenings. It was a great experience that helped me brush up on my Spanish, learn about the culture, and meet other volunteers. I had a lot of fun and am ready to volunteer again.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Best valuable time of my life - short yet sweet!

My time spent volunteering at Cape Town was truly awesome and rewarding. Even though I was there for just one week and I was on the holiday program, it felt like I was there for a long period of time. The volunteers who I stayed and worked with were a lovely bunch and I had a great time hanging out with them. The holiday program was useful as we got to help and advise students on how to write CVs, engage in workshops, attend talks about bullying and also, got to attend a field trip to Cape Point! I had a fantastic time in Cape Town and would definitely go there again in a heartbeat!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Few days in the Amazonas

the adventure begins, I was so nervous, I didn´t know what to expect when i arrived, but when I get there everything was more that i was expecting, been able to live for two weeks in the Amazonas was something that change the way I take care of the environment. when you are there and see all the beauty of the place, all the animals, the big trees, the births, and in the night watch all the stars without any other sound but the one that the animals make it takes your breath. You wake up with the sound of animals, in the afternoon you watch the sunset and is wonderful all the different colors you get to see in the sky.
All the hard work they do to make there a better place is incredible. All the things you do it won´t change the word the next day, but you put a part of your self there, and that makes you part of something more bigger, something that in a few years o months you can go back and watch how your hard work help to improve the place.
I only was able to be there for two weeks, I wish my time there where longer, so I could make more things, and learn much more.
In the jungle the things are so unpredictable, so I think that the if you stay for a longer period of time, you can get to see so many different things.

It was a experience of a life time.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Amazing

I was in Ghana for 12 weeks and I can honestly say it has been the best experience of my life. The children were excellent, and so loving and all the local people I met were so friendly! Local staff are very helpful- especially Evans, for always checking up on us and making sure the other volunteers in turquoise and I were doing well. He made my experience much better because of all the support in country and out! I also met some really cool people and have made so many friends. Travelling to Cape Coast, Mole National Park, Wli Waterfalls, and so many other places on the weekends was so much fun! The local staff in my program were also helpful, thanks to Seth, Francis and Stephen. I will never forget the memories I made and the people I met!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Healthcare education and traveling around Bali

I loved everything about the experience! Bali is the perfect destination to travel solo because you meet so many like-minded individuals along the way. I made many new friends from different countries and I will likely see some of them in the future. The volunteer experience itself was quite the challenge but challenges are motivators for me! The language barrier pushed me to think outside the box. My job was to teach children basic hygiene in the English language. To accomplish this, I opted for hands on activities. For example, I demonstrated proper teeth brushing technique by bringing my own tooth brush and bringing some for the children as well. I also created posters to teach the basic function of the heart and lungs and habits that help maintain these organs healthy. Outside of volunteering as a teacher, I also had the opportunity to work with construction and renovation on the days the children had holidays. We also participated in the local community by cleaning the village in support of its celebrations. It's rewarding to see the fruit of your labor and the gratitude expressed by the people!

Ubud is Bali's cultural center and I had the opportunity to experience some of the local celebrations such as Nyepi (silent day/New Year) and Galungan (victory of good over evil). The effort that the Balinese people put into their day to day religious practices is admirable and inspiring! Traveling around Ubud I found several pleasant waterfalls, rice fields, and the hidden canyons which were so much fun to trek! Outside of Ubud, I trekked Mount Batur to catch a stunning sunrise with friends. I also travelled to Uluwatu temple and to northern Bali to visit Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, both of which are majestic! Fiji and Grombong waterfalls are also worth traveling to on a day trip. Find a guide that will jump off of the rock with you! Nusa Penida is also a must! There you will find much less tourism and amazing views. I went to the broken sea, Angel's Billabong, Atuh beach, Crystal Bai, and Kelingking secret point. These are some of the most beautiful sites and beaches I have ever seen. I also traveled to Nusa Lembongan to watch the waves crashing on the Devil’s Tear and for a dip into Dream beach. I ended my trip on Gili Trawangan, an island off of Lombok, snorkeling and relaxing on the swings out on the beach. I think a month is not enough time to see everything you want to see and still give back to the community. I suggest a minimum of 5-6 weeks to truly enjoy the experience and the sites around Bali.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Best experience ever

When I traveled to Cusco, Perú, it was my first time traveling outside of Mexico and the U.S., it was also my first time traveling alone. I did not know what to expect and I was very nervous. The first day I got there I made so many friends! Everybody was so nice and everybody was so inviting. I never felt alone or left out. I was working the construction program and it was hard work but it was really fun. We were building a school bathroom and when the kids got out of school they would stay there and talk to us for a while. Now I am signed up to go to Cartagena, Colombia the childcare program and I am so excited to go!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Volunteering in Ghana

I volunteered in Ghana (Turquoise) through February and March of 2017. Originally I was only supposed to be there for 4 weeks (February) but it was so amazing that I extended for another four weeks! IVHQ was amazing at making me feel prepared before I left and they helped me a lot when I extended my trip. The accommodation was really simple but nice and we had electricity often even. The area it was in felt safe and the people were very kind to us and eager to teach us about Ghanaian culture. My roommate and I both did childcare and went to a local orphanage in the mornings and afternoons to assist the kids in getting ready for school/their day and helping with their homework. We also went to a school and graded papers and helped tutor certain kids. The kids were absolutely amazing and some of the happiest children you'll ever meet-it's truly inspiring. The staff is great, especially Evans, and they really do their best to make sure you have a fun trip while getting the most out of your time there and that you always feel safe. My second month there I was pretty sick the whole time and Stephen took my roommate and me to the local clinic to get blood work done and medications and an IV and that was greatly appreciated because having someone there definitely made the whole process easier. I also definitely recommend taking advantage of the weekends to travel Ghana because each region varies quite a bit. My roommate and I went to Cape Coast, Kokrobite, Mole National Park, The Wli Waterfalls to name a couple places worthy of a visit. No matter where you go, make sure you do as much as possible and try all the local food and go outside of your comfort zone. Overall, my trip was amazing and I'm definitely looking forward to going again. Ghana is an absolutely amazing place with some of the best people you'll ever meet and IVHQ definitely helps you to get a lot out of your trip! :)

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Incredible!

This was more than I could ever expect! Going to Bali and teaching kindergarten was such a fun opportunity! Each day the kids I taught were eager to learn and such a blast to teach! It was crazy how quickly I got attached to each student and how much I smiled during my four weeks there! It was so heartwarming seeing the students learn and then remembering the things I had taught them the previous week! Going there was completely out of my comfort zone and now I am so much more confident and have been changed in a way I can't quite explain by this experience! I am so glad I made the decision to take a year off from school and spend time volunteering!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

IVHQ Costa Rica- eco-agriculture

What an amazing experience! This was my first trip abroad by myself and it could not have been any better. I was a bit worried about the language barrier (I do not have any Spanish experience) but the other volunteers and staff were very helpful. There were many opportunities to practice your Spanish skills and also lots of opportunity to speak English :). I worked on a coffee farm in Monte Verde for one week and the host families were extremely accommodating and friendly. Not only did you get to drink the coffee, but you also had the opportunity to learn and participate in the coffee making process! On top of all the experience on the farm with the volunteers, there was a lot of down time for exploring. The cloud forest is very close by and is definitely a must see if you are thinking of heading to Monte Verde. Overall, I would highly recommend this program. Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone! It is scary at first but IVHQ provides you with a great support system and you are sure to meet like-minded volunteers along the way. Good luck!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

IVHQ - Ghana with Evans

Recently I traveled with IVHQ to Ghana. It was an absolutely amazing experience mainly because it was s organized. Our IVHQ Ghana team including, Jo, Benedict, and Evans was extremely helpful. Evans was great and he is a reason i would go back. He took us to the Cape Coast one weekend which was one of the best weekends of my life. Not only did he make sure that we had fun but he also made sure that we stayed safe. Evans and I stayed up one night and talked philosophy and religion. It was one of the most beautiful and sincere conversations I've ever had with anyone. Thank you Evans and thank you IVHQ for a perfect trip!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Why volunteering in Brazil was a life changing experience

I volunteered in Brazil with IVHQ for 8 weeks, and it was simply a fantastic experience. Rio is a very vibrant city, you will love it as soon as you arrive because it's magic is everywhere; breathtaking views, stunning beaches, amazing food, and extremely kind and calid people. Happiness, carnival vibes, and joy are in every corner of this city, so be prepared when you have to go back home because you will certainly not want.

On the other hand, volunteering activities will give you a different perspective in your life and will open your mind. Sadly brazilian government is very corrupted; ergo, you will perceive a lot of inequality that will break your heart. However, you will get an awesome sensation by helping the most needed people. Being one of the pieces generating change in this marvelous country, was a very rewarding feeling because these people definitely need your help.

Additionally, the local team (JIVE Brazil) will make you feel as if you are at home. Zach, Vivi and Monique will guide you through all your volunteer work, show you the city, and sometimes they will even hang out with you and the other volunteers. Miguel, will live in the house with you, and every week he will cook for the group amazing cakes, brownies or other treats, and the best part is that most of the time they are vegan, gluten and sugar free.

To sum up, I would recommend you to know a little of portuguese before traveling, not because you will need it, but because in my case speaking portuguese was a plus, as I was able to interact with the locals, get to know more about their way of living, and that way know how to help them more.

So, what are you waiting to volunteer with IVHQ, make friends from all over the world, and have one of the most amazing experiences of your life?

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

A fantastic experience

I loved volunteering with IVHQ far more than I expected to before I signed up. It was an amazing experience all around. The volunteer house was well-equipped and spacious, the staff members were incredibly helpful and friendly, and I made plenty of friends.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review April 19, 2017 at 8:33 PM

    Hi Ben, We are happy to have exceeded your expectations! It is great to hear that you had and amazing experience and that you were well supported by our friendly local team. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

IVHQ Guatemala

After landing in Guatemala City, I remember asking myself 'what are you thinking?' A young woman traveling alone to a foreign country, not knowing anyone else, or even where I would be sleeping was scary. However, it was the best decision I have ever made in my life. On this trip, I have met some of the most amazing people, seen some of the most beautiful things, and felt the strongest sense of self I ever have. From hiking Pakaya, touring the macadamia farm, shopping at the open market, walking around Antigua, visiting the cross, and going to my project, there was never a moment where I was bored. This project had influenced my life so heavily, and knowing that I have had an influence on this community will be with me for the rest of my life. If I could, I would volunteer and work with IVHQ for the rest of my life.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review April 19, 2017 at 8:16 PM

    Hi Autumn, Thanks for sharing such an awesome review from your time in Guatemala! It is inspiring to hear that this trip has allowed you to have experiences that have helped develop your sense of self. Thanks for being a great volunteer and we would love to have you join us again.
    Lachlan – IVHQ Guatemala Program Manager

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Who would have known

As I embarked on this trip I had no clue just what I was getting myself into. I always wanted to travel alone, so my first thought was to travel alone with a volunteer agency. After researching this topic for days, I finally saw that VolunteerHQ was not only the cheapest, but the most reliable in responding to questions I had, which was why I chose this organization. As the day came closer I was terrified. I had never traveled alone and I barely spoke Spanish. After watching all the videos, joining the facebook page, and preparing every document I needed, I knew that even though I did not feel ready I was ready for this. Once I arrived at the airport I met two wonderful girls. They told me how they were also volunteering and met up in Guatemala. We all went to out placements were I met four other girls and traveled Guatemala for our first day there. We were given wonderful maps and told were we should go and how we should travel to make sure we stay safe. As the two weeks went on, I was lucky enough to get at a wonderful placement with another girl who spoke Spanish. Even though I did not understand the nurses as well as I wanted to, they still made me feel comfortable and I helped take the vitals of the babies that came to this placement along with giving the babies their vaccinations. Everyday, the placement saw over 50 patients and it was interesting to be able to speed the processes up while also seeing how these placement substituted different things for the equipment they did not have. My placement was one life changing experience in the way I dealt with healthcare, but I also found another life changing experience in traveling. I got to see a coffee farm and I got to roast a marshmallow on a volcano while a thunderstorm took place. Never in a million years did I think I would climb a volcano, let alone in the rain. Not only did I get to experience I whole new country, but I made life- long friends with life-long experiences that I would never want to take back and I can't be more thankful for such a wonderful opportunity and experience.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review April 19, 2017 at 8:03 PM

    Hi Karenjeet, Thanks for sharing a little about your experience on the Guatemala medical program. We are so glad that you pushed through your hesitation and fears to have a wonderful and life changing time in Guatemala. We hope your inspiring personal growth continues and we thank you for being an IVHQer!
    Lachlan – IVHQ Guatemala Program Manager

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Kenya Party

Let me tell you about my second home, Kenya. This incredible place is abundant with joy, love, magical wildlife and a friendly-natured people. The opportunities I've had on this two-month trip stretched way beyond what I was expecting and it's left me with a sense of gratitude and satisfaction that feels seemingly endless. The placements themselves were phenomenal - having spent two summers working in the US with fairly wealthy children it was a huge change to be with kids who had so little. However what surprised me is that the Kenyan kids who had so little were so thankful for what they had and were so joyful despite everything. I was given so much affection just for being there and interacting with the kids, it was a kind of celebrity status I feel I didn't deserve. The teachers in the schools I worked at were amazing too, everything they do for the school is completely child-centred and they were also very appreciative of the work that IVHQ does for them. As well as the placements we also had optional weekend expeditions, my favourite of the trip was one where we visited a countryside town called Naivasha and an organisation called KCC. KCC is a school as well as a slum, set up by an IVHQ volunteer in 2009. Visiting this place was my first glimpse of the real harsh poverty that engulfs a lot of Africa and it was the first time where I realised what I needed to do while I was out here. I bonded with the other volunteers over how upset and helpless we felt visiting this place but we supported each other and grew closer through this tough experience. My second month volunteering was in Kibera slum, the second biggest slum in the whole of Africa. There was a lot of need at this school, which was to be expected, but I found these needs to be much more evident than in my last school. It was after I started work here that I chose to set up a gofundme page so that I could use contributions from my friends and family back home to give aid to this school. As a side note, I would thoroughly recommend setting one of these up, once you're out here it is likely you'll feel desperate to help these people out and with a little extra planning you can set this up - another benefit of doing this is that the people who donate can directly see what their money and it eliminates the skepticism of money direction that can be associated with large charities. With the money I raised I managed to buy for the school: pens, pencils, coloured pencils, desks, tape (for fixing books), erasers, sharpeners, text books, medicine and first aid. That was with about 3 weeks of having a page, if you had a few months of fundraising you could do so much more! I have to give a word to the other volunteers I was with on my journey, they have become like family to me and I have so many memories to look back on with them as we went through this journey together and we will definitely be seeing each other in the future. This experience has been more rewarding than I could have possibly imagined and there's no doubt I'll be doing this again in the near future.

Amani.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review April 18, 2017 at 5:09 PM

    Hi Andrew, What an awesome review! Thanks so much for sharing with us your insight into your second home in Kenya and the lessons you learned while volunteering there. It is apparent that you went into the program with passion and commitment and we are sure that this would have been noticed and appreciated by our local team and the students and teachers at your placement. We hope your advice to fundraising for additional donations while is taken up by other volunteers as this is a great way to give back to the community that opens their arms to international volunteers. Thanks for being an outstanding volunteer and we would love to have you join us again in the near future!
    Will – IVHQ Kenya Program Manager

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

One of the best weeks of my life

My time in Merida, Mexico was absolutely one of the best weeks I have spent abroad. The organization was extremely well run, and I felt more than prepared before I even left the United States. They did everything they could to make us feel comfortable with our placements, providing flexibility to all of the volunteers to accommodate what we each wanted to do. There are really amazing things being done through IVHQ, and the volunteers in these programs really are making an impact on the communities they are serving in. You might think if you only have a week of time to give, that you won't make much of a difference, but I am here to tell you that regardless of the amount of time you have to give, at the end of your week, or month, or whatever it might be, you will see and feel the impact that you have made, and even more than this, you will be able to see the change in yourself that the experience has had. IVHQ is doing amazing things, and you absolutely will leave your placement wanting and needing more. With so many options and places to go, you will find yourself quickly researching your next adventure. Such an awesome experience.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review March 30, 2017 at 5:19 PM

    Hi Daniella, Thanks so much for your kind words! We are thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your week on the program in Mexico. Thanks for encouraging others to join the program, even if they can only join for a week. It has been great to have you volunteer with IVHQ and we hope that you will join us again soon.
    Clover – IVHQ Mexico Program Manager

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

2 unforgettable weeks

My time in Cusco, Peru was invaluable and too short. As a pre-med student, I was placed in a medical clinic around 25 minutes away by bus from the center of the city. The nurses running the clinic showed me various procedures and allowed me to have a hands on experience with the locals that came in. My placement was eye-opening to the differences in the medical field between my home country and Peru, and it was a wonderful experience. My home stay was one of my favorite parts of my two weeks, because we met some of our good friends there and the host family was incredibly hospitable! My two weeks in Cusco were filled with adventure, friendship, and rewarding work, and I cannot wait to do another abroad volunteer trip.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review March 29, 2017 at 6:23 PM

    Hi Niloo, Thanks for sharing. We are stoked that you experienced adventure, friendship, and rewarding work while on the Peru Cusco Medical project – that is what we like to hear! It has been amazing having you volunteer with IVHQ and we are excited to see where you will be volunteering next!
    Charlotte – IVHQ Peru Cusco Program Manager

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

Teaching English in Guatemala

Although I was only able to spend a week in Guatemala, it was the most incredible week of my life. Teaching English at La Escuela de Castro y Escobar was truly life changing. I was inspired by the students who had so little but gave so much love from the moment I walked through the door. I met the most amazing volunteers and we had the best time on the weekends and weeknights. The homestay was comfortable and the food was great. Antigua became a home away from home and I cannot wait to be able to go back!

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review March 29, 2017 at 6:21 PM

    Hi Angela, It is great to hear that you had an incredible and life changing week in Guatemala. Thanks for being an awesome volunteer and we can’t wait to have you back!
    Lachlan – IVHQ Guatemala Program Manager

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Dream come true

I have wanted to go and do voluntary work in Kenya for over 10 years. I came across the IVHQ website at the beginning of January and next thing I have booked and set to depart to Kenya on the 27th February 2017.

Not so sure what to expect, the information and guidance provided to me by IVHQ was spot on and I had nothing I wasn't aware of.

I was aware what to expect, what I will be doing and most of all the website and staff made me feel welcome and an ease given this was my first trip to Kenya.

I will no doubt be booking to go again next year with IVHQ and have 3 friends who will be booking with me.

Thank you for making a dream come true and for opening an opportunity for me to go again with many more to make a difference.

Regards,

Zainab Hafeez - England!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Bogotá

My first time volunteering for IVHQ was a positive experience in every way. Both program co-ordinators were caring people who gave us all the support we could ever need, and allowed us the flexibility to try different projects. The neighborhood and home where volunteers are housed is fantastic. Very comfortable home with proximity to anything you could want, a short walk away. Neighborhood felt very safe anytime day or night. The other volunteers were all very enthusiastic and gave much of themselves. You also have plenty of time to see local attractions or even travel to other parts of the country on weekends. Most of my 2 weeks was spent Feeding the Homeless. This was very rewarding and the people helped always showed how grateful they were. I would love to volunteer with this organization again in the future.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Third Tanzania trip!

This is by far the best organisation I've went with, the training they provide is absolutely amazing to give you an insight of what the daily activities might include. I was in Arusha Tanzania at the Nelito primary which really touched my heart. I would like to thank all IVHQ and Tve staff and everyone I met for making this trip absolutely unforgettable. I will definitely be returning.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Traveling is an eye opening, mind opening experience. Volunteering reaches into your heart and soul

They say home is where the heart is (it's cliché but it gets said), well with Nakavango it was love at first sight. My heart was there from the start, and was nothing less than broken when the time came to leave this beautiful place. Beautiful inside and out, from the actual scenery to the souls of the people who volunteer and work there. My 10/10 ratings of all things in this IVHQ Victoria Falls program is no exaggeration, in fact it isn't sufficient.
Why do you want to volunteer? To help the environment, or people, or enrich your own life? You will do that here. Do you want to be close to and see countless wild animals? You will do that here. Do you want to meet new people from all over the world? You will do that here. Do you simply want a cheaper way to travel? This is the way. Do you want countless activities to fill your off days? You can so easily do that here. Do you want a mind and soul altering experience? If you allow it, you will get that here.
I chose this program for the environment and animal aspect, then I found out we also volunteered at a primary school once a week, okay. That didn't excite me, but I'm always down for a new experience and trying to help the lives of others.. children just weren't my forte (that might sound bad- but it's true). Wednesdays (school days) would become one of the most rewarding parts of this trip. The first thing you notice upon arriving to the school is the excitement on the children's faces, their huge eyes and smiles. They loved playing with our sunglasses, taking videos and Snapchats on our phones, braiding our hair, getting piggy back rides, dancing, singing, playing soccer, and were very curious about tattoos- they kept trying to rub them off! It's chaotic no doubt, but their joy is as overwhelming as their energy. It's only when you look a little closer you notice the torn clothing, the broken windows of the school, the fact that most of them were without shoes. These were some of the poorest children in the world, but also the happiest I'd ever seen. The fact that I was able to encourage or maybe even impart some of that happiness is something extraordinary and will stay with me forever.
Don't get me wrong- the animals are a plenty. Whether you are working or on game drives (or at school, or in town) the wildlife surrounds you. Zebra, and tortoise, and antelope (impala, kudu, water buck), and hippo, and dung beetles, and warthog, and millipede, and cheetah, and mongoose, and baboons, and giraffe, and hyena, and buffalo, and rhino, and elephant, and crocodiles, and lions, and countless different kinds of beautiful birds! Oh my!
In my month in Zimbabwe I met people from all over the world- the US (from California, to Chicago, to Florida), Canada, Colombia, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, China, England, and Australia. Meeting people from different parts of the globe is one of my favorite things about traveling- you get to learn what lives are like so far away from where you are. It makes the world seem infinite and closer at the same time. I still Snapchat some of them multiple times a day, and others I know I'll keep in touch with and see (or even volunteer with) again in the future. Whether you're together for a week or a month, you bond very quickly.
In addition to the fellow volunteers you'll inevitably love- the staff will amaze you. Justine, Dean, Damien, Ian- they are incredible people and dedicate their lives to conservation and mentoring volunteers. Justine is a blast, she's mom, and goes out of her way to make sure you enjoy your experience (even on her days off), Dean is the coolest guy ever and will toughen you up. You will be covered in dirt and sweat but he will make you laugh the entire time. Damien is sweet, easy to talk to and can answer any question you might have. Most of his life has been on that conservation. Ian gave us optional lectures (which we begged for after attending the first one) that will turn everything you think you know upside down and it becomes apparent how much he truly cares about everything and everyone.
If you still need more convincing- your weekends off can be filled to the max with activities, or you can lounge by the pool out back and relax. Home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world- the Victoria Falls, you can catch the spray from the waterfalls and countless views of rainbows on foot, by zip line, or helicopter. Markets in town, watching vulture feedings, shopping, going out to eat (the Boma- a buffet of local cuisine), white water rafting, bungee jumping in between Zambia and Zimbabwe, swinging off cliffs into a gorge in Victoria Falls National Park, day trips to Botswana or Zambia, cruises on the Zambezi (the fourth largest river in Africa), and so much more.
Whether you've never left home or are an experienced traveler (I like to think of myself on the latter side), you will learn so much from this place. Africa is not for the faint of heart, and the work is hard. As brutal as the work could be under the African sun, as hot and sweaty and disgusting as we were, we cheered each other on and screamed for victory with every repaired bridge or dead lantana bush. On our way home after a hard days work I'd be covered in dirt and sweat, feeling like the strongest Queen to ever wield a pickaxe in the middle of the Zimbabwean jungle. I've never been so dirty, sweaty, exhausted, pushed, alive, accomplished, and happy all at the same time. Best job I've ever had.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

My experience in Quito

When I first arrived to Quito I was nervous but excited at the same time. The taxi ride was a little bit long but after 45 minutes we arrived to my homestay, Anita's house. She came downstairs and then we went up stairs to meet her 2 boys (Joe and Andre) and my roommate Quinn. After a while we went to the mall and when we came back we watched a movie with the kids, and later two other volunteers came and we had dinner. On Monday we went to the office and met other volunteers and then we took a tour around the center of the city. The next day we went to a market called "Chinogallo" . When we arrived we started to take everything out of the bags, set up the tent and then we just waited for the children to arrive. There were so many kids, all of them wanted to play and they started to fight over the books and toys. At this market I met a very special and I felt in love with him, his name was Jonathan (everyone was called Jonathan), he was 4 and the sweetest thing ever, he sat in my lap, asked me to read him a book and looked for me when we arrived at the market. After playing we picked up everything and went to sing my favorite song, la taza and others. Then we went to have lunch near the market, and in the afternoon we did the same activities but with different kids. Sometimes, I helped the older kids with their homework, although it was a different experience it was also fun because I could talk to them and learn a little bit about their lives. Every day was almost the same but the market changed everyday and the kids too. One thing that really surprised me was how everyone in the market took care of each other, you could see how a 7 year old kid took care of a baby and called her "mi bebe" (my baby) or how the ice cream guy gave ice cream to all the children of the market. Seeing how this kids lived made me realize how lucky I have been and how I need to be more thankful for the simple things in life. The Ubeci staff was also amazing, you could see all the hard work and the love they put in their work everyday, and they make you feel at home.
My host family was also the best! I felt like I had another mom in Quito. Anita always asked us about our day and where we were going, how we were getting there and when we were getting back. Her kids were also the best, since we didn't had wifi or anything to do we played with them in the roof to throw water to the people walking and hide and seek. We truly felt like we had another home and a family in Quito, I really hope I can go back soon and stay with them.
The other volunteers I met were also the best part of the experience. Everyone was really sweet and fun. Since we were only five in Anita's house we became really close and I hope we can go traveling together and I am definitely visiting them. Meeting people from different places in the world was amazing and thanks to technology it's great we can still keep in touch with each other even if we live really far away. Traveling with them around Quito was really fun, since we didn't had to go to work on Monday we could have a long weekend to explore.And in Quito there are so many things to do! You can hike any of the many volcanoes Ecuador has, or go to baños, or Galapagos or the Amazon! There are so much stuff to do that you would have a hard time trying to decide what to do.
I meet so many amazing people and friends, I'm sure it's an experience I'll never forget. I wished I could have stayed longer, but I am definitely going back. I would recommend volunteering abroad, it is an experience that would change your life and how you see the world. It does not matter if you travel alone, I know its scary at the beginning but I assure you you'll never feel lonely and you'll meet friends for life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Luchando por Quito

I chose Quito as my first volunteer abroad destination mostly out of its proximity to Miami and the fact that I had never been. But I would recommend it a million times over for so many other reasons! It's a deceptively beautiful city with so many hidden adventure gems that I was left wanting to explore even more. And the locals are so welcoming and happy to have you enjoying their city.

The actual volunteer experience and the kids/ teachers that I had the opportunity to get to know was incredible. My school was located in a neighborhood called "La Lucha De Los Pobres" "The Battle of The Poor". Getting to know this neighborhood on a daily basis was one of my favorite parts of my time in Ecuador. The children at my school were amazing, smart and carefree despite almost all of them coming from difficult family situation. I don't know who taught who more.

IVHQ was wonderful and so easy to work with in the time leading up to my trip. I felt like everything was taken care of and thought about, especially considering I initially had some travel complications with my passport.

The local organization they work with in Quito, VCE was also nothing short but amazing.

This first experience has sparked such fire in me that I am already planning my next volunteer trip!

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review March 27, 2017 at 7:19 PM

    Hi Cristina, Thanks for sharing this great review of your time on the program in Quito! We love that you discovered Quito through convenience, as it it such an awesome and adventurous city that can often be overlooked as travel destination. It is awesome to hear that you took the time to get to know the amazing, smart and carefree children at your placement, and we are sure that your work was well appreciated. We have loved having you volunteer with us and we can’t wait to see where you will volunteer next.
    Charlotte – IVHQ Ecuador Program Manager

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Amazing place and amazing people

Everyone is friendly and warm-hearted. My project is disabled orphanage. It's a hard work, but volunteers in our group are kind to stay there about more than 3weeks where the environment is worse. At leisure, volunteers will sit around and have a excellent talk. I know so much from them.
I'm graduate to this experience and those wonderful people. I love them. I'll do volunteer again.

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review March 23, 2017 at 7:32 PM

    Thanks for sharing! We are so glad that you met friendly and warm-hearted people while volunteering on our program in Sri Lanka. It will be great to have you volunteer with us again.
    Louise – IVHQ Program Manager