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Programs and Reviews
IVHQ (International Volunteer HQ) provides safe, unique, meaningful and extremely affordable volunteer programs in 20 developing countries around the world, with a constantly expanding base. Programs are available in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where IVHQ works alongside local NGOs to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities. Currently, IVHQ has programs in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Morocco, China, Nepal, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Victoria Falls, Madagascar and Sri Lanka.
Whether you're taking a volunteer vacation, a gap year, or on a career break, IVHQ has a wide variety of programs ranging from 1 week to 6 months to fit anyone's schedule. Browse through the programs below and visit the IVHQ website for more information.
IVHQ's Response to Julie Ayling:
Thanks for your review Julie. This feedback is very important to us, as we constantly look at improving our programs abroad. We're so glad that you enjoyed your experience with IVHQ in Ghana, and that you felt supported by our local staff.
Thanks also for your advice on preventative medications against malaria and typhoid. This advice is crucial for our volunteers and information is always readily available to IVHQ volunteers when preparing for their trip abroad.
We would love to have you volunteer with us again in the near future!
Submitted on 02/12/2014
IVHQ's Response to Rebekah Vass:
We appreciate all feedback from our volunteers and it is disappointing you feel this way about your experience, as our local team in Ghana consistently strives to provide the best possible service to all IVHQ volunteers. This is why the program receives such positive feedback from past volunteers.
We fully support volunteers who take the initiative to raise funds for self-initiated projects, however it is important to understand that managing the implementation of these projects on behalf of volunteers is outside of the responsibility of IVHQ and our in-country coordinators. We understand that as a token of gratitude, our program coordinator in Ghana agreed to assist you in building the library in Ghana (as you were not in country to do so). We are also aware that the building of the library did go over budget, as with any building project, it is difficult to estimate an exact cost of the entire project, as materials are purchased as required. As you are aware, when the building commenced, it was discovered that the land was waterlogged and therefore the building had to be raised off the land to prevent flooding. This contributed to the extra cost of the building, as extra sand and materials were required to flatten out the land raise the building. All of the receipts for the materials that our coordinator was able to obtain were provided to you. Unfortunately, as some of the building materials are sold on the roadside in Ghana, such as sand, it is not possible to obtain receipts for these items.
In regards to staying in the capital prior to your orientation beginning, every volunteer on our program in Ghana spends at least one night in the capital (Accra), as volunteer orientation is carried out before our new group of volunteers travel to their individual placement destinations. Orientation is not carried out on the first day, to allow our volunteers sufficient time to rest after traveling to Ghana. When your group arrived in Ghana, our local team suggested it would be nice for the group to spend a day in Accra to visit some tourist sights and go to the cultural market before beginning your project. You were not informed that your accommodation was not ready, as this was not the case, and our local team had spent the week prior to your arrival to ensure their were enough beds and facilities to accommodate your entire group.
As you are aware, after complaining about the smell of the water barrel, the very next day the barrel was replaced. Unfortunately, Malaria is a reality in Africa, which is why IVHQ and our local teams ensure volunteers are well informed of this and the necessary pre-cautions to help avoid the contraction of Malaria. In addition to taking ant-malarial pills, we advise volunteers to wear long sleeved/legged clothing (in the evenings) and mosquito repellent with deet.
The program fee volunteers pay to volunteer in Ghana covers the costs associated with their stay, including airport pickup, accommodation, food and in-country support. A regular monthly donation is made to some of the orphanage placements in Ghana to assist with purchasing food and other necessities for the children, however it is not stated anywhere and has never been communicated to you that $100 USD of each volunteer's program fee is allocated towards donations.
We hope that despite your disappointment, your group was still able to enjoy the experience of volunteering in Ghana and were happy with the contribution you were able to make at your placement.
Submitted on 01/09/2014
Founded by Daniel Radcliffe in 2007, IVHQ prides itself on providing affordable, high quality volunteer programs worldwide. Says Daniel, "After leaving university, I was very interested in doing volunteer work abroad, but after extensive searching found that all the main opportunities out there either lasted too long (minimum time frame of 8 months), were incredibly expensive (the cheapest I could find were programs from US$2000 for 3 months) or very hard to get into (Peace Corps and VSA are two examples of these)."
After some searching, he settled on a volunteer program in Kenya which, while the lowest cost option at the time, still was quite expensive. Believing there had to be a more affordable option, Daniel began contacting local individuals interested in starting new programs throughout Asia and Africa--within two months, he'd performed site visits, had a website built, and IVHQ was on its way to becoming a successful volunteer travel company.
- How long? One week to six months--volunteers generally average three to four weeks' travel.
- Where? 18 countries throughout North and South America, Africa, and Asia.
- What do volunteers do? The main programs focus on education, childcare, and medical work, though other options are available in surf outreach, turtle conservation, construction, NGO work, and panda conservation.
- How much does it cost? Fees vary depending on the location, but at the lower end, volunteers can expect to pay $180 for one week, to $7,200 for six months at the higher end. Most programs range from about $250 for one week to about $2,220 for six months, though.
- What do fees cover? According to Daniel, "This varies from country to country but for the most part they cover accommodation, meals, airport pick-ups, staff support, orientation and project placement."
IVHQ Placement Basics:
About Volunteering with IVHQ:
To prepare volunteers for their trips, IVHQ provides an information packet (averaging about 60 pages per stint) and assigns a program coordinator to address any questions or concerns the volunteer might have before arrival.
Local staff get in touch with future volunteers, and pick them up and provide a one-day orientation session once they arrive in-country. Four days into the trip, IVHQ emails its volunteers to ensure they're happy, that the project is running smoothly, and to respond to any concerns the participants might have, whether they relate to accommodation, projects, or otherwise. "We encourage open communication from our volunteers and try to fix all problems immediately before they become a big issue and to ensure the volunteer does not waste any of their time in country. We have feedback forms for volunteers to complete when they finish which we also use to ensure we are improving our services," Daniel says.
After volunteers return home from their projects, IVHQ makes sure to keep its 15,000 alumni base connected and up-to-date about new developments and other news through its newsletter (with more than 30,000 subscribers), as well as its YouTube channel, Facebook group (at more than 15,000 members) and page (at more than 3,500 fans), and Twitter account. A breaking news page also is available on IVHQ's website for any visitor interested in learning more about current and ongoing projects.
A Few Questions for Daniel Radcliffe
How do you ensure your programs are sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?
Daniel: We work with local teams. All of our staff are locals. They are a part of the community and know the host families, and projects. They work with the local projects and families to ensure everybody is happy and projects and programs can benefit all parties. Hosting international volunteers is a difficult job. There are a lot of stakeholders to keep happy, but by having local staff on the ground who are experienced and that have good communication with the local communities and volunteers, they make the job look very easy.
How do your volunteers adapt to being immersed in a new culture?
Daniel: Very differently. For the most part they love it, but we do have cases where volunteers can find it very tough. We tell all our volunteers, to try and immerse yourself in the local culture. Learn about it and become part of it. Do not try to force your local culture on the community you are now living in.
What's your favorite part of working with IVHQ?
Daniel: Returning to a country I haven't been to for 12 months and seeing the difference our volunteers are making. Seeing the impact it is having on a community and seeing the satisfaction it brings to our volunteers and local teams when they make a difference.
- Mexico: Volunteers can apply for teaching, childcare, environmental, and computer tutoring programs in Cuernavaca and its surrounding suburbs. Costs range from $270 for one week to $2,700 for six months; volunteers must be 18 or older and speak English. Learn more about volunteering in Mexico.
- Peru: IVHQ's Peru placement lets volunteers teach English, help with childcare, medicine, construction and renovation, and jungle conservation. Projects take place in Cusco and surrounding areas, and volunteers must be 18 or older--some programs require Spanish language ability. Fees range from $250 for one week to $2,725 for six months. Learn more about volunteering in Peru.
- Kenya: With placements all over the country, IVHQ's Kenya projects offer teaching, orphanage, sports education, HIV/AIDS work, medical assistance, music programs, and women's education programs. Volunteers must be 18 or older and speak English, and program fees range from $250 for one week to $2,220 for six months. Learn more about volunteering in Kenya.
- China: Volunteers in China can teach English, work in orphanages, assist with panda conservation, and help with special needs projects. Programs take place in Xi'an and surrounding areas, and volunteers must be 18 years or older. Fees range from $240 for one week to $3,365 for six months. Learn more about volunteering in China.
- Thailand: IVHQ's Thailand volunteers teach English, help with outdoor work, and engage in community development activities throughout Chiang Rai and surrounding areas. Participants must speak English and be 18 or older; programs range from $320 for one week to $1,275 for three months. Learn more about volunteering in Thailand.