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Global Vision International (GVI)

About

GVI is an award-winning organisation that tackles critical local and global issues by operating education and training programs on sustainable development projects around the world.

Formed in 1997, we have been operating our award-winning programmes for over two decades and over 25,000 participants have volunteered or interned with us. All our programmes are run in in partnership with acclaimed international partners, like Save The Children, WWF, The Red Cross, PADI, Project AWARE, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the National Parks of South Africa, Costa Rica, Seychelles, Mexico and Thailand, among others.

GVI consists of a vibrant group of friendly staff members who regard each other as family and passionately work together towards making a difference in the world.

Website
www.gviusa.com
Founded
1997
Headquarters

Unit 7, Westlake Business Park, 4-8 Stibitz Street
Tokai
Cape Town
7945
South Africa

We are proud to launch our new GVI Business Internships Abroad!

Business Internships Abroad are a great way to apply your business management and leadership skills, explore the world, experience new cultures, contribute to a sustainable cause and kickstart your career!

Reviews

Emma
10/10

I have just finished an amazing few weeks with GVI in Thailand, volunteering on their coastal conservation project. It's hard to explain just how fantastic the experience has been from beginning to end.

It has been wonderful to experience a different side to Thailand, which has felt much more authentic than just traipsing around all the typical tourist haunts, and to know that you are making a genuine difference to the community you are working in while you are there. As a volunteer with GVI you have so many more opportunities than a "regular" tourist, from helping out at a nearby turtle conservation centre to teaching in a local school (and with plenty of time for sight-seeing at the weekends, too!).

One thing that really impressed me was GVI's commitment to having a real impact, focussing on several of the UN's sustainable development goals which are applicable to the region. It's tempting to think that, as a short-term volunteer only there for a few weeks, you can't make a big impact, but GVI give you the opportunity to be part of something larger than yourself, so you know that the work you are doing will be continued by the staff, interns, and future volunteers long after you have moved on.

Possibly the best thing about volunteering with GVI was the people I met while I was there - staff, interns and other volunteers alike, I got to know some of the most inspiring, passionate and dedicated people I have ever had the pleasure to meet, who happily shared their time, energy and expertise with those of us who have plenty of enthusiasm, but little knowledge of the conservation issues in the region.

It's been a truly amazing experience that I can't recommend highly enough!

How can this program be improved?
In terms of the actual experience in country, I don't think it could be much better. However, the information provided in advance could have been a little clearer in some respects, especially for those of us who have never been to this part of the world, or been on a volunteering experience before.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Kirsten
10/10

Hi there fellow adventure seekers! My name is Kirsten Svitich. I am a 20 year old country girl from Alberta, Canada planning to attend Journalism school in the future. I am currently travelling the world to discover all the adventures it has to offer! After graduating high school, I had a desire to escape my small hometown and see the world, while making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than myself. I knew that I wanted to volunteer but I also knew that I couldn’t do it alone. So, I began my search to find the program that was right for me. After a lengthy, intensive search I found exactly what I was looking for. At 18 years old, in March of 2016, I joined the Childcare and Community Development program in Costa Rica with GVI. And it was the best decision I could have made!

How did I decide to join GVI? Well, like any millennial, I took to the internet to do my research. I found many comparable companies in terms of quality of programs. However, as a recent high school graduate my budget was not significantly high. When I came upon the GVI website I was immediately intrigued. “Is this too good to be true?”, I thought, as I read the descriptions of the programs and their corresponding fees. I continued reading reviews and watching testimonials from former GVI members and quickly realized that no, it was not too good to be true... it was a perfect fit! Yes, there were other volunteer companies that offered similar and less expensive programs, however Global Vision International is committed to abide by the UN’s sustainable development goals while working WITH the local communities in order to ensure that only the most important and effective help is provided. This was a very important factor to me as I wanted to ensure that I was working on a project that was directly beneficial to those who needed it most.

So now that I had found the organization for me, all I had left to do was the fun part; pick my program! Now you think that this would be easy. However with the possibility to go to so many countries all over the world the decision was not so simple! There were so many interesting and different programs that narrowing it down to just one took some time. I have always had a passion for working with kids so the childcare programs drew my attention. But with many other options such as marine conservation, construction or women’s empowerment, there is definitely something for everyone!

I eventually decided on Costa Rica as my destination. The program that you choose is purely a personal decision based on how comfortable you will be in certain situations. Costa Rica attracted me because of the remote location of the project and the simple way of life at the volunteer house as well as all the beautiful activities Costa Rica offers as a country. Again if this isn’t your thing, there are other programs that may be a better fit. One thing to keep in mind is that some of the placements will be offered in what are considered “developing countries”. So be prepared for a more simple way of life such as shared rooms, bunk beds, local food and no hot water. But don’t let this stop you! For me this was one of the best parts of my experience! To be able to let go of the material world and prioritize things differently really opened my mind. I loved everything about my accommodation in Quepos, Costa Rica including the staff!! From the very first moment I arrived I felt so comfortable and supported in whatever I needed!
The training I received was very informative and I felt that I was prepared to handle the project with professionalism. As a group, we would spend every Monday planning our week of activities for the children. Then Tuesday to Friday would be spent on the project site providing instruction to them, usually in the form of crafts or games. All of this was done under the supervision of GVI staff, so if we ever had any questions they were there to help! Seeing the smiling faces of the children each morning when I arrived at the project, and spending the day sharing with them the program we had developed gave me a real sense of purpose and accomplishment. Then the weekend was free to spend however I chose. This was a perfect way to explore the country and get closer to the other volunteers!

The people I met while volunteering became some of my closest friends that I still keep in touch with today. We had so much fun planning lessons for the project and exploring the area surrounding our new home on the weekends! There was a perfect mix of work and free time but no matter what we were doing we were always having a great time. I had some of the best moments of my life volunteering in Costa Rica and I made memories that I will cherish forever. So if you are thinking about volunteering with Global Vision International, do not hesitate. It changed my life and I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of their amazing team and help do my part to make the world a better place.

How can this program be improved?
This program was amazing from start to finish. There is nothing I would want to change about it. But to be improved, I think that more community development programs could be implemented. Especially ones that involve members of the community themselves working alongside Global Vision staff and volunteers. I think that this would overall create a stronger relationship with the community and help them to achieve goals that are important to them.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Stephanie
10/10

If I had to think of one word that comes to mind when I think about the GVI Project and Volunteer Base in Phang Nga, Thailand, it would be development. This is not only a focus of the projects and UN Sustainability Goals that are the foundation for everything it does, but also paramount to the lifestyle that the volunteers themselves lead, and are encouraged to by the field staff there.

With three different community projects currently running in Phang Nga, the base is home to a collective of individuals with very different skills, natures and interests who somehow come together to make the overall impact a positive one.

The projects currently running are Conservation, Teaching and Healthcare, and offer volunteers a great scope of ways to get involved with the local community while still having a positive impact on that local area and contributing to the UN Sustainability Goals that I already mentioned. Personally, I was a Conservation Volunteer and did different things everyday; cleaning turtle tanks and the adorable hatchling turtles that inhabited them, cleaning the beach, preparing and delivering lessons in a local school, completing surveys of the local wildlife in the area and more recently, surveying the coral off of the nearby coastline.

This was something that I was particularly interested in doing, as I was fortunate enough to be able to complete my PADI Open Water Diver certification during my four weeks in Thailand. I have wanted to do this for a very long time and it wouldn’t have happened without the support and knowledge I received from the field staff, encouraging me to pursue one of my dreams in my weekends off. As an asthmatic diver, I had to obtain doctor’s permission for me to complete the course prior to beginning, and this was also done with the recommendation of a hospital by the base manager, translation for the appointment to be made by the community liaison and company to attend the appointment itself by a fellow volunteer. Everyone looks out for everyone else there, and helps to ensure that you enjoy your time while feel like you’re really making a difference, if only to one person.

In terms of the base itself, it is very well set-up and surely able to overcome anything life throws at it, such as torrential downpour so loud you can’t hear yourself think, or being cut-off from the mains water supply forcing you to use all the excess rainwater for.. everyday tasks. Accommodation is basic but all you really need and serves as a good reminder that many people survive and live contented lives with so much more than we.

I’d be lying if I told you that it was easy and wasn’t without many challenges, but spending a month with GVI Phang Nga is one of the best things I’ve ever done and I’m definitely not ready to finish working with them yet. If you are considering volunteering abroad and think that Thailand might be for you, consider GVI with the knowledge that you would be helping to continue building a community that has lost so much but come so far. I found the experience truly humbling and would go back to lend a hand tomorrow if I could.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kevin
10/10

Being able to volunteer with GVI for their short-term coastal conservation internship in Thailand was nothing short of amazing. I knew I wanted to do something that had to do with environmental/wildlife conservation and travel at the same time, and GVI Phang Nga was able to hit every criteria I could've had. Even before I left, they made sure to get in contact and made sure I was set up to go. My documents in hand, I left to Thailand with a great feeling of what was to come.
When I arrived I was actually surprised by the site amenities and quality, though arguably I had no previous volunteer experience to compare it to. The dormitories were basic, with room for 6 and an adequate bathroom. The common room was spacious enough, with a bookshelf and a site laptop we used to watch the occasional movie on the projector. We always had food leftover in the fridge if you were looking for something to munch on.
Surprisingly each week differed in their own ways, but typically we always had a few activities that were consistent. These included sea turtle care at the Thai Navy Base, village and beach cleanups, bird surveys, and teaching a class of Thai kids at the local school. Other activities like hikes, the monthly conservation trip to Koh Ra, and different community activities were scattered each week, to keep it from getting too repetitive.
What really made the trip so amazing was our location. Locally, we were within walking distance from two convenience shops where you could buy snacks, drinks, and toiletries if you ran out. We were 10 minutes away from both beach sides and it was usually empty (great hideout to workout!). We were also quite close to Khao Lak, where we went occasionally for a night out. However, country-wide is where our location really shined. Our spot placed us within reach of almost every major city, island, and hotspot you could want to go. And if you had the money, airports were also pretty close as well, to further extend your reach. We would all gather up on weekends (which we had free!!!) and travel to different places all around Thailand for some awesome experiences. You make friends pretty quick, everyone here including the staff are great friendly people and its a blast traveling to places none of you have any knowledge of. Take advantage of those, it certainly made my trip complete.
That's a review of my time! I also wrote a blog post about it on their website, please take the time to check it out if you're interested! Look for Kevin as the short-term coastal conservationist!

Yes, I recommend this program
Kaitlyn
10/10

After spending 3 months on Caqalai, I honestly don't know where to begin aside from saying the whole experience was unbelievable. Being able to wake up every morning to a beautiful sunrise on the beach and knowing that each day would mean another chance for me to make an impact on this world brought a sense of fulfilment I had never experienced before in my life. Even the training and tests were made incredible from the sheer patience and support from the knowledgeable staff, which even as a new diver made me feel confident and safe even when I was out of my comfort zone.

I got to see first hand how caring they were when my mother, who was a poor swimmer and very nervous to dive, was met with nothing but kindness. They were beyond flexible with their teaching methods, and would go so far as to taking their own free time to help her learn and feel comfortable even being in the water. All that effort truly helped make my Mom the confident AOW diver that she is today, and just goes to show how accommodating and willing to help the staff was no matter what the problem.

My favourite memory is hard to choose from. Even post-program I find myself scrolling through the hundreds of videos and photos I took while volunteering, and just reminiscing in the sheer joy I felt while living out those moments. Every dive made me feel like I had a purpose. We got to meet the community first hand and see the differences we made in their lives by collecting this research. It was beyond gratifying seeing how thankful and appreciative the community of Moturiki was to have us, and they never failed to welcome us into their homes. I truly felt that I was apart of something much bigger, and most importantly, apart of their family.

Some useful tips would be to really come with an open mind. The conditions are harsh, and the activities are physically demanding. But if you stay open to being put way out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up to growth and failure, you can meet some of the best people that you will ever know in your life, and have experiences you would have never imagined possible.

Who knows, you just might find yourself also dancing with your friends in the moonlight, while the bioluminescent plankton at your feet lights up the water like stars.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe they could buy a better volleyball... That's about it.
Yes, I recommend this program

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