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IFRE Volunteers Abroad

About

IFRE Volunteers, a leading U.S. volunteer abroad organization, specializes in ongoing, year-round projects available from 1 week to 12 weeks in 20 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. Wherever you choose to go, your IFRE volunteer experience will start with a one-week language and cultural immersion program providing you with an in-depth understanding of the local culture, basic language skills, regional issues and local customs. IFRE, a 501(C) 3 non-profit organization, is committed to providing you with a meaningful volunteer abroad experience that will change your life.

Founded
2006
Headquarters

3131 McKinney Avenue Suite # 600
Dallas, TX 75204
United States

Reviews

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Diana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing experience during my volunteering project in Cusco, Peru. My host family was great. Maria cooked great meals and was always friendly and ready for a chat. Roger, my coordinator, was the best he gave me a great background on the orphanage with teen mamas and their children. He really tries to help them in any way he can. On a Sunday Roger showed me around the ruins in Cusco, with some history lessons and we went to a local restaurant to try the best local Ceviche. The work at the orphanage was an incredible experience - helping the moms at their daily work and taking care of the kids was very rewarding! In my free time I was able to visit the Inka ruins in the Cusco region, culminating with the Machu Picchu visit, which is hard to describe in words - it was breathtaking! In Cusco you have everything you want - great Peruvian food, good pubs, a lot of friendly foreign travelers and the best night life in Peru! You your looking for an amazing experience, I can only recommend Cusco! Thank you!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you’re undecided, choose Cusco! ;) Pack lighter than you think, Don’t forget sunscreen, hiking shoes and a poncho! Of course you can find anything you need in Cusco too! And prepare for an amazing experience! Cheers!
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear Diana,

Thank you so much for taking out the time to write us a feedback. We are happy to know that you enjoyed your time in Peru. Thank you gain for volunteering with us and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

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Corinna
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Had a really nice time at Latin American Sea Turtle Project. The staff and service was excellent. I learnd a lot more about those lovely animals and about nature in general. I can‘t say that mich because I only had time to stay for 5 days. So I tecommend you should definitely stay a longer time. I was there in October so it’s the rain season. But the weather was actually very good always sunny in the morning and later on it rained or sometimes also just a little so really perfect, because it wasn’t to crazy hot. The cabin I stayed in was also good and the food they served me everyday. The host family was super cute and friendly and tried to communicate with me as good as possible, because I couldn’t speak Spanish at all. All in one, an amazing experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Practice your Spanish or bring a dictionary to make sure you can communicate better with the people you stay with
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear Corinna,

Thank you for taking out the time to volunteer with us and also for the wonderful feedback. We are very happy to know that you enjoyed at the Turtle Project. We hope that we can see you in the future someday. We wish you all the best.

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Corey
4/10
Yes, I recommend this program

These children need help.
They have very little english, math, basic life skills. They need an education.

I understand the logistic difficulties finding full time volunteers to teach wich makes a teaching programme difficult to organise.

My host family was so dirty, the father asked me for a few loans and feeling horribly sorry for him and his family, igave him some money to help him out.
He still owes me alot of money and i have since found out his ridiculous gambling problem, alcoholism. A family of 3 with no jobs taking money from volunteers when it could be helping the kids, insted the money we pay goes to roulette at the 2 local casino's. (People are free to do as they please but im not happy about funding a casino.)

My host family was extremely controlling and i felt pressured into doing things they wanted to do... then paying for it.

The organisation had no direct contact with the monestary and had no idea of schedule, skill level of the kids or anything. My host family knew 1 monk and that was the only connection.

What would you improve about this program?
A more direct contact between the organisation and the place of volunteering
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Hello Corey,

Thank you for taking out time to time to write us an honest feedback and for pointing out the issues you faced in the project. We deeply apologize and regret that we could not help you in time. We would have really appreciated if you had comer forward and informed us of the situation during the program and before you lent the loan to the host family. We were not aware of any of this. We had followed you up but received no response from you during the program. However, we take full responsibility for the situation and though we cannot change anything now, we will ensure that such a thing will not happen to any of our future volunteers.

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Vivian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This is my first time going to Bali and doing overseas volunteer work. I always wanted to do so, but I cannot find an affordable one. On Aug30, I finally found IFRE and called them to see if it is possible to arrange 1week program at last minute and go to Bali on Sep 21. The staff was very helpful and immediately contacted the local coordinator (Komang) to see availability. I confirmed and did the payment same day. The documents are prepared immediately and I actually very impressed that IFRE has a local coordinator that I can contact during my stay.
Being a person who never teach children and looking after turtles, I am soooo fascinated about education in Bali. Every kids are very polite, and I actually learnt from them too - To be grateful in everything.
For sea turtle program, I am so lucky to see 2 turtle mothers laid their eggs! The person who is responsible for the turtle centre (Agung) is truly enjoy taking care of the turtle and love them. I can feel his passion and I did enjoy the whole week there! I didn’t expect a sea turtle can lag that many eggs and there are thousands of eggs waiting to hatched in the centre! The tourists love the idea of nurturing the baby turtles and release them. They really appreciate what the organisation did. I enjoyed to introduce them the sea turtle information too.
Komang is very supportive and he kept checking with me to see if I have any issue (so caring!). He helped to arrange driver to pick me up from the airport (again I am so impressed about it, I thought I need to go to the accommodation myself). The driver was very friendly and took me to a local restaurant (which is very tasty!). Komang has arranged a hotel for accommodation, I loveeeee the staff there, the meals are good too! They are very friendly and I like them!
The working hours are flexible and you can go to have other tours if you want to. Just tell Komang and Agung is fine.
I was so excited to finally step out of my comfort zone!! I even made a short story to introduce the process how sea turtle mother lay eggs :) I love Bali - good food, good weather, good people. This is a great experience and relaxing week and I definitely will come back next year and have a longer time staying in Bali.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Just enjoy every moment! If this is the first time visiting Bali/ Kuta specifically, you will love this place. Every moment is fascinating!!
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Hello Vivian,

Thank you for your wonderful feedback. We are very happy to know that you enjoyed our project in Bali. We would like to thank you for taking out time to volunteer with us and greatly appreciate your effort. Wish you all the best for your future endeavours and hope to see you again someday!

Default avatar
Michelle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My daughter and I volunteered for 2 weeks at the NATUWA Wildlife Sanctuary. We were looking for a true hands on experience that was affordable and educational. It was all that and more!
The staff were knowledgeable, extremely friendly and loved to joke around! They also took their work very seriously. We felt welcome for the moment we arrived and learned so much from them! The kitchen staff were very accommodating to vegetarian and gluten free diets. You will not go hungry!
The theme was, “work hard, play hard” while we were there. Every day was different. Besides preparing food and feeding the animals twice a day, we worked on many projects throughout the sanctuary. It was very satisfying work. At the end of the day there was time to relax in a hammock, play games or go into town. We often walked to the local store and hung out by the soccer field. We even joined in a soccer game with the locals... so fun!!! We felt welcome wherever we went.
We also got one day off a week to go on a day trip. We organized a trip with 8 of us and hired a tour company to take us snorkeling and go swimming on a beautiful island. Along the way, they took us to an island where we got to see spider monkeys swinging around. They also took us past a rocky area where there were may birds. Along the way we saw lots of dolphins and a whale! We ended the trip with a visit to the bioluminescent water, where we could go swimming!
Although I went with my 17 year old daughter, I didn’t see much of her during the work day. She was busy giving tours of the sanctuary and working on different projects. There were 4 feeding routes, too, that we rotated during our stay. This allowed us to get to know all the animals at the sanctuary. There were many young people volunteering, as well as a family and people of different ages. We all made new friends and are in touch through WhatsApp!
We will definitely volunteer through IFRE again!!!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
We fell in love with the baby anteater! It was so cool to watch it climb and search for food... adorable!!!
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear Michelle ,

Thank you for your feedback. We are very happy to know that both you and your daughter enjoyed our wildlife project. Thank you so much for taking out the time to volunteer with us. We wish you both all the best in your future endeavours!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Margherita Rossolini

Margherita (28 years old, Italy) is enthusiastic and dynamic. She loves exploring and getting to know new cultures, she likes talking with people and discovering the world with new eyes, especially through the lens of her camera.

Why did you choose this program?

This program allowed me to do a great experience abroad while living and staying in contact with locals and their culture. I lived in a Nepali family for one week in Kathmandu and then travelled outside the capital city and throughout the country for another week. They accepted me as I was a member of their family. Living like a local was definitely the best way to discover this country.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I had the support of Go Overseas in choosing a family to stay in Kathmandu and in the organization of the itinerary I wanted to do afterwards. They organized all transports and hostels. I just booked my flights on my own. I chose to do this experience in my time free at work, during my Christmas holidays in my home-country, Italy.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Travel to open your eyes and your heart while discovering new cultures and meeting new people, because each country all over the world is a new opportunity to learn something, especially if it is far away from home and much different from what you already know. Do not miss an opportunity to learn and see. Do not fear anything. Be yourself and be always curious. Be unstoppable.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

A week is a short period of time - my photojournalism project lasted just one week - but you can take the best of it by doing as much as possible and reaching many places by taxi at a very cheap price. It meant great motivation to me, to continue travelling and taking pictures, even in the rest of my journey in Nepal, and in all future travels I am planning to do.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Living in the capital city Kathmandu and in other places in Nepal in general is always a challenge for any European. Except for the most luxurious hotels, which I decided to avoid, no house, or hostel, or medium hotel, even in the mountains where the temperature in December often goes under zero above 3.000 mt, has heating systems. Electricity can go and come. Hot water is a privilege. Therefore sleeping at night can be difficult at the very beginning.

Cities are crowded and the traffic is crazy. The streets are not cleaned, always dusty and polluted. But there is no obstacle stopping those people who are able to see the beauty. Because beauty is anywhere, also outside your "comfort-zone", in all those moments when you fell happiness in the smallest things: in the smiles of the women in Kathmandu and in the kindness of its citizens, in the jungle of Chitwan where you are a guest of the wild nature and when with great surprise you find yourself face to face with a one-horned rhino or so close to a crocodile. Where you can ride an elephant and listen to the sounds of the birds while crossing the river in a wooden canoe, in the sweet orange lights of a sunrise up to the snowy Annapurna mountains in Poon Hill warming up your body and mind in the early morning. And this is when you realize that going out of your "comfort-zone" has been a great choice and turns to be a marvelous discovery.

How did this program impact you?

Being in Nepal for two weeks changed my perception of poverty and richness. Coming from an European country and having the opportunity to travel made me think on how lucky I was to be there. People asked me questions and I had the chance to ask them about their culture and lived with and as locals. They treated me as one of them while I was their guest. It felt like home, even if far away.

Richness is not money or objects you own. Richness is experience and happiness. And I feel richer now that I have known this country and met its people, that I have learnt its culture and seen beautiful places, from the bustling capital city, down to the wild jungle and up to peaceful Annapurna Range of the Himalayan mountain chain.