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International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

About

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) brings people together from all walks of life to make a difference on the adventure of a lifetime. We offer the world’s largest range of volunteer programs with 300+ projects across 50+ destinations - from teaching and working with children to medical missions, conservation and wildlife volunteering.

With over 14 years of experience, IVHQ provides safe, impactful and affordable fully-hosted volunteer experiences. Our multi-layered support network and flexible booking policy means you can volunteer abroad with confidence.

Our programs range from 1 to 24 weeks across premier destinations in Africa, Asia, South America, Central America, North America, Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and the Pacific.

Are you ready to immerse yourself in a new culture while making a difference? Join our 116,000+ community of IVHQ travellers who have spent over 7 million hours supporting local communities.

Scholarships

IVHQ Scholarships

You can get your hands on a range of different International Volunteer HQ sponsorships throughout the year, with the money you win going directly towards the cost of one of their two-week programs. You'll also get a flight voucher in the value of up to $1,000 from STA Travel and travel insurance to cover the duration of the program from World Nomads. Recent grants have included an “Alternative Break” scholarship, where Spring, Summer or Winter break programs were fully funded.

Value
$1,000 - $2,000

Reviews

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

Childcare in Ghana

It was the best experience i've ever had in my life. I love Ghana! I loved being part of something good and ı love every person in this program. Thank you IVHQ!
ı have more frıends, a lot of amazing pictures, good memories now...
I was ın gold program and everyone in this program was so helpfull..
We were 8 when i start program with friends from all around the world, ı went there alone ı back with many friends and good memories, if u thınkıng about go there u shouldnt think twice...
Just do it!

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

Purple Program in Ghana doing Teaching, Childcare, Sports

I'm just back from Ghana on the Purple Program with IVHQ! My program included teaching, childcare, sports and construction. The program is very well organized by IVHQ and the designated leader Elvis made your transition into the village that much easier. Elvis was exceptional at his job without him the trip wouldn't have been the same. No matter how big or small the request from the volunteers he made sure to get it done for them. Elvis helped you make the most out of your free time by organising excursions such as weekend trips to cape coast or day trips to waterfalls. Whatever you would like to do he will make sure you get it done within your time on the programme. Elvis has such fantastic professional relationships with people around the village and when we travel on the weekends, which helps benefit the growth of IVHQ organization’s and makes the volunteers trip more enjoyable and smooth sailing

What was your funniest moment?
When the local shop (Joe's) was playing bob Marley and all the volunteers and locals went up to dance to the music
Default avatar
Tanacia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AMAZING PROGRAM

Volunteering with IVHQ Ghana was my first time volunteering overseas and I was nervous. Everyone was so amazing at helping us get used to different environments. I felt completely safe and the food was amazing. The program is versatile, you are able to help out in some of the other programs if you would like. I was apart of the medical program, but spent a few days volunteering on the farm and i loved it!! Thank you to the program directors, Elvis, Joe, Milli, Mary, and everyone for allowing us to feel very comfortable.
Volunteering in Ghana was truly a positively life-changing experience and hope to be able to go back in the future!

Default avatar
Keith
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience

Volunteering with my wife at the aquarium in Zanzibar was a great experience. It was also very informative about sea turtle conservation and we left there learning more about sea turtles than we ever thought we would. The staff at the aquarium there was very friendly and always helpful. The World Unite staff was extremely helpful and very dedicated to their jobs. They were very willing to help from the time you landed on the island all the way until you left to go home. For anyone who volunteers in Zanzibar, make your voice heard because staff are willing to change things if it improves the program.

Response from World Unite!

Hi Keith,

Thank you for taking the time to write us a review. We are always delighted to receive feedback from participants of our programs.

We are glad to read that you and your wife had a great experience volunteering at the Marine Turtle aquarium in Nungwi and that you learned a lot about turtles. As well as how the aquarium and World Unite! staff were helpful and supportive throughout your entire stay. We are happy to have made your stay in Zanzibar worthwhile.

We wish you all the best and Karibuni tena Zanzibar.

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

IVHQ- I have spent 2 weeks in Lima, my heart stays there forever

I could spend 2 weeks in Lima to support a local community. I didn't realize the privilege I was born with till my volunteer work. Because having social security, nature around us, and breathing fresh air are privileged life circumstances that we should give more credit for. Too often we underestimate things that are in our life. The volunteer program made me realize this. It made me realize that not everyone was born to beautiful places and if you were, nothing can be more selfless and beautiful than helping others who cant say the same. We took care of children who were so loving, they shared so easily, they didn't know how much they taught us about life. I will try to always remember this and returning to volunteer again, as soon as I can. for this, I am glad, IVHQ exists, because without this organization, my life wouldn't change. As a future volunteer, you should know, these people are happy for the fact, that YOU, out there in the big world, trying to reach them out, you give your heart and time to show them some love, attention. You cannot change immediately their life, you might feel, you don't do enough while you volunteer, but you should know and understand, that the act of kindness does move mountains.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would go for a longer time, I didn1t want to leave but I had my flight booked and so on. Next time at least I volunteer for a month.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 64

Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I travel as much as my pay and vacation time will allow me, but I am single and usually travel alone. One day a coworker was asking advice on travel and asked if I ever joined groups (I did) and he asked if I'd ever volunteered while traveling (I hadn't). The question stuck in my mind as did the sudden realization that not only did I sincerely need a break from the drama of work and family, but I needed something in my life to feel I was connecting to something bigger, something important, something I could feel passionate and proud about.

Environmental protection had always inspired me. Was there a program that combined my two interests and the sudden need to express the part of me that longed to save the world? Yes! Of course; I knew I wouldn't save the planet, but everything about this program and company proved I could do something unique, something helpful, and that I could do so without paying a million dollars, having a special skill or going to extremes.

International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ) also had so many options that I really just had to toss a coin to figure out where to go. Africa/Nakavango seemed like such a rare opportunity that I couldn't pass up the chance.

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

IVHQ provided a list of things to complete before I left & checked them off as I went. They also connected me to travel insurance providers, a community of people who could answer those little questions we have when going somewhere unfamiliar, indicated which vaccinations I might need, and directed me to the host country's visa website.

Most importantly, IVHQ hooked me up with their flight center.

Their very helpful staff ensured booking flights from Vancouver to Zimbabwe went smoothly and was cheaper than I expected. One other volunteer claimed to have found her own flights cheaper, but I was more than happy to leave the stress of finding the cheapest & most convenient flights up to someone else. They also gave a very general packing list, which I followed as best I could.

Doing the actual legwork for most other things was my responsibility. I had to ensure I got vaccinated and obtained malaria pills, got a criminal record check (good indicator this is a reputable program), and obtained travel documents & items for visas for volunteering in Zimbabwe.

The program manager in Zimbabwe helped with almost everything while there, including booking a taxi back to the airport and booking weekend activities. She even gave me cream for fire ant bites. I loved that woman.

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

I have two pieces of advice, one for travel in general (which I've known for a long time) and one specific to this program.

1: Travel is like many aspects of life: it goes better if you use common sense to stay safe and keep an open mind and easygoing nature to stay happy. Sometimes unexpected things happen. That's life. Use common sense to survive it and be ready to shrug delays or mishaps right off your shoulders. I was bitten by fire ants. It wasn't an experience I'd like to repeat, but I treated the bites with creams, learned to wear long pants, and in no way did I allow it to dampen my spirits or my desire to experience what I could.

2: Don't be afraid. There are people to take care of you, systems to support you, and there's always a solution to a problem. What I learned in this program was that sometimes people surprise you with their kindness. Don't be afraid to believe in people (but always remember common sense!). The volunteers I was with and the program operators astonished me with their good hearts. It made me regret not holding a fundraiser at work for this program, a choice I made because I forgot that sometimes people are good.

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

I was only in Nakavango, Victoria Falls for two weeks and things will be different depending on how long you're there, time of year, and what is required (e.g. during the rainy season you might have to fix roads or clear debris from bridges).

Shifts for when I was there were about 1.5 hours each. Weekdays start at 6 AM. That means you have had your breakfast and are ready to go at 6 AM.

Monday we did game drives, getting oriented in the park or else doing an animal count. Tuesday we pulled datura in the morning. Datura was ridiculously satisfying to pull out and I could have done that nearly all day. In the afternoon, you might go to Victoria Falls or else do some chore around the compound.

Weds is the primary school where you'll garden or clear the field of rocks and the afternoon is enjoying the sunset with a beer after a drive around the park. Thurs we worked in the garden, digging garden beds and in the afternoon we packed camping gear and went camping. Friday morning half went pack to the compound and unpacked while the other half went tracking on foot. Friday afternoon we dug up lantana, which was the hardest work I had to do since the bush has to be taken out at the roots. All days we had about 5hrs between getting back to the compound for lunch and the 2nd shift of work or whatever afternoon activity was planned.

Weekends were usually spent in town doing tourist things.

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

My biggest fear of going to Zimbabwe was simply getting a visa. I was terrified I would forget some little piece of paperwork and would be denied a visa. I got triplicates of every document and passport photos. Didn't get asked for any of it! This, however, doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared. It just means you shouldn't stress about things so long as you are organized.

The second biggest fear I had was that I wouldn't be able to contribute anything useful. I honestly had no idea what I'd be doing on a regular day. Thankfully, this program didn't require particular skills and we had people from 18-65 yrs participating. If you can prune a bush, you can do something in Nakavango. That IVHQ asked questions such as what skills I had encouraged me that I wouldn't be sent off to do something I wasn't qualified for.

What kind of travel style is this?

I compare the accommodations and services to a mix of camping and hotel or camping with a trailer/cabin with surprisingly comfortable beds. We had laundry services every Weds and, even though the washing machine was broken, the laundry was back by Thurs. Just note that apparently the guy who washes things likes to iron EVERYTHING.

While I was prepared for pretty much what we got, one girl was expecting to be out in the bushes without toilet paper. Seriously. She packed 9 packages of baby wipes, which she ended up donating (so, not a bad ending). We did have running water, electricity (carry a flashlight EVERYWHERE as power failures happen randomly), private rooms with a fan, wifi (not always working), a pool, absolutely excellent chefs (lots of pasta, rice, chicken, fresh veggies thanks to the garden, and fresh breads), cleaners, and the ability to choose our level of participation. If you really didn't want to do something, you might get teased or razed, but you weren't punching in a time card for work. One girl chose to do almost no work. As much as we disliked her for this lack of team spirit, it was her choice.

A little bit of advice is to bring more USA cash than you expect to use. There is an art market in town with plenty to offer (be prepared to be attacked on all sides by salesmen) and you will want to leave a bigger tip than you think for the staff at Nakavango. The cleaner not only had a nice little corner set up with trinkets that I wish I'd bought more from but he fixed my hiking boots. What did he do? He sewed through rubber so I could have my boots for another week. Apparently they will last another 20 years. I hate those stupid boots, but I wish I'd brought more cash to tip him, buy more of his artwork, and tip the chefs who were so committed to their job that I couldn't break it to them that I'd eaten in town and didn't need the dinner they'd set aside for me.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Why did you choose this program?

The IVHQ program seemed to offer all that I was looking for: destination, available projects, affordability, plus the fact that it not simply an adventure travel company. Their programs were dedicated to helping communities in need. The schools where we worked had all been built by volunteers, and we provided materials and labor to renovate and build toilet facilities for the children. A few weeks of work by a few people eventually build a school.

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

IVHQ assists with everything: flight information, visa and health requirements, airport pick up, travel to placement, orientation, daily visits to the worksites, and regular meetings at our residence to discuss any issue.

The website provides most of this information in advance, but it's reassuring to meet "face to face" with the organizers. On our own, we have to arrange emergency travel health insurance, criminal background report, vaccinations, and visa requirements if required.

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

In Africa, bring as few clothes as possible, and nothing with long sleeves and long pants. Clothes can be washed daily if necessary. Insect repellents are only required at night, as they simply wash away in the daytime by the heat. Bring anti-malaria medication and personal toiletries, and a small first aid kit.

My advice: DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING! You will be with an outstanding group of people and you will have a fantastic adventure.

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

Because of the heat in Ghana, all 10 of us only worked in the mornings.

In construction, we left for our 30-minute walk to the site around 6:30 am and it was an enjoyable walk, as everybody waved and greeted us. We returned to our compound around noon on motorbikes.

The childcare group prepared breakfast and lunch for the school children and were finished by 1 pm. Their school was only a 5-minute walk. Afternoons and evenings were spent reading, playing games, interacting with the children.

Weekends were for sightseeing, usually gone for 2 days (at our expense).

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

I had no fears, no concerns. The website provides all the information that you need about your program. The country website (tourism) provides the rest.

As for safety, always remember that you are in a group. There are no safety concerns at the placement site, and we traveled on weekends in groups for 8 or more. Local people are very hospitable and helpful. You will soon discover that you have no worries.

Enjoy your stay.

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