Volunteer abroad with IVHQ

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

About

IVHQ is the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organization, offering the largest range of safe and impactful volunteer programs in 50+ destinations.

Over 110,000 travelers have volunteered abroad with IVHQ over the past 12 years, making IVHQ the world’s most experienced volunteer travel organization with the best safety record.

With programs ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks, it's easy to customize a program to fit your schedule and volunteering goals.

Programs are available in these destinations: Bali, Costa Rica, South Africa, Greece, India, Portugal, Peru, Fiji, Nepal, Peru, Jamaica, Madagascar, Spain, Australia, Croatia, Jordan, Belize, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Italy, Tanzania, Cambodia, Victoria Falls, Laos, New Zealand, Belgium, Morocco, Brazil, China, Ghana, Zambia, Ecuador, Uganda, Indonesia, Colombia, Argentina, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Thailand.

Explore the programs below and visit the IVHQ website for more information.

Founded
2007
Headquarters

99 Devon Street
West New Plymouth 4310
New Zealand

Reviews

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

IVHQ and Serve the city in Brussel are like a big family helping people who need help. As a one-week volunteer, I just thought I could only do some basic work for them, but to my surprise, Aneles was such a good leader not only explain the whole organization to us in detail but also introduce us some history about people we help with. Also, there were some other nice people there to help us answering our questions and guided us to places we did our volunteer work. I like the whole project a lot and it taught me a lot of meaningful things I have never known before when I was in China.
Actually, we don't have refugees or people without paperworks much as in Belgium, so I basically know nothing about this area, but after the whole week, I had so many feelings about this. Especially after the day we helped with making breakfast and serving them, there was a man from Syria we had a little chat when I was working, and after I finished my work I met him on the tram. I asked him some questions about why coming to this country and his plan about future. This was my first time to talk to people like him face to face. He was just like everyone else, no different, but he had to leave his country because of the unsafe circumstances in his country and find a place to stay. He also showed me his son's picture on his phone. I could see how much he loves and misses his son, but he couldn't go back. After talking with him, I felt so upset and even cried on the tram, I felt it was so hard for me to imagine people's lives under such circumstances. More I thought, more upset I got. But at the same time, it made me so powerful to continue me volunteer work there, because that was the only something I can do for those people.
So, the volunteer program is wonderful and meaningful, the friends I knew from this program are nice and friendly. I really want to recommend this to all my friends!

What was your funniest moment?
Not only the program is meaningful, memorable, but also the people I knew there were friendly and nice. On the first day we met, that was also my 22nd birthday, we went to a restaurant and celebrate my birthday together even we were very tired after a busy day. Niki, Hannah and Eno are my roommates but also very close friends there. It is so nice to meet new friends there and we really helped each other a lot during the week. We even went to a trip to Amsterdam after we finished our volunteer program.
Default avatar
Ethan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My volunteering experience was an amazing one that I will never forget. I would advise that anyone who is even giving this programme a little consideration should absolutely go for it, you won't regret it. The work hours aren't particularly long but if you go in as a team ready to work hard you'll quickly see the difference you and all the other volunteers who come through can make. The program is very well organised and follows a neat schedule. The staff are also incredible in their jobs of looking after the volunteers, so you will certainly be comfortable if you choose to stay here. The guides who take volunteers to worksites have so much knowledge to give about the environment which they give with great enthusiasm. Each drive had something interesting to be seen and something to be learned from the guides.
Be warned that probably not want to leave. You really can't overestimate how long you'll want to stay here and you may feel that you didn't stay long enough. Can't reccomend this enough.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
For those thinking of doing this but are unsure, absolutely do it. It's an intimidating undertaking, no doubt, but it is absolutely worth it. IVHQ help you every step of the way and make the process as easy as possible. If you can, bring supplies that can be used by the staff at Nakavango, even simple things like batteries/chargers, duct tape, carabiners, binoculars, that sort of thing, can be helpful. Don't overpack, I'm not sure myself or anyone I was with did, but it can be easy to think you need lots of stuff and overpack. Check the programme guide, and try to keep it minimal, you don't need lots and lots of clothes for example, just bring enough. Electrolyte additives for your water are probably a good idea as you can get sweaty and dehydrated quickly if you're doing hard work on a hot day. To add to that, make sure you have a large drink bottle so you can bring enough water with you when working. Mosquitos may or may not be a problem for you as they seem to prefer different people. Bring insect repellent, but even if you find they bother you try and see what happens if you don't use any repellent, they seem to have become attracted to it there. If you have a particularly novel kind of repellent, you may find that works. My final advice is also not to underestimate how much you'll want to stay. The time you pick may seem long before you get there but it's gone so quickly and you may regret not choosing to stay longer. That's ultimately at your discretion and only you can answer that for sure but I know I personally which I'd chosen to stay longer.
Default avatar
Rachel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program was life changing! I had to opportunity to travel across the world to Bali, Indonesia. I was able to not only create a positive impact on the community with teaching, but also learn about their culture, and meet lifelong friends along the way. I participated in the Ubud, Bali program for kindergarten teaching. The staff strive to make it the best experience possible, and the Green Lion house is nothing but accommodating and clean. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone contemplating it. Definitely going to return soon!

Default avatar
Nicola
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent two weeks volunteering in the kindergarten program with IVHQ in Ho Chi Minh and honestly had the time of my life!! The staff make you feel so at home and the accomodation is clean and well maintained. There was a variety of food to choose from at meal times and the location is super close to cafes and restaurants. The other volunteers were all so welcoming and had a great attitude, wanting to make the most of their experience.

The kindergarten program was really rewarding and even in two weeks I made so many connections with the children. Although some days are repetitive (singing, dancing, feeding, teaching), the kids really love when the volunteers are there and you can see the difference you're making in their lives. Without the volunteer program, the children wouldn't learn english, limiting there opportunities in the future.

The city of Ho Chi Minh is busy and has so much to do, after volunteer hours everyone was super eager to explore and make the most of their time overseas. Travelling to other parts of Vietnam is also really easy and affordable from Ho Chi Minh and the staff at the accomodation were so helpful with planning weekend trips and providing recommendations. We could book tours or weekend trips the day before we left easily with the help of the staff which allowed flexibility and kept the experience exciting!

Overall, in my two weeks in Ho Chi Minh, I made memories which will last forever, made lifetime friends from all over the world and learnt so much about the rich culture and beautiful landscape of Vietnam. For anyone thinking about volunteering overseas, I would highly recommend the IVHQ Vietnam experience and any of the programs they offer.

Default avatar
David
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This wasn’t my first try at oversea volunteering, but it was my best so far. IVHQ was in constant contact with me from my initial registration to days before my departure for Bali.
Upon arrival (12:00 am) I was met by a driver who took me to the Green Lion site just outside of Ubud and a rep was there waiting for me and got me squared away right away. The next day I met with the coordinators and started orientation immediately, I opted for cultural week (highly recommended). On the Monday of my second week I started my 3 week stint on the construction program helping to build a school in the next village. We started as a crew of over 20 volunteers, but as the days passed and people finished their time, the numbers went down. For me construction is very satisfying, in seeing the job at hand and working together to complete the job. I know that the work carried on after I left but I’ll always know I am a part of the school. I am thankful to IVHQ for the opportunity to be more, but more so I’m thankful for the well organized support system that lets me know I wasn’t alone.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If possible, I would have explored more of Bali on my weekends and took in more opportunities in Abud on the evenings.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Cora-Leigh Hutchinson-Gray

I am a sales professional graduated from Florida Atlantic University. I love to travel and am passionate about community service.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because she spent time in Africa in 2015. I promised herself she would go back to serve the community and work with the children. I fell in love with the joy of the children and the culture. In the short time she was there, it inspired her in her life.

Since I’ve has been back she wrote a children’s book based on her experience.

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

I organized the program on her own with research. I looked into many different types of volunteering organizations and chose this one. I’m so glad I did! I’m very good at researching and finding out what is the best way to travel. This was perfect for me.

This trip was part of my honeymoon and my new husband and I have so many amazing memories of this experience!

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

For anyone that is thinking of doing this, if you have any hesitations ask, the program coordinator. They are great at answering your questions. Listen to what they tell you and go with an open mind and heart. It will be more fulfilling then you can possibly imagine if you go with an open heart.

Make sure you bring antibacterial soap, wash your hands, and keep yourself healthy as you may be exposed to germs your not use to.

Have fun most of all you are doing something that will change your life take the time to learn about the culture.

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

If you are going to work in a school, your hours will reflect the school hours.

Take the time to prepare food if you are there for lunch, and bring water. The schedule will be planned out before the week starts. The schedule is rigorous as you are setting the example for the kids! The other volunteers that have been there before you are a big help and show you around. It was easy to get used to the schedule fast!

The day is full of fun and discovery!

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 was where we were going to be. I was afraid that we would not have the necessary daily needs like water and electricity. But my passion and desire to go there did not stop me and I’m so glad I didn’t let fear overtake me! I knew I was going to do this because I wanted to understand another culture.

Make sure you’re grounded on why you are going and what it is that inspired you to go. This will support you in overcoming fear! Ask questions about anything you don’t know! Educate yourself and be prepared!

What would you have done differently?

There is nothing I would have done differently for this trip. It was so organized ahead of time; everything went smooth.

Our first day, the moment we walked in the school and all the children were so excited to see us, I knew I was in the right place. The love they gave us right away filled my heart with joy! Every child is special and unique. Spending time with them and being part of their growth is priceless.

I can’t wait to go back and volunteer again!

Staff Interviews

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

Julien Comeau

Julien is a former Canadian dentist and businessman who decided at age 75 to find a more fulfilling retirement. He enjoyed his 3 weeks in Ghana so much that he is planning more adventures in Africa. He also had the honor of being the oldest volunteer ever in Ghana... Quite an accomplishment and an inspiration for others.

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.

US visitors, meet us in person!

  1. Tuesday 25 February
    Palo Alto, CA Gap Year Fair
    Gunn High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  2. Wednesday 26 February
    San Anselmo, CA Gap Year Fair
    Sir Francis Drake High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  3. Thursday 27 February
    Berkeley, CA Gap Year Fair
    Maybeck High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM

Professional Associations

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