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

Cecilia
7/10
No, I don't recommend this program

This has been a great experience, overall-- the people that I met, the places that I've visited, learning how to scuba dive, picking up litter in the ocean, has all been very positive. However, I do feel the program's primary focus was Diving and less on Environment/Conservation. I would say it was 80% diving, 20% conservation. Some days when the visibility was poor or there wasn't much litter to pick up, it felt like we were doing the environment more harm than good (when you factored in boat fuel, the commute, etc. We definitely didn't make up our carbon footprint). So I think the program needs to reset and re-evaluate the purpose of the program and really think about how they can make an actual impact on the environment.
If you are looking to get your scuba diving certification, I would advise that you spend at least two weeks with the program. Sometimes dives get cancelled due to the temperament of the waters (low visibility, strong tides, etc.) so you run the risk of not completing the required number of dives in order to get your Open Water certification. Plus, you will not have time to do the marine litter pick ups so I would recommend two week minimum for new divers.
Portugal is a beautiful country and I can see why Lisbon is such a popular tourist destination (particularly) with Millennials. It's less expensive than other western European cities and Lisbon has a great food and wine culture. Not to mention, Lisbon and Cascais (where you will be diving) is quite beautiful. I just wish there was more focus on Marine Conservation. Perhaps they will listen to this feedback and provide a better Environment/Conservation experience for future volunteers.

What would you improve about this program?
Although the program was a great experience, overall, I did feel like it lacked impact from an environmental/conservation point of view. The diving spots we would go to were pretty clean, thanks to years of litter pick up from previous volunteers. While that's a positive thing, the program needs to find other places to dive where there's actual litter (and we all know there's plenty of litter to be found the ocean). And if they can't venture to new spots (due to permit issues or whatever the reason might be) then they should focus on litter pick ups on the surface of the ocean and litter picks on beaches and the shore (since they will eventually end up in the ocean). Also, they should've provided education to the volunteers on the marine/bio eco systems and observing/identifying fish and collection of data, something that other environmental marine programs provide.
Laura
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with IVHQ in Ubud, Bali was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. It helped me see and understand another culture and its people while feeling a part of their beautiful community.I am very grateful for everything that I learned and saw and it was of course a real pleasure to have the chance teach such smart children. I would totally recommend this program to anyone who is looking for an amazing and rewarding volunteering experience. I will always remember those 4 weeks as one of the best experiences of my life.

Xaviere
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What an amazing way to take help the environment and take a holiday at the same time! All while meeting lifelong friends from around the world. I spent three weeks with IVHQ in Bali - 1 week orientation in Ubud and two weeks at the Turtle Conservation on Nusa Penida. I would definitely recommend the orientation week as you get to meet everyone and do tours around Ubud. The turtle conservation work was great either working with turtles or cleaning beaches, with time to rest and relax in between. I would recommend IVHQ as an organisation for anyone thinking of volunteering abroad. They are so organised, provide so much information before you go and also check-in when you return home. I loved my time in Bali, you will too!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you’re thinking of travelling alone but scared to (like I was), then do a volunteering trip, you will meet so many amazing people in the process!
Shuwen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It is truly rewarding when you can actually get to see, help, and communicate with refugees is Brussels. Talking with them and knowing their stories are really eye-opening.

When we finished serving coffee and tea for refugees on the first day, the local team leader using his body language and speaking some simple English words to ask us if we paid money to help them, and we nodded. He said that we are all angles. I literally cried a little bit at that time. Also, I remember help the clothes distribution program in local NGO, that is the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done.

Besides, we can also explore the city when we were done the volunteer work. Most importantly, I knew some cool volunteers all over the world and we talked about our stories and did a lot of fun things. This is the experience that I could never had without doing volunteer work. They are the treasure of my life.

I love this program and every single one I knew during this journey.

I left a piece of my heart in Brussels.

What would you improve about this program?
The program fee may be can reduced a little in order to stay longer.
Nina
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered in Fiji for 3 weeks doing the kindergarten project. The local staff were amazing. So helpful, encouraging and friendly. I made so many friends during my time in fiji and created lots of amazing memories with them. The kindergarten was a huge eye opener and was a great opportunity to see more of Fiji’s culture. Tutoring was so much, the kids are so clever and kind! The locals in Fiji are so accommodating and friendly and helpful. I miss it so much and will definitely will be back in the future

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Definitely travel fiji on your the weekends! You’ll make so many friends through volunteering and it’s a great way to travel.

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. 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

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