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
Merve
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

South Africa.. Currently between 2 flights to home, already had tears multiple times. Deciding to come to South Africa was for one specific reason but not many people knew. It has been the best decision i have ever made ❤️ -

I signed up a volunteer program called Dreams to Reality less than a year with this program I was able to spread love with the kids who has seen violence;lost what they have or never experienced love and more.. Each of them has their own stories. This program brought me so much more than I expected, made me realize appreciate little things even more.. Filled my heart like it has never filled this way.. Their pure love, friendliness, without knowing me; running to me, jumping on me, hugging me.. hearing my name or calling me "teacher" multiple times over 25 kids was so magical. Also; All the people I met at this program has made my every each day during my stay. I already can't wait to be back to South Africa. ❤️

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

My week in Frankadua was one that I will hold close to my heart forever. I am a senior nursing student in the US, and myself with 5 other students traveled to Ghana for the medical outreach program. Over the course of just a week we were able to test over 1000 children for malaria and treat those who tested positive.in addition we provided wound care and infection control/prevention. Joe, from the purple program was beyond helpful in many ways and made us feel at home for our stay. Tee Tee from the medical outreach program specifically helped to keep things running smoothly, and made us feel safe and welcomed. Each night we had a meeting about our day, and the plan for the next- the staff was consistently asking how they can improve and making sure we all felt comfortable. They genuinely want to help make this a good experience for you, even though you are there to serve. The people were unbelievably welcoming. I met so many new people- some staying one week others staying 6 months, and those who life there that I will continue to be friends with for life. The volunteer house is inviting and there will never be a dull moment. I recommend the medical outreach program to fellow nursing students who wish to make a difference during their breaks from school. This is an experience that you will not find anywhere else, and you have the opportunity to really impact a community, no matter the length of the stay. As with anything, you get out of it what you put in. If you want to work with amazing people, staff and spend your breaks meaningfully then I recommend this program to you!

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

This experience gave me a lot to learn and see, thanks to the Holiday Program I got to experience the majority of the opportunities for volunteering, and I got the chance to discover what I am good at, I could learn from a lot of people, met amazing people and got to know myself better. Now I can not wait to volunteer again for more time and a new country to visit! All the volunteering activities helped me to grow and think how fortunate I am which means I have to give back some of the luck I have. The best way to do it is giving a small piece of your kindness wherever you go or volunteer.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be sure to be "normal fit" because all touristic activities involve a lot of energy, trekking or hiking! (and some of the volunteering stuff too)
Default avatar
Laura
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered in Laos for two weeks. I wish I could have stayed longer! Laos is a beautiful country that has so much to offer. The Green Lion Team is extremely nice and always willing to help you with any problem you encounter. From riding a bicycle to school to teaching the lovely kids at school or hanging out with other volunteers at the bonfire, everyday was extremely enjoyable. This experience was really enriching and exceeded my expectations. I can't wait to volunteer again in the future. =)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be sure to visit the COPE Centre and learn about Laos history!
Jacob
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I used IVHQ when I was searching for opportunities to volunteer abroad this past year. For starters, IVHQ offers more destinations and projects than any other organization I could find. Their website is very comprehensive and provides all the information you need to decide where you want to volunteer. There are also various Facebook groups for individual projects where you can discuss with people who have been on the project before or who are planning for the future. IVHQ is also great with communication. They assign different people to organize each project, so you can be confident that the person you are contacting is both very knowledgable about the destination and committed to helping you. For example, I was supposed to travel to Sri Lanka last year about a week after the horrible terrorist attacks occurred. I expressed to them my discomfort in traveling there at that time and within a day they were able to switch me to a different project that I had requested in Victoria Falls.

I really enjoyed my time at the Nakavango Conservation Program in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The staff is incredibly knowledgable and helpful. I am an avid wildlife photographer, and I was blown away by the opportunities I had to photograph the ample wildlife in Victoria Falls. The accommodation was far beyond what I expected. Each volunteer had their own room with a fan, closet, desk, side table, and bed. Bathrooms were shared between three or four other volunteers of the same gender. The common areas were a great place for the volunteers to hang out, relax, and enjoy the area (There is also a pool to cool off in!) The food was delicious and plentiful, and the chef emphasized that dietary restrictions could be accommodated. On weekdays, we would wake up early to go out on the reserve to repair roads, remove invasive plant species, and survey wildlife, among other tasks. A lot of the work would be difficult or impossible for somebody in poor physical condition, but most able-bodied people should be perfectly fine. We were given weekends to spend however we liked. There were so many options for the weekends, I wish I had more time to fit them all in. One of my favorite weekend excursions was bungee jumping over Vic Falls!

Overall, my volunteering experience was incredible. The time I spent there and the experiences I had are something I will never forget. I would highly recommend both IVHQ and the Nakavango Conservation Project to anybody considering volunteering abroad.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I had a wrap with crocodile in it at a restaurant down town! It was delicious!

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. Friday 24 January
    Oak Park, IL Gap Year Fair
    Oak Park & River Forest High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  2. Saturday 25 January
    Chicago, IL Gap Year Fair
    New Trier Township High School
    Fair:
    12:00 PM - 3:00 PM
    Presentation:
    12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  3. Tuesday 28 January
    Houston, TX Gap Year Fair
    Strake Jesuit College Prepatory
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM

Professional Associations

Institute of International Education Logo
NAFSA Logo
USA Gap Year Fairs Logo
World Youth and Student Travel Conference Logo