Global Nomadic

Program Reviews

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No, I don't recommend this program

Book direct with Green Lion if possible

I've just returned from a trip to Cambodia which included the Global Nomadic "Volunteer Teaching -Teach in Cambodia" project in Samraong. Whilst I recommend the programme, which is teaching English in Greenway Primary School run by Green Lion, I can't unfortunately recommend Global Nomadic.
Some background information on the project is that in Cambodia primary school children go to state schools for half a day - either a morning or afternoon session. If their parents have sufficient funds, they then pay for their children to have additional private lessons.
The Greenway School provides those additional English classes for students whose family earns less than $100 per month. From what I gathered while at the Greenway School, the English classes are free to its pupils as the school is funded almost exclusively by donations. In addition, it is almost entirely reliant on volunteer teachers.
I enjoyed my time on the project, but despite being a seasoned volunteer I was very apprehensive prior to joining given the lack of information received from Global Nomadic and then the contradictory information I received direct from Green Lion (Green Lion was correct).
So, some things that I wish I had known prior to signing up for the project which I hope may assist future volunteers (some of the following contracts the information provided by Global Nomadic, so is solely based on my experience):
• Travel to and from the project is very easy and by taxi. This takes 2 hours from Siem Reap and costs $30. Taxis can take up to 4 people, so the $30 is split between passengers. My transfer to the project was included in my payment to Global Nomadic, but I knew I'd have to make my own way back. Global Nomadic told me that I'd need to catch a bus back to Siem Reap - there are no buses!
• The transfers to the project are only on Sundays. I was told that I'd be collected on Saturday and arranged my accommodation accordingly. Shortly before leaving the UK I had to phone Global Nomadic to find out details of my transfer (my email hadn't been responded to) only to be told that the transfer was on Sunday
• Taxis do leave Siem Reap after 2pm - my transfer arranged by Green Lion was at 3pm. Taxis also leave Samraong for Siem Reap on Friday evenings after school finishes
• The accommodation is in a secure "compound" with several other volunteers. It's basic, but nice. There are 4 volunteers per room each with its own bathroom (although there was often little or no water from the shower, a problem that I think has now been solved)
• The accommodation is, I would guess, 3 kilometres from the school, so travel to school is by bike. I didn't know this until I arrived and was very nervous about cycling on roads without a helmet and no lights (I refused to cycle at night which limited some of the activities I could take part in). My advice is to bring a helmet and lights
• I'd also suggest buying a full rain poncho in Siem Reap for about $5, an umbrella or jacket suggested by Global Nomadic wouldn't be much use cycling in torrential rain. You'll also need clothes that cover knees and shoulders when teaching. I didn't need water purification tablets as plenty of fresh drinking water was always available at the guesthouse
• We taught mornings and afternoons - not the 3 hours advertised but 6 hours per day including breaks. This was from 8am - 11am and again from 2pm - 5pm. It was very hot midday and gets dark soon after 5.30pm so I had very little opportunity to visit the local area which was a real shame as I thought I'd be free every morning or afternoon and that I'd have the Sunday to explore before the project started
• The project does not ask for resources, but if I had known that whiteboards are used (not blackboards), I would have brought out some refillable coloured board markers and ink to supplement the single coloured pen which was supplied
All in all it was a good experience but I'd suggest booking direct with Green Lion if possible.

What would you improve about this program?
Green Lion should find out what their agents are telling volunteers as the lack of communication prior to joining made me feel very apprehensive in the days leading up to my arrival in Samraong - I've volunteered abroad as a teacher every year for the last 15 years and have not had such a negative experience with an agent before.
We should also be told that we'd need to cycle to school on main roads, I wouldn't have chosen this project had I known.
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No, I don't recommend this program

False Advertising!

This internship had so much false advertising. Another intern I knew who did the TV station internship told me they hardly had him do anything--mostly just sit in the office.

I did the print journalism internship. To start with, the homestay option was nonsense. Don't count on getting one! They put me in a sordid apartment to share a room with 3 other people. As for the job description, you won't teach anybody English, they don't care about ideas to "Westernize" or proofread the content (they have their own editors who speak English), and you won't have opportunity to follow anybody into the field because the local staff is just too busy for you.

Granted, I was given a lot of freedom as to the topics I could write on. However, it was incredibly difficult to get information since so many websites were all in Mongolian, and much of the local staff just didn't care to help me.

As for the "representative" who was supposed to accommodate me, he was always very difficult to reach by phone, and totally unreliable: he never put more money on my phone card like he said he would, and it took him 3 weeks to get me my passport back (my roommate got it back from another guy in 2 days).

Furthermore, nobody gives you any guidance on speaking Mongolian (hardly anybody speaks English), and nobody gave me any suggestion on places to go or things to do in Ulaanbaatar.

In summary, it was nice to go to Mongolia, but I don't appreciate at all the lies that Global Nomadic put on its website, nor the horrid service I received after arriving.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences of my life.

Global Nomadic placed me quickly and smoothly with an awesome Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Buenos Aires, Argentina for my Communications internship.

This internship is as rewarding as you make it. There was no actual set hours or mentor to guide you, so you could choose to work hard and learn the ropes yourself, or simply glide through. Obviously, I chose the former: I brought my laptop and camera (highly recommended as they are not provided) and worked closely with the Comms team on promoting their many projects throughout the big, vibrant city. We traveled to communities to take footage and interview directors of the projects, and I busted out my Spanish and facilitated the interviews, as well as had the opportunity to write articles about the people, culture, and places. I loved the people and the non-profit I worked for. Everyone was super chill, and even though I didn't live in the housing, I saw them there often as it was our headquarters for the Comms team. It also worked out that I had a videographer intern on my team, so I got to fulfill my desire of learning more about film editing and the software.

I really felt good about promoting the eight projects (and seeing where some of my money went) that help underprivileged Argentinians; I gained a new perspective, immersed myself in a new culture, and tried new things. That was my goal: to connect with the locals, to be able to communicate and understand their lives, and to use my creative skills to help them and their projects thrive. And of course, to return to Canada equipped with unique experience in my field to add to my portfolio for future employers.

I love Buenos Aires. Saw it as a tourist in 2014, and lived as a local there this year. Two entirely different experiences, but both some of the best times of my life. Thank you!

What would you improve about this program?
-More communication, updates, and support between Global Nomadic and Interns. I found that after the initial placement, I hadn't heard from them until the end of my 10-week internship. With so little contact, it's hard to write a review specifically for the company.

-Ensure Interns speak at least basic Spanish for this program to make it easier for the projects and people they work for, and easier on themselves. A lot were overwhelmed by the language barrier because they were led to believe they didn't require any Spanish. This makes it hard for the intern to have a fulfilling experience if they can't communicate or understand co-workers during their placement.

- Invest in resources for Comms interns; a camera, microphone, a tripod (nobody's going to pack on in their suitcase) - anything like that, because if an Intern comes without (I knew several who did) they are left twiddling their thumbs (of course, they're at fault for not bringing their own). Higher priority: Microphone (for interviews) and tripod. For the most part, people will bring their cameras and laptops. If this is not feasible, at least triple check with them to bring their own stuff before departure!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Elephant journey

About a year ago, I found myself searching for an experience that wasn't stereotypical. I wanted something new and exciting. Therefore, I used the only research tool up to the task, the internet. After plugging in a few key words I found a sight that really peaked my interest, Global Nomadic. The options were limitless, with an expanse of internships involved in various major interests, taking people to all corners of the globe. Eventually, I came upon an internship that really interested. It was a trip to Laos, a land locked country between Thailand and Vietnam, and an opportunity to work with Asian elephants. The process of booking the trip through Global Nomadic made it a breeze, they even helped me book my flights. The site itself also prepared me for what to expect with an itinerary, sleeping arrangements, and even what to bring. The only thing I had to do was get on the plane. Global Nomadic made this trip so easy and honestly; it was an experience I will never forget.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would change is perhaps a better estimate of how much money to bring considering I brought way too much.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Don't Use Global Nomadic

I went through Global Nomadic to become a volunteer at the a local nonprofit...this was unecessary as GN did nothing to support my stay and I could of just went through the volunteer organization's website! Save some bucks and forget GN! I LOVED MY TIME OTHERWISE!

What would you improve about this program?
If I didn't have to pay Global Nomadic things would of been better.
Response from Global Nomadic

I am glad that you had a good experience with this amazing organisation that we support (at no cost to themselves). We spend a lot of time, effort and resources finding, vetting and visiting each project we work with. I am glad that our efforts helped you to find and work with this organisation, and that this organisation benefited from your participation, not to mention from us helping them to find good interns and support their work.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Away to Mongolia for a month

I don’t think travelling to a country on the other side of the planet has ever gone so smoothly. At this moment I would say that Global Nomadic was a great organization for making the process so simple and clear cut.
The month itself went by quickly and adventurously. I became friends with a lovely girl and her family who offered me a room for the month. I taught the girl English in the evenings.
My work in the TV station was very fun. I would research for some stories and write them down. Then we filmed some shots, edited them and they were shown on Mongolian TV. I almost got an interview with the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar as I was writing a story about the changes in traffic.
While I was not being a journalism intern I tried to see as much nature as I could. The highlight of my spare time was riding a horse in the valleys on a warm autumn day. The sky was clear and it was so quiet. I sat on the horse and looked at the vast landscape that was surrounding me and I felt as if I rode back in time. Afterwards we were given some Mongolian food in a little ger. The best Mongolian food was a meat pancake called Horshur, I absolutely loved it. I also went hiking to a hilltop, which was a two hour journey through snow. Somehow the landscapes always felt magical. I have traveled to many other countries but Mongolia had a certain amount of ‘out of this world’ feel to it.
In conclusion the month was a beautiful experience. From the smooth planning to a relaxing stay, it was an experience to remember for a lifetime!

Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

False adverstising-and no refund yet!

When I signed up I applied for three weeks, the elephant sanctuary, forest conservation and the cycling tour. When I arrived they switched the cycling tour to the first week so I had some people to go with, which was helpful! When we eventually arrived at the national park (6 hours in the back of a truck! But not complaining!) it was beautiful and the rooms were lovely. However from here things started to deteriorate. We did hardly anything in this week that was advertised except visit (empty) farms, which we did after riding for hours and hours along the main highway with our guide driving a truck ahead and waiting for us to catch up. When we got lost we suddenly realised we weren't even given a contact number for the guide and waiting for nearly an hour for her to show up again. When I say the farms were empty it was an absolute joke. The flower farm was the worst-it was barely even constructed yet! There was no tour around any of the farms, we showed up, looked at the gift shop and left. We were all under the impression we'd be going into the national park, seeing as we drove for 6 hours to get there, but when we asked our guide said 'no no, national park all around'. We did a lot of complaining and eventually one day we did go in but we spent an hour pushing our bikes up a huge hill to reach the park then everyone was told to get in the truck and we just drove to a couple of view spots. We asked to take the nature trail around the park but apparently this was not possible, and even if we had been able too we hadn't been prepared with any water or lunch so we had to turn around again and back down to the main road. We were late leaving to bangkok on friday as our driver didnt show up in time to take us to the bus stop so after getting up at 5am we had to wait an hour for the next bus anyhow. Our cycling tour in Bangkok was nice enough around China town but only an hour long, not the full morning as advertised and the next morning we were supposed to have another look around town but instead we were expected to leave at 10am back to the main house in Singburi. I stayed behind and had a great time by myself! The next week was the elephant week and this was also somewhat disappointing as we were not able to do a lot of the program again but this was largely due to bad weather conditions. My third week was supposed to be forest conservation but this was in the same house as the cycling week and though lots of fun evening activities and a nearby bar were advertised, none were present and I noticed only 2 other chinese girls would be attending the week so it might not be much fun. Also having spoken to the people doing the week whilst I were there they seemed to be planting a banana plantation, which didnt seem much like conservation to me! I rang Phil and asked to cancel the last week but he said I would not get a refund. I looked through global nomadic website and saw the week touring the temples in Cambodia so asked Phil if I could do the 'temple week' in Cambodia he said fine and I asked him to email me the itinerary so I could check it was the same, he did not until I arrived in rural cambodia to do 'temple conservation' which I couldnt even do because there was nobody else doing it so I was told I could teach English, which I really did not want to do. In fairness to Phil I emailed him and he emailed back saying I could leave and get a refund but technology failed me and this was sent to my spam folder so I did not see it until much later. I did however leave on Thursday morning after giving it a shot for two days and I did tell Phil the situation but was no reply. In fairness this is not all global nomadics fault as it is their local partner's trip as the Global Nomadic director tells me but that is what seems to be the problem here, all these companies, you don't really know who to contact when something goes wrong, who's to blame here. I spoke at length with the director who first offered me the £150 placement fee back which was inadequate, then their local partner offered another £250 making it up to £400. That was in September. Have I seen the money yet? Nope!

Response from Global Nomadic

We work with a local provider in Thailand who receive many volunteers each year. We both do our best to provide the best experience possible and what is described on our site. In this case Olivia did not get the experience she signed up for and apologize about this. We have refunded Olivia a percentage of the fee paid and have investigated this thoroughly with the provider in Thailand. We are doing everything we can to avoid this again in the future and will be updating all of our project descriptions with them.

We have many happy clients who we have sent away, as you can see on our Chronicles - Yet unfortunately things will sometimes go wrong and the best thing we can do is own the mistakes and do everything we can to avoid similar situations in the future, which is what we are doing. We therefore welcome all comments, good and bad so that we can live up to our values to offer quality placements with the best possible support and assistance.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Intern experience

My experience is one that I will surely never forget. The journey in Belize to get to the project was full of winding roads with an amazing view of Belize. With the sun coming to an end, two other volunteers and I arrived in the small town of Sarteneja. There waiting are arrival where Paul and Zoey, with their white pick-up truck. Are journey did not end there; heading to what seemed to be in the middle of the jungle we reached the establishment. The thousands of stars lit the sky, where the mirror image was reflected from the waters of the lagoon.

The early morning rooster alarm was my indicator of a completely new and exciting day. The monkey feed where the first on the to-do-list, where chopping fruits became part of the norm. While chopping fruit everyone would engage in conversation from our night into town, to the new insect we discovered in our cabana. The only difficult question I had to ask myself was "what monkey do I want to feed"? Ramses the Manatee was the next to feed; it was always a pleasure to jump in his pool, and give him a belly rub. Swimming with him and Duke (another manatee) where my forms of daily exercise; not to mention lifting Ramses which seemed like 200-300lbs, in and out of Dukes pool for interaction.

From the morning monkey feed to the manatee feeds, everyday there was something to do. In between there is a period of relaxation, where I was determined to finish my novel. I would have to say that my favorite part of the day was walking around with livy; a howler monkey with a dislocated arm. She would calmly lie on my shoulders, and we would walk around to her favorite sites. They have done surgery on her arm, and it looks like she will have full function of her arm. I thank everyone for the donations and the support, it fills be with such happiness to know that one day she can be released.

I would, in a heartbeat recommend anyone who wants to work with primates and/or manatees; whether it is for school, or for the sole interest of working with these amazing creatures. You learn so much, have a great time, and meet wonderful people. It is one place that feels like home without actually being home.

What would you improve about this program?
It was hard work, and would have been nice if more people were there to distribute the work evenly
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Unsafe, Overprices, NO Idea What They're Sending Their Volunteers Into

I have just returned from the Human Rights and Legal Aid Careership in Arusha, Tanzania, and I feel that it is critical that you understand exactly what kind of situation that you are sending your volunteers into.

I first began to feel uncomfortable a few days before I was due to depart. I was trying to sort out the details for payment for my stay at the Tanzanite Services Apartments and the coordinator I was put in touch with through Global Nomadic requested that I pay in CASH upon arrival. That would mean travelling around the world (from Toronto to Arusha) with $1,760US ($880 for each of the 2 months I would be there) on my person, obviously that idea made me extremely uncomfortable. I phoned Global Nomadic's US office and spoke with a very helpful gentleman who then arranged with the Global Nomadic coordinator and local coordinator for me to pay via bank transfer upon arrival. The local coordinator was to send me the account information, however the information I received was not for the Tanzanite Services Apartments or for Karibu Tanzania Safari's and Volunteering LTD, it was the local coordinator's PERSONAL account. This seemed strange to me but I went ahead and set up the transfer with my bank at home so that all I had to do was call when I got to Arusha and the money would be sent.

I arrived in Arusha around 9pm and was met by a taxi driver to take me to the apartments. When I got there there was no food or water, I had to borrow a bottle from one of the other volunteers to brush my teeth. The local coordinator came very briefly to tell me that my orientation would be the next morning and to say welcome. There was no way for me to reach the ceiling to hang my mosquito net and no one to ask for help so I ended up rigging it around the bunk bed for the night.

The next morning when the local coordinator arrived I brought him my passport and the $120US so he could get my volunteering visa. When I gave him the money he told me that it was in fact $200US for the visa. This was not what I had been told (see file attached: pre-departure info page 3) but as I didn't have another option I had to give him the extra money. He asked about the bank transfer and I explained that I would call my bank as soon as I bought a phone, but given that it was a Friday and I didn't expect to get a phone until the next day it would likely be Monday before I could have the money sent. The local coordinator said this was not a problem and to let him know when it had been transferred.

My orientation consisted of a walk around Arusha with the local coordinator's associate. He showed me how to get to town from the apartments and explained that the roads and paths were safe during the day time, but not to walk around at night. He then took me to the grocery store so I could buy a case of water, and put me in a taxi with my water as he had other business to do in town. He returned an hour or so later for a swahili lesson which consisted of me copying down a few basic terms and took about 15 minutes.

That afternoon 3 other female volunteers and I went to town, we decided to walk back to the apartments since the sun was still up. On the way one of the girls was grabbed by a local man and some of his friends, when she struggled he raised his fist in a threatening motion. When she dropped her bag the robber let go and we ran.

I have a family friend named Tazim who lives in Arusha. On Saturday, the day after the robbery, we met for lunch. I decided to ask her about typical rent prices in the area, since talking to the other volunteers I had discovered that we were all paying different prices to stay at the house, some much higher than others. According to Global Nomadic, I was to pay $880US per month. When I told Tazim and her friend Zahara that, they were appalled. Zahara lives in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in a good neighbourhood and only pays $650 a month. When Tazim drove me back to the apartment, she was shocked at the location, and after I got out of the vehicle Tazim's driver turned to her and told her that this was not a safe area, especially for a caucasian female on her own.

The financials seemed strange to me but I wanted to avoid and discomfort at the house so I sent the Global Nomadic coordinator the following email:


I've arrived safely and so far everything is fine. I've had orientation and am starting work on Monday.
I have a concern I'm wondering if you can help me with.  First of all I understood that the visa application for my volunteer visa that the local coordintator is setting up was $120 USD, but I've had to pay $200 for it. I've talked to some of the other volunteers living in the house and it seems that they paid $130.  Secondly, again talking with other people who are living in the house, no one is paying nearly as much as I am for room and board. Some of them are paying $100 per week while others are paying $20 per day, but no one is paying more than $600 a month for the exact same services as myself, why am I paying $880? I haven't had the bank transfer go through yet since it's the weekend, I'm going to call on Monday to have that done but I'd like to clear this up first. It is my understanding that I am paying the local coordinator for the room and meals, correct? It is Global Nomadic that has set up my work placement? I will wait to hear from you on this issue and will talk to whomever I am working for on Monday as well.

Thank you,

Instead of keeping this between us, the Global Nomadic coordinator contacted the local coordinator, something I could have easily done myself. The local coordinator came to speak with me and I reiterated my concerns to him. He told me that the cost of the accommodation was indeed $20 per night, this should have meant that the cost of my stay would be $1200. When I asked where the other $560 was going, he informed me that the airport pick up and drop off was factored in, and also that each month that I worked at the law clinic required a $100 mandatory donation. This still left $260 which I was supposed to pay and didn't know where it was going. The local coordinator claimed it was going to other “outsourcing” projects. I asked for a breakdown of these projects but the next day when he gave me the breakdown it was only a breakdown of the donation spending of the law clinic where I was to work, not the breakdown of where the $260 was going. When I pointed this out he again stated that it was going to “outsourcing” projects. I then received this reply from the Global Nomadic coordinator.

Hi Nadia,

I have discussed this now with the local coordinator and I have the following information for you;

The local coordinator assures me that the CTA working permit for 3 months stay is $200. This is different to a volunteer visa which costs less. You are doing an internship, which is not the same as volunteering and therefore requires a different visa if we are to do everything above board.

Also, the other volunteers to whom you refer are not paying more than you, but perhaps did not request an airport pickup, and also are attending different projects, which require a different donation. This explains the variation in price, which was clearly laid out during the entire application process.

I understand that you have recently left the volunteer accommodation, please can you let me know what you intend to do.

I look forward to your reply.


I have attached to this email all of the information I was given during the application process, and you will notice that there is no mention of a REQUIRED donation (an oxymoron in itself) or of outsourcing projects, let alone a “clearly laid out” price break down as the Global Nomadic coordinator claims. Never the less I inquired at the law clinic about a donation and was told that yes, The local coordinator does often bring in donations on behalf of the volunteers but no, there is no such thing as a required donation and no, I was not expected to give a donation in order to volunteer there. The specifications of the “internship” to which the Global Nomadic coordinator refers are included in the attachment “project sheria” but I will touch on some highlighted information here as well:
working hours are 25-32 hours a week Monday to Friday
depending on your skills tasks include advocacy, administration, organization development, publication and research
I have also attached Global Nomadic's advertisement of the “internship”. Now let me explain what actually happened at the law office.

The first day the local coordinator took me in and introduced me to Harrison, one of the paralegals who I would be working with. Although Harrison worked as a paralegal, he had no formal training as of yet but said he would be going to take some courses in the future. His college background was in sciences. The first day we discussed the legal situation in Tanzania and he gave me some background information on the Arusha Women's Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (AWLAHURIC). He didn't know what my hours would be but said he would contact Ms Martha, the coordinator, and we could meet and discuss it. I was to come in the next day at 9am. At 8:45am the next morning Harrison phoned to say I should come in at 11am instead. At 11am I came in and met John, another paralegal who would soon be going for training. We sat and chatted, Ms Martha was busy and there was no work to be done.

On Wednesday the clinic was open from 2pm-5pm for people to come in and seek assistance. They would come in and explain their situation, few spoke any English at all so this was all in Swahili. The fact that it was all in the local language is completely understandable, however I was told before I arrived that it would not be a problem that I had no prior knowledge of Swahili. Yet because of the language barrier I simply sat and listened to each of the clients without understanding a word. After they had told their story Harrison or John would give me a rough overview of the situation and tell me what advice they were going to give. They would then give the advice, in Swahili, and the client would be on their way. Seeing as I don't speak Swahili I felt like more of a burden than anything else, John or Harrison would have to explain to the client that they had to translate for me, then give me a brief synopsis in English, and then switch back to Swahili to give advice. If I had been an expert in Maasai culture or Tanzanian law I might have been able to contribute a little bit more, but again I was told that my qualifications would be fine and I would have no problem at the clinic.

The clinic was open to the public 2 afternoons a week, Wednesday and Friday. Other than that, there was no work to be done. Sometimes John or Harrison would call to see if I could come in and I would go, but we would simply sit and chit chat, there was no work, no advocacy, administration, organization development, publication or research. They could see that I was bored and soon they stopped calling as I was finding other, more productive things to do with my time than sitting shooting the breeze. By mid May I was spending 6 hours a week at the law clinic. During those 6 hours I would listen to the discussion in Swahili (gradually I could pick out words and understand a bit more but not nearly enough to be able to follow a fast passed discussion), and feel like a burden.

Around this time I was asked to work on a grant application for AWLAHURIC, it had to be written in English and was quite extensive. I wrote the sections that I could but a lot of detailed information about the organization was required as well as an outline for how the money would be spent over the next year. I was told to do what I could and that Ms Martha would fill in the details I didn't know. Harrison and I brainstormed some possible projects on which to spend the money and we were going to discuss it with Ms Martha. A few days later Harrison said that Ms Martha had approved one of the ideas and I was to base the application on that. However, this was impossible for me to do without knowing the current budget or details regarding cost expectancies etc, again I was told to discuss this with Ms Martha when I met her.

On a Friday evening around 9pm I received a phone call from Harrison who was in Dar es Salaam for a meeting. He had obviously had a lot to drink and wanted me to come to Dar es Salaam and join him in his hotel room. I politely refused and hung up, the conversation made me very uncomfortable. I told John of the conversation on Monday and he asked if I wanted to tell Ms Martha (who I still had not met). I explained that while I didn't want to get Harrison into trouble the whole thing made me very uncomfortable. Since that was the case John said that he would talk to Harrison himself. Apparently Harrison had no memory of the conversation but was very embarrassed. After that, I was never alone in the office with him nor did he phone or contact me unless it was work related. Please understand that I am not relaying this story to get anyone into trouble, I simply want you to understand the kind of unprofessional situation it was.

I asked the local coordinator and the Global Nomadic coordinator about dress code before I left and these are two replies I had from the local coordinator:

Some time you will visit local community as part of you program and cloth your wear should not offend them

observe as a lawyer you need  proper dressing code is some occasions in your project lets say during presentation and during your visit in the court .hence you need black suit

I would like to point out that during my two months at the law clinic there was no mention of going to court or going to local villages. When I asked about going to visit the court John explained that it would all be in Swahili but that if I wished to go they could try to arrange something. I also said that I would like to go to the Rwanda Tribunal and again was told they would try to arrange something. At the end of two months nothing had been arranged. My brand new black suit remained in my suitcase along with all of the other business clothes that I had brought.

As the Global Nomadic coordinator mentioned in her email I did indeed move out of the apartment after 4 days. I was feeling very uncomfortable not only with amount of money I was supposed to pay but also with the safety of the area. While it is true that there was a watchmen at the apartment at all times, I was still expected to walk everywhere (or take a taxi which became quite expensive) and after being part of a robbery in broad daylight I was not feeling safe at all. My family friend Tazim had been asking around and everyone she spoke to said the same thing: the area is a slum, it is not safe, and no, I should not be staying there on my own. Even Harrison at the law clinic had asked me why I was staying there, he said that he didn't understand why someone would put a volunteer house in slum area since all “mazungu” (white people) are considered to have money and are therefore quite often the targets of robberies. I no longer trusted the local coordinator given that I felt he was trying to over charge me, but he had taken my passport in order to get my visa. I waited until he returned it and then called Tazim who immediately sent her driver to pick me up and move me into her friend Zahara's spare bedroom.

That evening the local coordinator called and he was quite angry. He wanted me to come to the apartments the next day to pay the money that I owed him. I did not feel particularly comfortable with that so I offered to meet him at the Arusha Hotel instead and asked how much I owed him. He agreed and said I owed him $20 for each of the nights I was there plus 200 000 Tanzanian Shillings ($122) for the airport pick up. That seemed like a lot for a cab from the airport so I asked the cab driver who I had been using and also Zahara and Tazim and they all said standard airport pick up cost $50. Since I had stayed for 4 nights and did not intend to pay more than the standard price for airport pick up I should have had to pay the local coordinator $130.

I was very glad I met him in the hotel because he became agitated and angry several times and caught himself each time he began to raise his voice, looking around to see if anyone had noticed. He completely denied having told me that the airport pick up cost 200 000TSH although Tazim and I both heard him quite clearly over speaker phone. He also demanded $20 for my 15 minute Swahili lesson. In the end I paid him $155: $80 for room and board, $20 for the Swahili lesson and $55 for airport pick up. The local coordinator also had accusations to make. He said he thought I was just using him and the apartments and that I had never intended to transfer the money from Canada. This was not true at all, it was Monday when I moved out of the house and had I not been moving out I fully intended to make the phone call to have the money transferred that day. When I asked what he thought I was using the house for he said a visa and to find a job. How he could even think that was beyond me, volunteer visa's are very easy to get in Tanzania, I could have got it at the airport when I arrived or through AWLAHURIC when I started work or directly from in immigration office in town. If the cost really was $200 then I would have been paying that much anyway, why did I need to use him? As far as finding a job was concerned I had applied for my position through Global Nomadic, it had nothing to do with him. The local coordinator also told me that he was going to have to notify immigration that I was no longer staying at the Tanzanite Apartments. I told him I understood and that was fine. Below are the emails between myself and Global Nomadic that followed.

Hi Nadia,

The local coordinator seems to believe that you only used Karibu to get your letter of support for the working visa, and get in touch with the organisation, and as soon as you had this you always intended to go and stay with your friend and go around Karibu. There is also mention that you out your friends address on your immigration form. 

Is there any truth to this?

Please let me know.



Yes he told me that, and I told him it was completely untrue. I was very disappointed to have to leave the volunteer house. I'm sure you are not aware of this at Global Nomadic or else you would certainly not send clients there, but the house is located in a slum.  Even the taxi drivers say it is not safe to walk alone there and yet that is what I was expected to do to get to work every day.

My friend's address is on my tourist visa because when I was applying I emailed the local coordinator for an address and he wrote back just saying "Tanzanite Apartments, Fire Area" which wasn't enough information, I needed a PO Box and street number on my visa application form. Since I was running out of time and the local coordinator usually took 3-4 days to reply to my emails I used my friend's address. My friend is currently in Kenya anyway, I am not living with her, she simply found me somewhere safer to live. I'm not sure if you're aware of this but volunteer visa's are very easy to get here. If that was all I had wanted I could have done it directly though the legal aid office here while staying at a hotel without any problem, or I could have done it from Canada (for a fraction of the price, I might add) before I came. There is absolutely no reason for me to have used Karibu to get a visa. 

As far as using Karibu to find a work placement, I understood that was what Global Nomadic was doing, after all I applied for the position and was approved through Global Nomadic, and I paid Global Nomadic for the placement abroad which to my understanding meant a place to work and secure living arrangements - the house itself is secure, but as soon as you walk outside it is most certainly not.  A slum is by no definition secure. Did the local coordinator mention to you that I was robbed on my first day there? That is why my friend came to see where I was staying and make sure it was safe, the taxi driver told her to get me out of there.


There are 2 final incidents that I would like to mention. First, the daytime guard at the apartments not having enough money for food. I was asked to pay $880 per month to stay at the apartments. While that is an outrageous amount of money in Africa, it is pretty typical of prices here in Canada which is why I didn't question it too much. I would not have minded paying Western prices if I thought the money was being used fairly. However the daytime guard did not even have enough money for food. He had to ask the volunteers to borrow money, a request he was clearly very ashamed of making. Of course the volunteers gave him what he needed, but my question is where was all of our money going if not to pay the staff decent wages? It certainly wasn't going to Western style accommodations or gourmet meals.

The second indecent happened on my last day in Arusha. I went to the law clinic to say goodbye when the local coordinator showed up. We made some small talk and then the local coordinator said something to the paralegals in swahili before he left. As I got up to leave John told me that the local coordinator had said that I had $200 US as a donation for them. I asked again about the mandatory donation and John said, “No no, there is nothing mandatory we talked about that on your first day, The local coordinator knows that. He just said that you wanted to donate to us”. I was shocked and more than a little angry. I calmly explained to John that I am a student and that this trip had cost me a lot of money for what turned out to be very little experience that I could put on my resume. I told him that my time was my donation, and that the local coordinator was mistaken. He happily accepted this explanation and we said our goodbyes. There was no other reason for the local coordinator to do what he did than spite.

Below is the last email I received from Global Nomadic, it is from the 15th of May, a quarter of the way through my 2 month placement.

Hi Nadia,

I have been investigating this further, checking testimonials again from previous participants, and all say they felt very safe in the area of the volunteer guesthouse and never had any serious issues of security. Karibu receives many volunteers each year, of which we have sent around 15, and yours is the first complaint we have had. The local coordinator also confirms that a volunteer was robbed recently by some school children, and that this does unfortunately happen. Africa in general is not as safe as the West, and you must be careful wherever you go, just as you would in any other part of the world.

I am sorry that you felt unsafe with Karibu, and we take your concern seriously. I will continue to investigate this, and will make sure that you don't have to have any more contact with the local coordinator if that is what you wish. Please let me know how you are getting on with the placement, and if there is anything further we can do for you.

I look forward to your reply.


After this email I was on my own. As far as no serious issues of security, well this is why I say that Global Nomadic has no idea what they are sending their volunteers into. Every the Global Nomadic coordinator said was based purely on what the local coordinator told her, and he obviously wants to boost the reputation of the apartments as it's his job. The daytime guard may not make enough money for food but the local coordinator certainly does in his European designer suits. After the robbery on my first day at the apartments the girls who had been with me and I were pretty shaken. When we returned to the apartments the other volunteers were very sympathetic, it seemed it had happened to all of us. 2 girls said they had been followed all the way back to the apartments by some men who then waited for them to come back out of the gate, they had to stay in for the rest of the day. Another girl was robbed at knife point in broad daylight while walking out of the slum to her work placement. The girl who had been there the longest had been robbed twice, both times walking to or from the apartments. Her advice was this, “We are walking dollar signs because of our skin colour, and in an area as sketchy as this it's simply too tempting. The worst spot is at the end of this road when the men hang out all day in front of the bar, avoid walking there alone at all costs. Once you get into town it's ok, even in other neighbourhoods it's ok, but not here, this area is a ghetto, it's not safe at all.”

I simply feel that as someone who has been through the experience I have a responsibility to warn any other well intentioned young people what they are getting themselves into by trusting Tanzanite Services Apartments and Global Nomadic.

Response from Global Nomadic

Hi Nadia,

Thankyou for your Feedback. I know that we have exchanged many emails in
regards to your experience however I thank you for bringing the whole
experience to light once more. As explained we take all complaints very
seriously have now fully investigated this.

Firstly, the reason we sent your first email to the project coordinator was ​to be able to fully investigate this and get him to explain himself. It was not meant in
any other way than to get to the bottom of the situation.

Secondly, in regards to the safety issues, we have doubled checked with numerous previous volunteers and other volunteer organisations working in the area as to their opinion on the safety of the area. Here is one of the replies from a Nicola Price who volunteered in 2012;


I did not consider the area around the volunteer house as unsafe but then I
did not take any risks, ie. walking at night, taking short cuts, carrying
lots of money etc.

I felt very safe at my project, both within the school and travelling to
and from the school.

Hope this helps."

We are very sorry to hear of the robbery of the person you were with,
however it is impossible to guarantee safety anywhere in the world, and you
must be careful everywhere that you go. I have travelled extensively around the world and know from experience that you must not stand out as a rich tourist or walk down dodgy alleyways with valuables in your pocket. However luck is always a factor and petty robberies are an unfortunate reality associated with traveling.

Thirdly, in regards to the placement, it is difficult to guarantee that you
will be useful to the project. The main aim of the internship is to expose
you to a Human Rights organisation working in Tanzania. Firstly, if you do
not have years of experience behind you, you cannot expect to be able to
make a huge difference to the human rights situation in Tanzania, and to
the work of the organisation. The idea is to give you an insight into their
work and help you to further your career prospects by adding the experience
to your portfolio. You cannot expect to be an integral part of their
organisation, especially if you are there for just a few months. As with
any internship, you get out what you put in, and if you can find something
which makes you useful in conjunction with the local staff, than that would
be ideal.​ It is possible that this was not the right placement for you,
and for this we apologize.

In regards to the money charged by the project, they are not a non-profit
organisation, and have wages to pay, an office to upkeep and many other
expenses which you are perhaps not aware of. Whilst it is possible to have
stayed elsewhere for less, this is what they have determined necessary to
house participants and keep them working at the various projects they work
with. The price was agreed with you initially, and should not now be an
issue in retrospect. $220 per week all inclusive is a fraction of the price
charged by some other organisations for similar experiences.

Lastly, here is another testimonial from Gertjan de Flou, who just returned
from Tanzania after attending the Medical project.

"As a medical student, I really wanted to go volunteering at a hospital in
a developing country. In my search for a proper organization, Global
Nomadic stood out. The staff was so helpful. They gave me all the
information about the project, helped me with my flight tickets, the
vaccinations, brought me into contact with the local staff, informed me
about the placement in Arusha, and so on. They made it so easy for me.

I was placed in an apartment in Arusha. Being in contact with the other
volunteers at the apartment was for me one of the highlights of my 5 weeks
in Tanzania. The apartment was so good: the rooms, the food, the entourage,
it was perfect!

The medical project was also really good. Although there were a lot of
volunteers when I was there (july), the doctors and nurses made you feel
very welcome, asked you questions, let you do some vaccinations, taking
blood pressure, assist in some delivery’s and other operations. During my
stay at the hospital, I learned a lot of things and practiced my skills.
For me, it was an incredible experience.

I would definitely recommend Global Nomadic for everybody who wants to go
volunteer in a foreign country. The program and the placement is so well
organized, plus they really make you feel at home. Also, the local staff is
very helpful in organizing to go on safari, relax at Zanzibar or do the
Kilimanjaro trekking"

Thanks again for the great experience!

Gertjan De Flou "

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

I loved my time in Tanzania as I got to meet and live with so many amazing people. The volunteer house that we lived in was so fun and much cleaner and nicer than I expected. We also had an incredible cook that prepared all of our meals. It was great to live with a lot of other young volunteers all traveling for the same reasons. There was a security guard on staff 24/7 which was nice, and as long as you followed the few simple rules (like don't walk by yourself and always take cabs at night) it is a completely safe environment.

Working in the hospital was such an eyeopening experience. At first, it was a little difficult to figure out where you can benefit the most, but after getting acquainted with the staff and asking around, it is easy to feel that you are being helpful. I was working in the lab at Tengeru Hospital helping with malaria and HIV tests as well as keeping track of the patient records. The staff at the hospital were so friendly and willing to teach all of the volunteers. Also, every Wednesday there is a huge market in the town of Tengeru that was so much fun to visit after work.

The town of Arusha is also an amazing place and one of the larger cities in Tanzania. I was actually surprised by how many things there were to do in town, including fun places to eat (try the pistachio smoothie at Arusha Cafe), the town museum, Masai market, and a few fun bars with live music at night. One of the best thing to do was meet up with the other volunteers after work at the clock tower and walk around seeing new things. There is so much culture and activity to take in it is impossible to have a boring day in Arusha. Even the days we were tired, it was great to relax on the deck at home or play with the kids on our street (who love jump rope and soccer). We also got to travel while we were there to Zanzibar (absolutely beautiful) and Moshi to see the waterfalls, and some volunteers climbed Kilimanjaro.

Going to Tanzania was truly an incredible experience and I would happily recommend it to anyone looking to try something new and get involved with something they care about. It is an amazing way to travel and meet new people, just remember to go with the flow and be flexible in all aspects of the trip, as every day there is an adventure and not everything will go exactly as planned.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing about this program, it would be that the staff in Tanzania be more organized and prepared to manage that many volunteers. When things didn't go as planned, I felt at times it was up to us to figure it out with very little support or guidance from the staff in Arusha. The Global Nomadic staff, however, were very good at communicating with us to help resolve our issues and assist the local staff.