RCDP International Volunteer Program

Program Reviews

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Paul
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

First off, I loved my two weeks of volunteering in Bali and I couldn't be more glad I did it. This was my first volunteer experience abroad and it really was perspective-shifting, fun, challenging, and overall a really positive experience. During my time I volunteered at three different schools, one in urban Kuta, one in the smaller town of Amlapura, and one in the country. (Note: these were all normal public or private schools. None of them were for orphans, which I'd somehow gotten the impression they would be.)

What I loved: connecting with the kids. All the kids I worked with, from kindergarten through high school, were so fun. They loved having a foreign volunteer there, and even though the majority of them couldn't speak much English, I still was really able to connect with them in and out of the classroom just by keeping a smile on my face and giving out liberal high-fives. The faculty was also always very friendly and enthusiastic to have me there. Leaving each school was always a challenge and I found myself trying to stick around each day as long as I could.

What was unexpected: First off, I was the only volunteer with RCDP in Bali while I was there, and from the sounds of it they don't normally have more than one person there. This meant that when I wasn't at the schools I was mostly by myself, the first week in a simple but serviceable hotel room, the second in the guesthouse building owned by the great Bali volunteer coordinator, Komang. While I didn't mind this relative seclusion, if you're looking to meet other volunteers, this is not the place to do it.

Because of the low volume, individual nature of this volunteer experience, I found that there wasn't as much of a system in place as I had expected. In practice this meant that there was both less and more for me to do than I had anticipated. Less, because instead of having arranged classes to assist in all day I usually only had two and sometimes just one. More, because sometimes in those classes I was asked to conduct parts or the entirety without much instruction and because outside of class I had free range to hangout for hours with kids on recess. Let me tell you, it takes both considerable energy and creativity to engage with dozens of non-English speaking kids at once.

Outside of the limited arranged time helping in class, there was also some difficulty finding me a school to volunteer in at all during my second week in the smaller town. This was apparently because with the burgeoning Coronavirus situation the local schools were scared to have a foreigner come in. A reasonable fear, except that I had been in at that time Covid-free Bali for more than two weeks without displaying symptoms so there was really no chance that I had it. I missed having a school to volunteer at that Monday, despite the efforts of Komang to gather some local children that I could work with at his home. But after I talked to Komang again he did find a school that would have me for the rest of that week, during their afternoon sessions. The third school I also volunteered at a couple days that week I found by myself because it was connected to a Catholic church which I had been visiting daily. I met the nuns who ran the school and they invited me to come and volunteer there too, which I could do in my free mornings.

So, I ended up having plenty of volunteering, but it was all rather impromptu and I kind of had to fight for it (staying at school after I was done helping in class, insisting on finding a placement for the second week, and finding an additional placement myself.)

I do want to stress that Komang was very helpful and accommodating, but he was working with what really felt like a less than polished system.

Taken all in all, as I said to start, this was a fantastic experience, but I had to be flexible and engaged to make it that way, and I don't think any two experiences would be quite alike. The advantage is you do really feel like you're meeting locals who are excited to have you because you're not just one of many volunteers. The disadvantage is that things are a bit messy. But if you're ready to roll with the adventure, go for it!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
During my first week, the teacher I regularly helped in class wasn't there, so I was with a different teacher who didn't really speak English. I thought I'd be assisting him, but when we got to his class, he simply left me there to manage the whole 65 minute period! I had no idea what to do, but fortunately, it was an older grade who were a bit better at English so I just went through some food and clothing vocabulary, devising some simple games and sentence building exercises. Keeping things light and goofy, I somehow got through the hour!
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David
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Our host family was magnificent and the whole experience enjoyable. Food was wonderful and all round great fun and learning about their life and their history of tsunami.

The orphanage was a challenge for our family (perhaps more for the adults than the kids who don’t understand the full
Scale of this). Our kids were great but I would challenge other families to consider whether this is the best activity as a family. Our lack of ability to speak the language did not aid our ability to communicate but love and hugs speaks a thousand words!

What would you improve about this program?
I think it’s hard to improve institutional facilities in foreign countries.
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Irisa
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This trip was the first volunteering service that I have done in my life, on my own and in a new country. My purpose was to look for a new perspective of the world which I have found in Kenya. Since the first day of arrival, I was struck by how friendly the people were. They were extremely welcoming and eager to help. I spent two weeks to volunteer at an orphanage which is the home to around 20 kids. I have also met the founder of this orphanage, who is an incredible mother to 5 grown-ups of her own as well as the orphanage kids. I could see that under her care the kids are well-fed, happy and kind-hearted. Through their hard work, some of them also achieved very good level at national exams and brought pride to this humble orphanage. The kids that I have interacted with were shy in speaking in English at first but they were very happy to get to know me (which evidenced through giving lots of hugs and kisses and making plaits with my hair). Towards the end of the programme, I have got to know the character of each of the kids and their confidence has also grown a lot since.

I felt that I was well looked after throughout the programme, always accompanied by some of the school/ orphanage staff to and from the host home. They also introduced me to the local rugby games, church, cultural food as well as the festive activities there, which were memorable. During the weekends, I also took a visit to Massai Mara for the safari and the attractions that the city has to offer.

Overall, I felt that my impact wasn't a lot due to it being already a fairly established orphanage and the school (co-located with the orphanage) was closed for the holiday. However, I went with a mindset to learn and so just being able to put more smiles on the kids' face, contributing to their meals and helping out with chores were satisfying for me. This is only the beginning to many trips back to Kenya to visit the friends and kids there!

What would you improve about this program?
I'd have liked to understand where the money that I paid for is contributing to upfront, including those for the project itself as well as the recommended excursions. It was unpleasant to find out that a large part of the fees that I paid for the excursions actually went as commissions to the local country coordinator (of RCDP), on top of the cost of safari tour which was arranged by a third party. It has upset me because this sum of money could have been used to purchase food for the orphanage kids. In general, I found the information provided by the local coordinator (as well as his presence) limited, his attitude and communication skills very poor. A lot of the information was only given after I repeatedly asked for it. The upside was that his family was welcoming and caring for my needs so the overall stay was still pleasant.
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Cyrus Lee
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

RCDP has done a great job in making the administrative processes for volunteering simple and easy. They have also done a phenomenal job arranging a local volunteering agency/work, that is customised and tailored to my interest and goals.

I applied for a 5 weeks programme in Cambodia, working on building a local school project in the Romeas Haek District. My role was to assist the local team in managing this project. My experience was thoroughly exciting and enriching. I had to opportunity to meet many individuals part of the local team, looking to make a significant difference to those disadvantaged. Moreover, I was also exposed to a wide range of Cambodian culture and its people, an invaluable experience that I will cherish deeply.

I would recommend RCDP International to anyone who is looking for an affordable volunteering experience abroad.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
For those looking for an invaluable volunteering experience abroad, I do advice that you do your own personal research on your desired work, to grasp a better understanding behind its situation and challenges. This would give you a better contextual understanding of the area and the people you will be working, which can help you decide on how you can best contribute.
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Kori
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I met a lot of great friends through this program and would love to go back. The orphanage was a great place to volunteer but is difficult to do much unless you know a little bit of Spanish to be able to communicate with the people in the orphanage. If you are able to communicate, you find it is a very rewarding experience and are able to help out in a lot of ways. Roger, our country coordinator was great. We lived with a host family and a bunch of young girls who were traveling and Roger made our safety a top priority. I did not take Spanish classes while in Peru but I heard they were great! DO NOT fall for scams in the plaza. There are plenty of them such as paintings and sight seeing tours. If you ever take a trip to hike or sight-see do not pay in full prior to the trip.

What would you improve about this program?
Communication between volunteers and who they are helping could be better, such as before volunteering to verify dates and working details and if/when they are needed
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Shabnam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time working in Hospital de Bethancourt just outside of Antigua, Guatemala was one that will be etched in my mind for a lifetime. Still, I can recall the vividness of the land - a land that has brought me the most immense of my happiness throughout all of the world I have travelled. Antigua is very safe, and I was always able to roam around, even when solo. People are incredibly kind, and it won’t take long before visitors feel a pull towards the bright city. I was immersed in OBGYN care, even going as far as delivering several babies. As a medical student passionate about OBGYN, this program helped to fill my cup as far as involvement and fulfillment goes. In my two weeks, I was able to view all sorts of procedures in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. I’d highly recommend anyone who is interested in medicine - or any sort of volunteer work - to go to Antigua. The city is safe, warm and welcoming. I feel reinvigorated after my time there and can only hope that others experience this same joy.

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Javier
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Yesterday was a very intense day full of activities. Early in the morning, seeing that it was raining heavily, our jungle excursion was canceled, and we proposed a bike ride. What we thought was going to be a simple walk through the town turned out to be an intense tour of the Nepalese landscape in which we found several animals such as elephants, deer, horses, cows, dogs or ducks. In addition, our favorite moment was when we had to cross a puddle that looked like a river as it covered us to the hip (shoutout to the leech that stung Barbara). It lasted longer than many of us could endure and some even got lost but we really enjoyed it. After a well-deserved rest, and seeing that the river still did not go down, a jungle jeep excursion was organized. Before we entered, we were lucky and honored to have been able to attend a wrestling battle live between two 12-year-old children, there were no injuries ... They warned us that silence was needed to see the animals, which It took us a little to respect, that may be the reason why we "only" saw deer, monkeys, birds and crocodiles. At the time of resting we were playing board games like the Resistance or the high pencil in which we discovered new colors such as sapphire, pistachio and persimmon. We ended the day watching a somewhat peculiar local dance that surprised some and disappointed others. And finally, Quique and the Javis woke up for dinner.

What was your funniest moment?
My funniest moment was when we went to the rafting
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Lucía
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

We had a lot of fun and the people were amazing. Lovely food and housing as well as comfort and flexibility from the organization. Rita was an amazing host mother and the kids from the orphanage were lovely. The school was very tired but lots of fun.
The local coordinator, Lilah, was extremely helping and assisted us in every single way needed. As well as the general coordinator in Nepal who always answered our questions and helped us in what we needed.

The hostels provided by the organization were always amazing and had great service.
Overall: amazing experience, will definitely repeat in the near future.

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Pablo
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Translated by Go Overseas:

Nepal

Our day began with the usual breakfast scheduled for eight. Despite some usual delays, we managed to reach our destination on time and began our jungle excursion without further delay. After two and a half hours of constant surprises and emotion, walking surrounded by vegetation and some animals, such as deer and the occasional crocodile, we finished our little adventure. Upon returning to the hotel we were waiting for a delicious Nepali delicacy (macaroni and cheese). After a deep nap we venture back into the jungle, but this time on the back of an elephant. However, some colleagues decided not to do this activity, since it was against their moral values. After two hours of constant rocking and the odd scare, we arrived back at the hotel. Once we had dinner, we decided to do some recreational activity to strengthen our links as pineapple. Finally, exhausted because of fatigue, we each turn to his humble abode in order to rub.

Original:

Nepal

Nuestro día empezó con el habitual desayuno programado para las ocho. Pese a algunas tardanzas habituales, conseguimos llegar a nuestro destino a tiempo e iniciamos sin más dilación nuestra excursión por la jungla. Tras dos horas y media de constantes sorpresas y emoción, caminando rodeados de vegetación y algunos animales, como ciervos y algún que otro cocodrilo, finalizamos nuestra pequeña aventura. Al regresar al hotel nos esperaba un delicioso manjar nepalí (macarrones con queso). Tras una profunda siesta nos aventuramos de nuevo en la selva, pero esta vez sobre el lomo de un elefante. Sin embargo, algunos compañeros decidieron no realizar esta actividad, dado que estaba en contra de sus valores morales. Tras dos horas de constante balanceo y algún que otro susto un tanto desagradable, llegamos de vuelta al hotel. Una vez cenados, decidimos realizar alguna actividad lúdica para reforzar nuestros vínculos como piña. Finalmente, exhaustos a causa del cansancio, nos dirigimos cada uno a su humilde morada con tal de sobar.

What would you improve about this program?
I think it should be a 4 week program instead of 3.
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Alex
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This travel was really impressive and shoking. The part of the tourism in Katmandú with all the activities were amazing but all the group coincided on the part that the volunteer part was a bit short and we would like to be a bit more time in the town. The first days activities were an adventure. The rafting was very funny and the jungle walk was a bit disappointing because we can’t see a lot of animals but it was also great. The families were also amazing and all were very hospitable, they were always helping you. The work in the garden is very tired but also great. The time we passed with the kids were the best time. They have always a smile in their face and is very funny all the game that we did. The classes were a bit hard, especially if you have the first classes.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most shoking thing is the contrast between the city (Spain) and the small town.