IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Program Reviews

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Nattaporn
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I did the teaching volunteer in Ayutthaya, Thailand in December 2019. The teaching experience has been rewarding for me as I have gained my confidence in leadership skills and made an impact on the students' educational experience. My experience with accommodation and the tour was great. My teaching programme was about 2 weeks and this is efficient for me to learn about how to;
1. Lead and manage the kids aged from kindergarten to middle school (from grade 1 to 6) through effective communication strategies, while keeping the lesson engaging and
2. The importance of teaching & speech preparation before the lesson to maximise students' learning

I would recommend staying for more than 2 weeks to gain much more valuable experiences.

What would you improve about this program?
The programme can be improved if there were the topics for each class and teaching schedules were added in the information if the teaching lessons meant to be told beforehand.
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear Nattaporn,

Thank you so much for taking out the time to write us a feedback. We really appreciate it and are happy that the teaching project was rewarding for you. We will definitely work on your suggestions.

We wish you all the best for your future endeavours!

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Austin
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Highly recommend this program to the nursing or medical student. There are lots of opportunities to observe doctors and nurses and ask them questions. We found this program to be less useful for certified professions. If you are a certified professional, make sure you check out the exact details of how you will be volunteering first.

The host, Mama Alice, is fantastic! She will help you to get anything done. It is very useful to have her help in times of miscommunication. She definitely makes you feel safe and a part of her family! We stayed with other volunteers and the occasional tourist.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure to plan for a safari. We did a remarkable 5 day safari that included the Serengeti.
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear Austin,

Thank you for your feedback. We are happy to know that enjoyed your host family and safari. We hope you were able to have a good experience in the program.

We wish you all the best for your future endeavours!

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Isaac
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

As a solo traveler for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect moving to a new country for a couple months, but now I understand how much fun and growth you can take away from an experience like this. This program helps people learn how to become leaders and teacher which provides a lot of support and help to communities. I learned how to not only be an English teacher but also how to communicate with people and to build relationships built on similarities and differences. Although things got confusing and tiring sometimes, the connection with the children is something I’ll never forget,

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing was how much I actually learned about Cambodia and it’s people
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Debbie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was a meaningful program that I enjoyed immensely. I spent two weeks volunteering. I am mid 60’s, my volunteer colleagues were 18-25 with one other couple in their mid 50’s. Age had no barriers, the commradery was delightful. Each day’s work is different, and each day you see the results of previous volunteers efforts which gives you immediate satisfaction that your own efforts are meaningful. On one of my first days I saw a large grove of indigenous trees planted by previous volunteers.......and I immediately realized the value of the program. Working with the Giant Tortoises was my favorite. We planted, harvested and prepared (chopped different sizes for different tortoise age groups). Our typical day was breakfast around 7:15, work in The Highlands 8:00am-12:30 ish, lunch and free afternoons to explore the island (San Cristobal). We planted, transplanted a variety of indigenous plants and worked toward eradication of invasive non-indigenous plants. The best part was our hosts, Eduardo and Lucia. They provided a warm loving environment staying in their home and solid management of the program. They are 3rd or 4th generation Galápagos natives, they work very hard protecting their islands/environment and they treat volunteers with dignity and graciousness. I wholeheartedly recommend this program.

What would you improve about this program?
I believe communication with Jose in Quito could have been better. The US based IFRE Volunteers communication was stellar.
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear Debbie,

Thank you for taking out the time to write us a review. We are happy to know that you enjoyed your experiences in Galapagos. We will definitely try improving on our communication.

We wish you all the best for your future endeavours!

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Reka
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Me and my friend spent 3 wonderful weeks teaching children (age 6-12) in a primary school in Bali, Kuta. During the process of our online applications everything went smoothly, we were given all the help and support that we needed. The in-country coordinator Komang was more than just a support for us, he took us to a traditional Balinese wedding, showed us the most beautiful authentic parts of Bali and was there whenever we needed him. He was also really flexible and helpful when we wanted to change our accommodation or had any other questions.
About the teaching experience: We could choose in between two sites, Karangasem or Kuta. We chose Kuta and the school and teachers there are wonderful. They had one English teacher (Miss Surya) and we got the chance to teach alongside with her and help these wonderful, respectful and energetic children learning English. However, if you are seeking to have an authentic Balinese environment please do not go to Kuta, Karangasem is a much better option with the beautiful Mount Agung on one side and the sea on the other. Also as IFRE is a smaller organisation they spread out the volunteers all over the island hence do not really expect to meet with other volunteers, most probably you will be on your own.
I can 100 % recommend this program for anyone even if you haven't done any teachings yet.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I would do this program all over again I wouldn't change anything except one thing. Probably I would choose Karangasem over Kuta, however our experience was still perfect as it was.
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear Reka,

Thank you for taking out the time to write us a review. We feel happy to know that you enjoyed your experiences in Bali.

We wish you all the best for your future endeavours and hope to see you again some day.

Read my full story
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James
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I did the medical volunteering in/near Surin, Thailand in November 2019 initiated through IFRE and carried out by Starfish (a UK company).
IFRE was superb in answering a lot of questions I had ahead of time and for ensuring I made the right connections with the local group. They were also diligent about checking in on me during the experience.
The Starfish support staff was awesome. They were very friendly and supportive and treated me like a family member from day 1. They were constantly checking in on us and seeing if we needed anything. The coordinator assigned to the medical team has no medical certification but through training functions at the level a Medical Assistant would in the USA. She was energetic, engaged and highly competent. I would hire her in a minute for my own clinic!
The accommodations are very basic but clean. Shared room if there are many people and shared bathroom. The guest house is near some conveniences and a short tuktuk ride away from the center of town.
The clinical activities take place in several small villages surrounding Ban Ta Kook northeast of Surin. There is a very high-functioning team of NPs and volunteers deployed to this clinic and they provide many types of screening, diagnostic and treatment activities that the volunteers support. Transportation to the Ban Ta Kook clinic and surrounding areas occurs in the bed of a pick up truck outfitted with benches and a cover. Activities include basic wound care/dressing changes, dental fluoride sealant application, blood pressure and diabetes screening, and home visits for their immobile patients.
The volunteer activity is meaningful to the local clinic I think mainly by way of providing enough manpower to efficiently do a lot of screening and to free them up from mundane wound care tasks to do other things.
The food is out of this world if you like Northern Isan-style Thai food.
Weekends are free to explore Surin or any part of Thailand (islands, Bangkok or National Parks) or Cambodia (Angkor Wat complex for example) and the staff will set up the transportation for any of these excursions including transport to Siem Reap.
If you're a physician or an NP/PA or Registered Nurse, if you don't have a Thai license you can't really be left alone to do diagnosis or treatment but their NPs are certainly happy to hear what you would do in the same situation in your country. And unless you speak fluent Thai it would be difficult anyways. Just figuring out the medical system for the remote villages, the organization and application of practice protocols and how the community cares for its members is really interesting.
I had a blast in my 2 weeks and would do it again!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
How the community and families, lacking nursing homes, are able to take better care of the elderly and crippled in their own home than the best facilities in the US can do with many more resources.
I also ended up eating some crickets and silk worms.... this is optional!
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear James,

Thank you for taking out the time to write us a feedback. WE are very happy to know that you enjoyed your volunteering experiences in Thailand. We wish you all the best for your future endeavours.

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Diana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing experience during my volunteering project in Cusco, Peru. My host family was great. Maria cooked great meals and was always friendly and ready for a chat. Roger, my coordinator, was the best he gave me a great background on the orphanage with teen mamas and their children. He really tries to help them in any way he can. On a Sunday Roger showed me around the ruins in Cusco, with some history lessons and we went to a local restaurant to try the best local Ceviche. The work at the orphanage was an incredible experience - helping the moms at their daily work and taking care of the kids was very rewarding! In my free time I was able to visit the Inka ruins in the Cusco region, culminating with the Machu Picchu visit, which is hard to describe in words - it was breathtaking! In Cusco you have everything you want - great Peruvian food, good pubs, a lot of friendly foreign travelers and the best night life in Peru! You your looking for an amazing experience, I can only recommend Cusco! Thank you!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you’re undecided, choose Cusco! ;) Pack lighter than you think, Don’t forget sunscreen, hiking shoes and a poncho! Of course you can find anything you need in Cusco too! And prepare for an amazing experience! Cheers!
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear Diana,

Thank you so much for taking out the time to write us a feedback. We are happy to know that you enjoyed your time in Peru. Thank you gain for volunteering with us and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

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Corinna
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Had a really nice time at Latin American Sea Turtle Project. The staff and service was excellent. I learnd a lot more about those lovely animals and about nature in general. I can‘t say that mich because I only had time to stay for 5 days. So I tecommend you should definitely stay a longer time. I was there in October so it’s the rain season. But the weather was actually very good always sunny in the morning and later on it rained or sometimes also just a little so really perfect, because it wasn’t to crazy hot. The cabin I stayed in was also good and the food they served me everyday. The host family was super cute and friendly and tried to communicate with me as good as possible, because I couldn’t speak Spanish at all. All in one, an amazing experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Practice your Spanish or bring a dictionary to make sure you can communicate better with the people you stay with
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Dear Corinna,

Thank you for taking out the time to volunteer with us and also for the wonderful feedback. We are very happy to know that you enjoyed at the Turtle Project. We hope that we can see you in the future someday. We wish you all the best.

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Corey
4/10
Yes, I recommend this program

These children need help.
They have very little english, math, basic life skills. They need an education.

I understand the logistic difficulties finding full time volunteers to teach wich makes a teaching programme difficult to organise.

My host family was so dirty, the father asked me for a few loans and feeling horribly sorry for him and his family, igave him some money to help him out.
He still owes me alot of money and i have since found out his ridiculous gambling problem, alcoholism. A family of 3 with no jobs taking money from volunteers when it could be helping the kids, insted the money we pay goes to roulette at the 2 local casino's. (People are free to do as they please but im not happy about funding a casino.)

My host family was extremely controlling and i felt pressured into doing things they wanted to do... then paying for it.

The organisation had no direct contact with the monestary and had no idea of schedule, skill level of the kids or anything. My host family knew 1 monk and that was the only connection.

What would you improve about this program?
A more direct contact between the organisation and the place of volunteering
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Hello Corey,

Thank you for taking out time to time to write us an honest feedback and for pointing out the issues you faced in the project. We deeply apologize and regret that we could not help you in time. We would have really appreciated if you had comer forward and informed us of the situation during the program and before you lent the loan to the host family. We were not aware of any of this. We had followed you up but received no response from you during the program. However, we take full responsibility for the situation and though we cannot change anything now, we will ensure that such a thing will not happen to any of our future volunteers.

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Vivian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This is my first time going to Bali and doing overseas volunteer work. I always wanted to do so, but I cannot find an affordable one. On Aug30, I finally found IFRE and called them to see if it is possible to arrange 1week program at last minute and go to Bali on Sep 21. The staff was very helpful and immediately contacted the local coordinator (Komang) to see availability. I confirmed and did the payment same day. The documents are prepared immediately and I actually very impressed that IFRE has a local coordinator that I can contact during my stay.
Being a person who never teach children and looking after turtles, I am soooo fascinated about education in Bali. Every kids are very polite, and I actually learnt from them too - To be grateful in everything.
For sea turtle program, I am so lucky to see 2 turtle mothers laid their eggs! The person who is responsible for the turtle centre (Agung) is truly enjoy taking care of the turtle and love them. I can feel his passion and I did enjoy the whole week there! I didn’t expect a sea turtle can lag that many eggs and there are thousands of eggs waiting to hatched in the centre! The tourists love the idea of nurturing the baby turtles and release them. They really appreciate what the organisation did. I enjoyed to introduce them the sea turtle information too.
Komang is very supportive and he kept checking with me to see if I have any issue (so caring!). He helped to arrange driver to pick me up from the airport (again I am so impressed about it, I thought I need to go to the accommodation myself). The driver was very friendly and took me to a local restaurant (which is very tasty!). Komang has arranged a hotel for accommodation, I loveeeee the staff there, the meals are good too! They are very friendly and I like them!
The working hours are flexible and you can go to have other tours if you want to. Just tell Komang and Agung is fine.
I was so excited to finally step out of my comfort zone!! I even made a short story to introduce the process how sea turtle mother lay eggs :) I love Bali - good food, good weather, good people. This is a great experience and relaxing week and I definitely will come back next year and have a longer time staying in Bali.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Just enjoy every moment! If this is the first time visiting Bali/ Kuta specifically, you will love this place. Every moment is fascinating!!
Response from IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Hello Vivian,

Thank you for your wonderful feedback. We are very happy to know that you enjoyed our project in Bali. We would like to thank you for taking out time to volunteer with us and greatly appreciate your effort. Wish you all the best for your future endeavours and hope to see you again someday!