IFRE Volunteers Abroad

Program Reviews

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Leigh
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered at Al Gadhir Medical centre in Kenya for four weeks through IFRE. My major responsibilities included dressing wounds, taking patients' histories and vitals, counseling patients, providing assurance and moral support to patients' families, and disbursing medicines. I was placed in the orthopedic department. It would be very safe to say that I gained intercultural skills and qualifications for my personal and professional development from this volunteering program.

My host family was very helpful and supportive. They were some of the nicest and genuine people I've met. They welcomed me into their house and family whole-heartedly. Barnabas, the country coordinator was responsive and was always making sure that my experience in Kenya was a nice one.

Application and preparation process was also very smooth. I appreciate all you did for me! You have such an important contribution to the world in your position. Thank you IFRE Team for organizing this experience for me!

What would you improve about this program?
I don't have really any problems with this program. The only thing I would change if I could, would be the arrival process. It was a bit hectic and overwhelming, and could be improved.
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Annabel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was teaching English at an amazingly progressive school in the beautiful mountains just outside Xela. The school was led by Professor Edgar and he has a group of brilliant qualified and dedicated teachers in the school. I was there for the last month of the school year (October) and worked every morning. I was reviewing all the English the students had done in the year. I worked in each class which meant I met all the pupils in the school. The school has a lovely, happy warm atmosphere. Even though my Spanish is really poor, the teachers all went out of their way to help me. I was included in all the school activities including the graduation on the last day of term. This was brilliant to see the Guatemalan families being so proud of their children.
The journey from the house I stayed in was about 50 - 60 minutes each way. I loved the journey for the thrill of the mad bus drivers and because the scenery to the school is breathtaking. You get to see the real Guatemala, with all the people going about their daily business.
I stayed in a homestay in Xela with the lovely Mercedes and her 2 children. There were 5 of us staying in the house. Mercedes is a great cook and every meal was great fun sitting around the table there was always a lot of hilarity and warmth. The house is about a 10 minute walk to Park Central in Xela and so it was really easy to get to the bus stations or the markets or any one of the great cafes in town for some coffee or hot chocolate (make sure to visit La Luna!) I also went to yoga at the Yoga House, and I know there was a gym nearby.
Daily Spanish classes were included with Mario from the programme. He had great patience with me and arranged a time to suit in with my day. I would highly recommend taking them.
I didn't go out at night much, but there are loads of bars in town and a nice community of foreigners - not that many so you see the same faces in the yoga class, or coffee shop or bar after not too long! There is a laid back vibe in Xela and it's a cheap destination in Guatemala.
Would totally recommend making sure Xela is included in your trip to Guatemala, for the city vibe as well as the amazing countryside surrounding it. Make sure you go to the hot springs and the markets and don't forget to climb the volcano!

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Ian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Medical volunteering was rewarding and interesting. I was able to use my experience as a nurse to give extra help to the nurses and doctors in the Emergency Room at KCMC. During my time there, I felt useful and welcomed. I loved collaborating with them and sharing stories of how we practice medicine in America. I was also able to offer medical recommendations and practica advice to help improve the emergency room.
My accommodation was very nice and the house was clean. My host mom, Mama Alice, was lovely and felt like my real mother. I always felt like part of a big family. There were other volunteers staying in the house, which made for fun and interesting dinners. Some of them will be life long friends and I am looking forward to visiting them in their home countries. Overall, it was an amazing experience.

What would you improve about this program?
At first I was volunteering at Upendo Hosptial. This is not a good placement for volunteering because extra help is not needed. It is a doctors office where the nurses’ work is minimal. I did not have a good experience at this hospital.
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Kristina
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I really enjoyed the volunteering experience. I liked my placement very much. The project " Special Education Program" was in itself very rewarding and overwhelming. The kids were very sweet. I had a lot of fun with them. The host family whom I was with was excellent. The food was good and they were always ready to help.

Thank you so much for taking me into this program I had a lot of great memories from it. I will send you some photos of my stay as well, but I am right now traveling in San Fransisco, Oakland, so I can't upload my photos. Once I am back in Estonia I will send some photos as well. Thank you again for letting me give my help through this program I feel good about the experience and maybe in the future will attend some more too!

Take care and wish you all the best!

What would you improve about this program?
Transparency regarding where the amount goes and how the program has been improved since the volunteer’s last visit would make this program even more authentic.
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Grainne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The school that I was assigned to was a Rural School and the teaching staff and students couldn't have been nicer. I was made feel so welcome from the minute I arrived and felt right at home after about 3 days (once I got to know the run of the place)
A tip for any future volunteers would be to come prepared especially if like me you are not from a teaching background. Have some word games to make learning english more fun.
Maybe print off a few easy crosswords with pictures ect. The students like a break away from the text books and they get quite excited about playing games. Even though I was there to assist teaching English I joined the students when they were playing sport, although I need to improve my netball skills drastically !! They are such good humoured kids and will call out to you each morning when you arrive at the school gates. Those smiles really set you up for the day.

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Emily
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a great experience volunteering with IFRE in Tanzania. The project was overwhelming in itself. The process was very smooth.

I was greeted by the country coordinator at the airport and she took me to my accommodation. I stayed with the host family and they were very nice. The next day I went to the Orphanage, which is located at the foot of Kilimanjaro in the town of Moshi. It provides shelter and care for the most neglected children in Tanzania. My responsibilities included teaching kids, playing with them, helping them with day to day activities. I had many great memories with the kids there.

During the weekend and I visited the Moshi town, Makoa Waterfalls and the Kilimanjaro Region.

All of these contributed in making my experience a great one. I definitely would have stayed more if it was a possibility.

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Joseph
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Today is my first day back in the USA following my teaching stint at Moshi, Tanzania. I spent three weeks traveling the country after I concluded my month at Majengo Secondary School.

This message is in response to a query from you (in late July, I think) asking about my experience with IFRE and the time I spent in Moshi.

I have only positive things to say about my stay in Tanzania. I never had to call on your organization for help because I was given such strong, ongoing support by the Country Coordinator, Mama Alice Mkonyi.

I’d like to offer some further detail about the stalwart job she’s doing for you there.

The accommodations could be fairly described as “no-frills,” but that after all is what one expects in a volunteer job in Tanzania; you know you’re not going to be housed in the Hilton. Alice runs a good, well-managed house, always clean and well-kept. The meals were sumptuous and healthy, and always served at regular times. Each day I was given a box lunch to take with me to school.

The thing I found most praiseworthy about Alice was the special motherly concern she took in the young volunteers who were staying there. She was constantly asking if they had any problems or if there was any way she could help them – and she frequently did just that.

Moshi is her town. She knows all the prominent people in the institutions there: schools, hospitals, orphanages. I can cite a good half-dozen examples of volunteers not being entirely satisfied with their initial postings. Alice was always able, within a day, to find them something better suited to them, thereby making their experience more rewarding. There was no delay on the changes. She has connections and moves fast.

We ate dinner together every night, and I won’t soon forget the warm, family-style atmosphere she created and the wide-ranging, interesting conversations we had. She really cares in a personal way for the people assigned to her.

She had a lot of good advice for the volunteers on things to do and see in the area, and was helpful in suggesting affordable transportation alternatives. She always knew how to get things done in the community. She hooked me up with a safari organizer (somebody she knew!) who turned out to be first-rate and trustworthy in every way.

Moreover, she organized several nights out for dinner that were great fun and really built a spirit of community and friendship among us.

I was a bit over-qualified for the high school I taught at. I’m an upper-level American ESL teacher, and I had to adjust to a setting of large classes and a complete lack of classroom technology. Still, the students and I hit it off and I left with the feeling that I had delivered value to them, improving their grasp of English and stimulating their interest in its possibilities for their future.

So, in conclusion, you can put me down as fully satisfied with the assignment you found for me in Moshi, Tanzania.

With best wishes,
Joe Daggett
West Columbia, South Carolina
30 October 2018

What would you improve about this program?
The Program was great in every aspect.
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Arthur
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It was really fun to be in an international camp like this, with people coming from around the world. It was great to discover turtle’s life and learn about how we can protect them. The staffs were always present to help, support and were very kind. The schedule was different each day. Costa Rica is a safe, beautiful country with lots of natural beauty. The accommodation was also fine. I’m very grateful to IFRE and to ASVPA for organizing such an amazing mission in Matapalo.

What would you improve about this program?
Volunteers can be offered some sort of sports activities when they are not in charge with hatchery. Increasing the night shifts could be very exciting for volunteers. Finally, informing local people and tourists about why is it important to protect turtles and nature will improve this program even more.
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Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Overall, I must say that (Jun 11 to Jun 22, 2018) was the best and the most rewarding 2 weeks of all time. I volunteered with IFRE at Bali. Location was great. Well to be honest even though both the program teaching and turtle conservation was great and fun, I would say I enjoyed teaching more because it gave me this opportunity to connect with those wonderful kids. The feeling was simply priceless

What would you improve about this program?
The roles and responsibilities description was very detailed however the schedule was less strict then the document made out to be - If pictures and videos of volunteers who had done the program before would have been more helpful and provided a true picture of what was to be expected - More prompt response from the country coordinator would have been more reassuring -e.g. perhaps IFRE to highlight it is better to reach out to them through Whats app - Country coordinator to provide the location of the accommodation prior to the trip would have been helpful since we had no idea until we got there.
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Josh
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Overall I found the program fantastic. I completed 1-week language and culture program and was not only impressed by Rajan's teaching but also felt welcome and comfortable at the hostel and it was great to be able to interact with other volunteers as well. I felt that it prepared for my volunteer program and my stay in India. I would highly recommend it.

For my program, I was placed in women empowerment project. I enjoyed the program thoroughly. At all times throughout my placement I felt safe and looked after and I have memories and experiences that will stay with me for a long time. It was truly an incredible and worthwhile experience.

My host family made it even fantastic! I have never encountered such kindness and love before (outside my family). I cannot thank them enough for their hospitality. My experience with the women and children was so wonderful and I feel so lucky to be able to contribute to this project! Very Lucky and I will be! Back! Thank you to my host Family once again- you will forever be close to me and my heart!

What would you improve about this program?
I suggest guided travel activities for volunteers