From when I first arrived to the homestay in Kerala my induction programme and medical placement was extremely disorganised. In fact, there was no medical placement to speak of; I found it extremely unprofessional that the coordinator had to take me to three hospital placements to decide which one I wanted to take. The first two hospitals were clearly unsuitable, with the doctors hardly speaking any English. I do not understand why I was even taken to these in the first instance as they were not appropriate and I wasted 3 days of placement in administrative delays. I also have a clear trail of e-mails in which I asked you several times for the location of the hospital and you refused to provide me with this, I had doubts then but these are now confirmed by the experience I have had with volunteering journeys. Nothing at all was prepared, the company lied that the hospital has a 2 week minimum commitment fee. This was not the case, the hospital was paid days after I arrived; this has been independently verified by the HR team at the hospital. Although my supervising doctor at the hospital was great, there was a complete lack of structure to the placement. I had specifically asked for 1 week of Ayurvedic medicine and 1 week of A+E (please see the e-mails); this was not provided as the coordination between the hospital and the coordinator was poor. The hospital placement and departments I was to be posted in should have been done before I even landed in India; there was plenty of time to arrange this and I was shocked that this was not arranged.
Furthermore, I have some serious concerns regarding the health and safety of the placements, with particular regard to homestay accommodation. The homestay was of a very poor standard of cleanliness for an accommodation that is supposed to cater to the needs of international volunteers. Myself and several volunteers fell ill on the trip; although identifying a link between this and the conditions at the homestay is difficult to prove, I have no doubt that the living conditions were certainly contributory. Even worse, there were unsheathed electrical wires in my bathroom which were NOT decommissioned in accordance with basic health and safety standards.
However, what I found most concerning was that myself and the other volunteers were NOT asked to provide CRB/DBS checks. Although it states in the handbook it is to be provided, as an activity provider it is their responsibility to ensure that all volunteers are safe to work with children in a resource poor environment. I was shocked to learn that alongside myself, other volunteers did also not have to submit their DBS.
On a separate issue, it says on their website that they are a social enterprise; the company was very clear that they refuse to provide a breakdown of exactly where the £921 pounds they received has been spent, including how much of this has actually gone into donations to the projects (many projects reported they received no money at all)
Overall, although I enjoyed my experience in India as a place to visit I have been disappointed by the service provided by Volunteering journeys. At a cost in excess of £900, the trip has been poor value for money. Several days of hospital placement were missed due to the coordinator rushing me around to take passport photos and finding my placement, I was not provided with the departments I requested and basic standards of health and safety were not met.