Kaya Volunteer Programs in Belize

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About

Explore and volunteer in wonderful Belize! This is a great opportunity to work on the beautiful Belizean reefs or lend a hand in a public hospital serving Belizean citizens. Help bring much-needed assistance to victims of domestic violence or help build a home for orphaned children in San Ignacio.
Join us today on one of our many volunteer programs in Belize!

Current Volunteer Projects in Belize:

- Build a Sustainable Home for Orphans
- Belize Spring Break Organic Farming
- Work in Public Hospitals and Clinics
- Marine Conservation on the Belizean reefs with PADI Certification
- Counselling and Social Work
- Music Access and Development for School Children
- Dance Therapy
- Teaching and Teacher Development
- Volunteer Camp for At Risk Youth: Putting Film in to Action
- Medical Elective/ Rotation/ Internship

Questions & Answers

Reviews

30%
based on 1 review
  • Impact 4
  • Support 1
  • Fun 1
  • Value 5
  • Safety 6
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Susanna
3/10

!0 reasons why I'd recommend NOT volunteering through this company

Background: I am a 23 year old medical student who payed $1500 to do a 3 week elective with the Good Shephard clinic in San Ignacio, Belize. Included was accommodation at a home stay, all meals, 6 language lessons and transfer from Belize city to San Ignacio. Everything written below is based solely on my personal experience in May.

1. They do not deliver what they advertise: I arrived on the date Kaya told me I needed to start on; 3rd of March. I was told by their coordinator that the clinic was closed for the week and I would go in on Friday. I was paying $500 for this week and I cancelled a week of my time in paediatric cardiology in America to make this date but they hadn’t organized my first week. I was staying in a hotel, not with a family, and was eating all my meals alone in a restaurant. The language lessons didn’t exist and when I asked about them I was told I could pay extra.

2. They didn’t give me the correct information: They told me the clinic was closed because of the Government election. The clinic was open, running reconstructive surgeries and I had been expected on the day I was originally supposed to start. Other volunteers from different volunteer organizations had all started that day yet Kaya had failed to call the clinic to check their information. The clinic had no idea who Kaya was when I asked them.

3. They refused to reimburse me the money for transport: $30USD is allocated for each transfer. I had to pay for my own transfer and they refused to reimburse me, telling me they spent that aspect on placing me in a hotel instead of a home stay which I didn’t ask for or want.

4. They discourage transparency: My coordinator got in trouble for telling me how much the transfer allowance is. The hotel is under a contract not to disclose how much accommodation costs I found out on the last week when I asked for a reimbursement so I could leave the project.

5. The last week of placement the clinic was closed and they refused to reimburse me part of the $500 I’d paid. I ended up going to the World Paediatric Project in Belize city, after the clinic suggested it, and having to pay for my own food, accommodation and transport after I had already payed Kaya. Kaya’s response was it wasn’t their fault the clinic was closed.

6. They are unsupportive and unprofessional if you have an issue with their service: A woman from Kaya called up my co-ordinator when I asked for a partial refund for the two weeks they hadn’t been able to provide to ask ‘whose side are you on?’. I felt like I was in a battle against Kaya rather than discussing a business transaction.

7. They refuse to take responsibility for their inability to provide what they advertise: During the first week they blamed the government, the co-ordinator and the clinic for the clinic being closed. They then blamed everyone all over again for the misinformation.

8. They’re unprofessional: I dealt with the director, attempting to get a refund for the two weeks of elective I didn’t receive. It took been over 2 months and she periodically ignored my emails or gave me long spiels about why what has happened isn’t her fault, avoiding addressing a refund.

9. They made me feel isolated, resentful and have prolonged everything to the extent where it really ruined my trip. I thought if I told them what had happened they would quickly and efficiently tell me their refund policy and deal with it. Instead it has been a constant back and forth battle via email. I had little support in Belize and ended up leaving because the clinic was closed and I wanted to get away from the situation.

10. After everything Kaya refunded me $103 GBP(10% of the total) after not being able to provide 60% of the elective, not even close to a fair refund.

Basically, this elective was hell. The week that I went to clinic was amazing but all the stress, trauma and disappointment over this wasn’t worth it. Don’t waste your holidays or money on this elective. There are plenty of other organizations out there who can organize your elective properly and based on my experience I would suggest you stay away from this one. It’s been two months, I’ve yet to receive even an answer to a refund and the whole situation was just stressful and unnecessary.

Response from Kaya Responsible Travel

In response to your review,Susanna, we at Kaya would like to respond and explain some of the experiences that you encountered. I know we communicated extensively with you at the time,
so just to respond to the specific points raised;

1. All projects offer different inclusions, and while other countries do include language classes, for Belize, because it is English speaking, we don't need to do these here. There are some Spanish-speaking Guatemalans who work locally, but the communities we serve tend to be the local Belizeans. We have never advertised language classes in Belize. This information would have been from one of our other country project information sheets which you looked at when choosing your placement, I'm afraid.

2. The accommodation we offered at the time was either homestay or volunteer house. At the time, no homestays were available and you were allocated a private room in the volunteer house. It was low-season and so there were periods of your stay when no other volunteers were there, unfortunately, but we don't have any control over this. Because of the lack of availability of homestays families, we have since removed this as an option we offer. The volunteer house is great quality accommodation in the centre of town, that most volunteers really appreciate.

3. We had worked for the Good Shepherd clinic for some time prior to your arrival. The individual you spoke with was not familiar with our name, but the people running the project were. The clinic had shut because of the elections, (these dates are not pre-planned, so unlike a regular public holiday we cannot accommodate for them with our bookings). Because there were some visiting surgeons in town at the time, the head of the clinic decided to proceed with a few surgeries on a skeleton staff, but would not accept any new volunteers in, as they wouldn't be able to do the orientations and introductions required. It was unfortunate that this did affect your placement, but there was nothing we could have done to avoid it unfortunately. Since this time, we have, instead, started working with the main public hospital, which, due to it's size is less affected by such incidents and allows the volunteer placements more stability as a result.

4. Our coordinator did not get into trouble for telling you how much the transfers were, but she explained that we pay for the placement as a package, with all the transfers included. If a volunteer decides the don't want certain elements of the program, we can't do customised , individual pricing each time, so we are unable to return for individual items like this.

5. For the last week of your placement you were offered 2 options - one working in the clinic locally, and the other an opportunity in Belize city. We advised strongly against going to Belize city due to our concerns for your safely, but when we spoke, you insisted that the opportunity was a great one and that you understood that by taking this option, we were unable to refund you the accommodation, which was already pre-paid in the volunteer guesthouse. This was agreed prior to your choosing that option.

6. As the company Director and the person who spoke on numerous occasions to both yourself and your family, I can assure you that I never asked "whose side are you on". I'm not sure what this refers to, but I am sorry if anything was interpreted that way.

7/8/9. Unfortunately, the government did call an election and the clinic did decide that on a skeleton staff they could not take responsibility for a new volunteer that week. I'm sorry if you think we were making excuses, but there are many factors in the developing world that we have no control over, and the need for flexibility in these situations is a must. Because you did have this unfortunate experience we DID give you a partial refund, Susanna, despite us paying 100% of the costs to the people involved. We commit to our communities that we will not take back any money we provide for situations beyond their control which is why we have to impose these conditions, to protect them.

I am truly sorry that your experience was not everything you had hoped, and I am very happy that the placement was fantastic. We do work hard to ensure that every organisation we work with has a genuine need - and we will continue to support the projects. Belize has consistently been a top destination for Kaya with so many volunteers falling in love with this amazing country and the great with which we are involved here.

No, I don't recommend this program

About Kaya Responsible Travel

The idea behind Kaya is to bring together the quality and impact of grass roots projects with the breadth of choice, quality of structure and organization and level of service that enables everyone the opportunity to contribute to positive action and...