YWF-Kido Foundation: Marine Turtles Conservation
74% Rating
(10 Reviews)

YWF-Kido Foundation: Marine Turtles Conservation

Join the YWF-Kido Foundation to make a difference in Grenada! Located at the Kido Ecological Research Station (KERS) in Carriacou Island, we are looking for Volunteers to participate in Kido Foundation Sea Turtle Monitoring and Tagging Programme.

Volunteers will actively participate in monitoring and data-collection of 2 critically endangered Sea Turtle Species, Leatherback and Hawksbill, nesting on 3 different beaches on the Island; helping to prevent poaching activities of turtles and eggs. (From March to August)

Duties:
- Night patrolling in the High North proposed National Park area, from 8pm to 6am, 5 nights a week.
- Assisting local guides tagging post-nesting turtles, carapace measuring & other data collection, and turtle tracks and nests disguising

Locations
North America
Project Types
Language
English
Housing
Hostel
Starting Price
$500.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
The cost per volunteer is USD500 for the first 30 days and USD15 for any extra day, for accommodation, cooking gas and electricity; for a minimum 30 days stay. For shorter periods a total of USD500 is required. Food is purchased and cooked by volunteers. Any other expenses, such as flights or other transportation costs are covered by the volunteers. Volunteers are expected to have their own travel insurance.
Other Locations
St. David

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    83%
  • Support
    70%
  • Fun
    85%
  • Value
    72%
  • Safety
    73%
Show 1 - 10 of 10
Default avatar
Leonel
10/10

Real changes

I am a marine biologist volunteering with Kido Foundation, my review is made based on the perspective of someone who has been working and volunteering in several projects in four "undeveloped" countries with coral reefs, reef fish, research fisheries, whale sharks and grate mantas, nurse and black tip sharks, sea turtles, mangroves, Mayan and Maldivian comunities.

The KIDO Ecological Station is a place for those willing to make real changes right now. They have several ongoing projects, the turtle project is the one I have been part of the most and the positive impact this work is making with the two most endangered sea turtle species in the world is remarkable, you can see it immediately, the hatchling rates are very high and the numbers of nesting turtles are consistent every season. The two directors of the station, Marina and Dario have a real commitment with all the programs they are running and you can tell the love and passion they have in everything they do, they are people from whom one can learn. KIDO is a place for those who want to do real conservation living in a place surrounded by nature, it is for those who can appreciate wildlife more than their own self. I can say the installations and rooms are some of the best I have lived in so far, and they have the biggest swimming pool in the world full of marine wildlife just a few steps down the forested hill of the property. I am very grateful for the opportunity of being here learning from and contributing to this project, this place and interacting with the personnel at KIDO.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Chloe
2/10

Deceived & Disappointed

While I intend to touch on the negatives and positives of my experience with the program, I will start with the latter because I assure you, it is brief.

The two directors on site-- are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to turtles; they are extremely thorough, thoughtful, and wise during training and turtle nesting. The practices and procedures they use are 100% aimed at the comfort and love for the all of the turtles that come to the beaches they patrol. While my patrol team consisted of two volunteers and a guide, the small group allowed for plenty of engagement and hands on experience; I am extremely pleased with the knowledge I was able to acquire over the month I spent at KIDO.

Although the turtle patrols gifted me with knowledge and experience, the rest of my time with KIDO was nearly unbearable for three main reason: the location, the living, and the directors.

It is important to understand that I was a young female traveller, arriving (and staying for a few days) solo.

Part 1: The KIDO Compound
While town is only two and a half miles away, the KIDO project is located in dense forest. (There are absolutely gorgeous views from the property.) Because of the sixteen dogs at KIDO, it is understandable why they chose a location in the middle of the woods. But for volunteers, it quickly makes you feel isolated, especially if you are alone, because you cannot leave the property if you are alone. When the leaders offered trips to town (mentioning it in advance), the departure time itself was often decided last minute-- making it difficult to make day plans-- and only at their convenience. The alternative was to ask our turtle guide for a ride (who lived 20 minutes away) or walk 1.5 miles to the bus stop, get a bus to town, take the bus back, and walk 1.5 miles uphill with groceries. This sounds fine but I assure you, walking with 4 grocery bags in 90 degree weather uphill before a 9 hour patrol really bites. Speaking of biting, the KIDO compound is the Carriacou mosquito breeding ground. I’m still confused why there are significantly less mosquitos once you step off the property, but all I know is that all natural mosquito repellent is a joke. While I practically bathed myself in a five star rated lemon eucalyptus spray for the first two days, I still acquired over 200 mosquito bites on my legs alone in the first few days and nearly went insane. Yes, body composition plays a role in this, but I know I’m not the only one who found it unbearable.

Part 2: The Jungle Bungle
This is a GREAT option if you are really into coexisting with nature and don’t mind cleaning feces multiple times a day. It is not dorm style living: it is an open bungalow that has a main door, two bedrooms with doors, a kitchen, and a living room (which are open to the outside). Because of the design of the house, the kitchen and living room are elevated in the canopy of the trees: the trees act as ladders for critters. I am all for roughing it-- after all, I have grown up camping, living eco friendly, and going on outback excursions. While I did not expect any kind of luxury, I simply felt misinformed: eco friendly and open housing are not synonymous.

Some of the returning critters are rats, opossums, bats, iguanas, lizards, six inch grasshoppers, and mammoth sized moths. Because of the critter population, the leaders suggest hiding the food in the cabinets so the animals don’t feast on it; while they still manage to eat the food in the cabinets, they also loved to feast on trash absent of food-- tin foil was a hit-- sunglass cases, and book bags. This became problematic, not only because of the food feasting, but they would run all over dishes, silverware, clothes, etc.-- making the house and your belongings a personal litter box. Beyond the obvious fact that it is extremely unsanitary, there is no way to completely control the situation because the animals will always be able to invade the house.

Furthermore, the directors insist that you don’t lock doors. Although the remote location provides some aspect of comfort, I don’t think I should be told to feel safe. (See Pt. 3, Bullet #1.) As we practiced their diver call system before leaving to inform them of where we were going, there were multiple times that the directors left the property without telling us their whereabouts-- once when we were seeking help and their phone went unanswered.

Part 3: Directors

Bluntly, I was gobsmacked at the abundance of inappropriate behavior displayed to me. As a nineteen year old girl, alone at times, I was extremely uncomfortable by one of the leader's remarks. Even after my fellow volunteer and I expressed our discomfort, we were told it was “just his ‘personality;’ rape, sex, and drugs are a part of life so [we] shouldn’t feel uncomfortable when he talks about them.” While I understand the someone's inability to change his “personality,” I would have felt better had she-- a director of the program-- taken our concerns and discomfort more seriously and understood why we felt he was inappropriate.

It would be one thing if you could interject the ramble to express your feelings, but the authoritative spiels left you vulnerable to whatever came out of his mouth, despite your discomfort. I do not think a seventy year old should be talking about sex with twenty year olds daily. Here are a few snippets:

Before my arrival, my parents dutifully inquired on the safety of the program and felt assured after emailing that it was a safe program. My parents also expressed their concern for me being alone with a male guide all night and requested I always be with another volunteer.

Three hours into my stay, one of the leaders told me about a past volunteer who was raped by a guide on patrol. Three hours into my stay, I wasn’t sure if I should catch the afternoon ferry home. Alone in the middle of an isolated island, surrounded by complete strangers, I felt quite uneasy.

The next day, one of the leaders told me I was scheduled to start patrolling the following night (alone with the guide), yet acted shocked that I was uncomfortable with the arrangement and wanted to wait until the other volunteer arrived. Even though the schedule was ultimately changed to accommodate, it shouldn’t have even been up for debate.

2. There were constantly random sexual comments:
A ten minute rant was centered around a girl who posted a picture of the lasagna she made for dinner and his belief that something about it was deeply sexual and she posted it because she lacked a sex life.
On a day trip to Paradise Beach, before leaving, he told us about the three volunteers who went there, were drugged and left on a sidewalk for three days, then were coaxed into a brothel by a man at the beach. (Why didn’t KIDO look for them if they were missing for three days? I still don’t know.)
While telling me about his trip to New York City, he said he “saw how the men would walk down the street with their heads hanging low, hands in their pockets-- probably masturbating.” Um?
How people on the island practice beastiality.
While speculating on how some people don’t like KIDO, he said “people often say that we don’t even have sex-- we do! But only if it’s kinky.”
While I wore a dress to town, he told me that I was asking for men to heckle me because I looked like a “little Easter bunny.”

In summary: I don’t really care what kind of personality you have, but as a director of an organization, there should be some fundamental filter for what comes out of your mouth. I really never wanted to hear about the KIDO sex life and how lasagna pictures are posted out of lust.

3. While my roommate expressed frustration about something, one of the leaders told her he would only allow her to complain because she “must be on [her] period.” Some kind of sexist rubbish, if ya’ ask me.

4. I don’t know where the leader felt he gained the authority to remove my water bottle from my possession while I was holding and drinking it because he thought it displayed that I’m “insecure and the water bottle serves as my safety barrier.” I don’t feel the need to elaborate on why this is inappropriate.

By the end of week three, my roommate and I found the situation unbearable and ended up moving into a local hotel for the rest of our stay. Although we continued to patrol for the organization, after our night off, the directors would tell us about how “six turtles came” but poachers killed them because we weren’t patrolling. (I question the validity because we never saw more than two turtles in one night...) Although the claim seems far fetched, I still fail to see the point in telling us that when it would clearly upset us.

After patrolling over 180+ hours for the organization, their failure to send me off at the ferry or thank me for my help perfectly epitomizes the level of respect the volunteers, in my experience, receive at this program.

Quite frankly, the behavior displayed to me was inexcusable. This was my experience with the program and I do not feel the need to justify or defend how I felt about it, despite any response to my review. I am not saying that someone should not attend this program, I am just saying they should consider the possibility that it could fall short of the glowing recommendations that others made-- bearing in mind the experience I had. Clearly not everyone has the same experience, but I know I am not the only one who had a negative experience with the program.

Response from YWF-Kido Foundation

Chloe arrived before Cassie to volunteer for KIDO Nesting Sea Turtle Monitoring program 2017 and in the beginning she seemed a diligent person, though pretty childish.
She reported that she had a weird panic-attack in her room one night, after taking one dose of Benadryl for mosquito bites – she said that she went to bed forgetting to put on the fan –which keeps mosquitos off- waking up not knowing where she was in the dark and somehow, in her panicky state, she managed to break one of her bedroom top glass window slats, slightly wounding her hand. She had not informed us until the next morning after she had already communicated with her mom in the US via Skype (we live in a different bungalow 100 feet away) and she agreed to get rid of the leftover Benadryl drugs!
We purchased for Chloe mosquito repellent, sold in the local pharmacy ( DEET is banned by sea turtle conservation organizations working towards not destroying sea turtles, eggs and developing embryos with chemical poison) and, when asked, she said that this product was working well.

The real trouble started when Cassie arrived. We noticed right away her fleeting attention span of 2 seconds and Chloe began to fall in the same pattern of her roommate. Within few days we knew that we were dealing with two young ladies with the emotional intelligence level of 8 year olds. Cassie was playing the leader and Chloe the foot soldier, revealing her gregarious personality. We still had some hope that Chloe would have a mind of her own and we told her in private several times to be in charge, not to follow passively every one of Cassie’s decisions because her newly acquainted ‘friend’ could lead her into trouble. She said to us: ‘Yes, I already gathered that’… but in reality she did the opposite.
No matter the amount of training we did on nesting turtle beach procedures/protocol and personal safety on the field, as guests in a foreign country and representing KIDO in the eyes of public opinion, both girls got it all wrong… as became painfully obvious to us later on.

We need to underline here that KIDO is our home and a safe haven for guests, our isolated location keeps away human intruders and our dogs (RESCUED from puppy mills, abandonment and starvation) thank us back by guaranteeing the safety of the property.

Unfortunately, these two young ladies (not minors) twisted and distorted in their mind the reality around them, helped by their fervid imagination (close to hallucination), irrational fears to their own convenience.
Their two posts reveal a mixture of misunderstanding, misrepresentation, false perception of their surroundings, willful ignorance of social issues and, of course, lies.
Could Chloe’s fixation on sex related issues come from melting together in her brain of topics discussed about safety? (by the way, NOBODY took away the water bottle from Chloe!). How can she otherwise misinterpret serious instructions about precautions and safety behavior in order to protect them when on their own with talks 'about' sex? Either her mind had already a fixation/problem about this or she simply refuses to enter the information in her own mind, twisting meanings and words out of context.

The two never managed to patrol the beaches with our turtle guide/volunteer body guard for 5 days in a row (as required and agreed upon) and the total hours Chloe’s claimed to volunteer were much less, because either they were tired or booked other engagements for visiting the surrounding islets, going to evening party/events, etc…

They were tired because they did not get enough sleep during the day since every morning they were hiking down and up of 1/2 mile of trail to reach a beautiful secluded sandy beach nearby our Station to get a tan, a main focus of their stay at Kido. In fact, Cassie (the spokesperson of the two) told us that they could not avoid to go to this beach every day, instead of resting, as we were suggesting, and that her aim was to become ‘blond, thin and tanned’. Sadly, Chloe followed her.

We also found out, after they left, that the two were also not eating sufficient food because they wanted to be slimmer/ skinnier! This is not a crime but when you are participating in a rigorous conservation program that is physically demanding this can provide additional concerns, increased health risks and mental instability. Both needed to be more observant of their surroundings, about their intentions for participating in this program and more personally aware/ responsible for their own wellbeing. Malnutrition, dehydration and overexertion can be fatal in a program such as this easily turning a tiny slip/ trip into a terrible accident halting all monitoring efforts for the night or possibly much longer than that.

Carriacou is one of the safest social environments we have ever known, people are friendly and helpful when you are in need, but, as elsewhere in the world, one encounter with a rogue person with bad intentions can really spoil your stay, get you into a dangerous situation and possibly ruin your life. This is why, looking at these two unaware, unconcerned, living in their own bubble, overaged teenagers, we were worried about their safety when they decided to wander alone out of our station; this is why we encouraged our local guide to accompany them as much as possible, even outside patrol time. An extra responsibility to help ensure their safety and wellbeing outside of his normal responsibilities to be their bodyguard during turtle patrol time. He accepted, though he has a family of his own (wife and two children). They did not need to call him to go to town for groceries, they came with us, except one day when we could not go in the afternoon and we asked them to come with us in the morning… but their priority was already set, in the morning they were to go to the secluded beach to swim and get tanned. Note that KIDO station has a 100 steps stone path leading to KIDO bay, where you can safely swim, a 5 minute walk… but, ouch, this is not a sandy but a stony beach!… and from KIDO to the nearest village, where there is a bus stop to town, it is a 10 minute walk, less than a ¼ of a mile (check Google map). There volunteers can take a bus for 3 EC or 1$ USD the remainder of the trip into Hillsborough to do any shopping they may need.

We delivered them a clean house and they left this house, where they were living for approximately two weeks, as a dump! Lacking the skills for basic cleaning, they put the blame on wildlife wandering in the house: house geckos, a standard feature in Caribbean homes (no more than a few inches long), were suddenly transformed by their imagination into iguanas (at least 3 feet long)! ‘Mammoth’ moths (not larger that the palm of a hand) were suddenly the target of irrational fear and rats/mice… right. Why these creatures ‘invaded’ the house?... Well, we discovered, with disgust, after they left, that Chloe and Cassie (or one of them) were throwing out of the kitchen window leftover food, vegetable and fruits peels and seeds, etc… against our precise instructions to store all the food supply in the fridge and give the leftovers to the dozens of wild land tortoises in the bush, but away from the house.
No wonder that this uncivilized procedure attracted 'unwanted' guests!
Precautionary tales that escaped their twitter attention span range possibly? and here we can break the news that the animals are never to blame for infestation. The people that leave leftover food outside of their tent while camping are to blame for attracting the unwanted attention. If there were perhaps bears in these woods like at many other camping destinations up in North America or other parts of the world maybe our requests to place biodegradable edible remains away from your residence would not have been so easily overlooked.
The ‘unsanitary’ resulting conditions were therefore the results of the inability of Cassie and Chloe to cope with basic cleaning. By the way, our present volunteer keeps a spotless house (the same) and we receive not one complaint about wildlife intruding in the house.

Finally, and most important, the report from the field was damning. Cassie and Chloe tried, with their selfish and egocentric behavior, to jeopardize our turtle conservation program by not following our specific instructions:
-shining the bright headlamp lights all over the beach and the sea, scaring off would-be-nesting turtles (this is why when the patrol team was not on the beach the turtles were coming, happy to find a quiet and dark spot to nest);
-not willing to patrol the beach at the scheduled time, at least every hour, especially Chloe (because of course they were too tired);
-having TANTRUMS and RAGE FITS at the slightest criticism (Cassie) while collecting data and when a turtle was nesting, therefore obliging our guide to stop his monitoring work to deal with this nonsense, therefore disturbing the nesting process;
-never assisting our guide erasing turtle nest and tracks, a necessary tiring task to camouflage the nest so morning poachers could not locate them.
-refusing to monitor in the early morning two smaller beaches (as agreed upon) to erase turtle tracks against poaching… because, again, they were too tired! So, since one of these nesting beaches was precisely the same where our deflated tire ladies hiked to to get suntanned in the day, they were literally ignoring patrolling for nesting tracks while being there for hours on end..
So much for loving turtles!

Worst of all we had been told (after they left) that these two young ladies asked our guide if they could bring two newly acquainted local guys to the beach in the night with them to watch turtles. Our guide, who could not really know how to deal with their above mentioned breaking rule behaviors, this time said a firmly NO, because he knows very well KIDO’s first rule that is we do not bring unaffiliated guests to patrol at night unless it is agreed upon firstly with the KIDO Foundation directors specifically. We cannot stress to our volunteers enough that YOU NEVER TELL OTHER PEOPLE WHAT YOU ARE HERE FOR , WHAT YOU ARE DOING, WHERE AND WHEN YOU GO TO THE BEACH (unless you are introduced by the directors to particular persons such as biologists/ volunteers or project assistants), especially as you venture around the island for sightseeing, grocery shopping and other events/ activities where the KIDO directors are not present with you.
So Cassie and Chloe were talking freely to male strangers about what they were doing, where and when.
Unless we introduce the volunteers personally to friends and trustworthy persons, the volunteers cannot possibly know who to trust in a new foreign social context. These guys they met on the street or events/parties ask to come to the beach for two reasons, either to poach turtle eggs when the patrol team is gone or because they are attracted to the female volunteers. So, once again, these two ‘volunteers’ broke our rules and acted in a very foolish way, jeopardizing our conservation work and placing themselves in a possibly dangerous situation. The guide reported that he knew that one of the fellows was not a good person to bring around at night.
Just this breach of trust would had been a very serious reason, if we had known in time, to expel Cassie and Chloe from KIDO and the beach monitoring task.
And they have the gall to ask why we did not thank them for their ‘volunteer’ time? Why we did not go to say goodbye when they were leaving?

There was also another incident involving local guys. After one day spent in the South of the island on another tourist advertised beach, on a Sunday, while waiting for a bus, they asked almost everyone with a car passing by to get a ride to KIDO. They call us while we were out in the North of the island on an educational field trip with children. We told them to wait in town for us, once our field trip was over. In the end they got a bus ride, but the result of their ‘advertising’ their stay location was that two guys with a taxi car appeared at KIDO gate next morning clearly looking for the two girls while they were going to their preferred secluded beach. This had never occurred before given the difficult dirt road to reach the forested property of KIDO. After 27 years we can tie the dots alright and pretty quickly detect fibbles, especially late teenage fibbles.

We do not need these kind of ‘volunteers’, they do not have the faintest idea what volunteering means and have no interest in learning important facts of life that do not fit in their bubble or know-it-all mindset.
Sadly, they lie to themselves, to their parents and then to us. We suspect that in reality their claimed ‘interest on turtles’ was just an excuse to have a cheap holiday, dressed up with a little conservation work adapted to their conveniences (that turned to be destructive for nesting turtles and for KIDO conservation work), have a good time and meet guys. They would build up a ‘good’ excuse for their parents and for us in order to leave the KIDO compound and roam freely around the island out of our guidance. By the way, one last little gem of a sentence from Cassie, who, after she watched online the photo of our RA due to arrive in June, she exclaimed: ‘How cute! I wish I could stay longer at KIDO to meet this guy!’. So, suddenly all the ‘horrible living condition at KIDO’ disappeared as long as she could meet our Research Assistant. Is this not also a sexist remark?

Suggestion for their parents: Cassie and Chloe are a liability for an organization like ours trying to preserve our precious environment and wildlife and they could get into trouble easily in a foreign environment. Please keep a watchful eye on them, verify if what they tell you is the truth or keep them home, if you can. They have not fledged yet!

For future volunteers: we had dozens of really great volunteers at KIDO, some returning year after year, dedicated to save our endangered species and we thank them from the bottom of our heart for their efforts and taking their time to help us, but, if the priority of volunteers-to-be is not the conservation of sea turtles, but just having a good time, please stay home or book in a five-star hotel, if you can afford it. Do not waste our time and jeopardize our program. Thank you!

PS: we apologize for the late response, but we have important conservation work to do here that needs attending.

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
Cassie
1/10

Disappointed

I have been passionate about sea turtles and conservation for as long as I can remember, and have been involved in other sea turtle monitoring and conservation programs in other parts of the world. That being said, I was disappointed in what great potential this program has, yet it is being wasted with poor program leadership and in the way volunteers are treated throughout the program.

I do see that many volunteers are incredibly happy with their stay at KIDO, which is what influenced me to come to Carriacou Island and volunteer with this organization in the first place. Unfortunately for me and my fellow volunteer I was with, our experience was quite different.

I will start by addressing the fact the program leaders are incredibly knowledgable and passionate about what they do, and their initiatives to save wildlife and preserve the presence of these amazing creatures for future generations does not go without notice. I learned so much within my month at KIDO about sea turtles and was able to assume a more hands-on role in every aspect of measuring sea turtles, recording data, relocating eggs, helping with hatchlings, etc, than in my previous volunteer programs.

That being said, I felt incredibly mis-leaded very quickly after my arrival at the KIDO compound. At first glance it looks like a wonderful place to stay, with an ocean view and an open to the outside atmosphere nestled in the woods of the island. It wasn't "dorm-style" living as they claimed it to be on the site, but I thought it would be even better upon arriving.

I was wrong. The spot we stayed in had doors to the bedrooms, but the outside living area and kitchen was completely open to the outside. Each night we had to hide all of our food in the oven and lock our trash in a cabinet because we spent the first week cleaning up the leftover trash the rats and possums would dig through and then create a mess of all over our kitchen. My roommate's backpack and sunglass case was also chewed through by the excessive amount of rats. Beyond the creatures, the bugs do not create a nuisance, but more of a complete and utter full fledged swarming zone. I have traveled to a remote location and lived in a poor village in Costa Rica and would gladly take that over what I dealt with at Kido. Because the vegetation seeps into the house do to the fact there are no doors, it is a breeding ground for mosquitoes who live in the vegetation. We went anywhere and everywhere exploring on that island and no place was worse than our very own bathroom at Kido. Be prepared to take a towel to swat with when you use the restroom and leave the shower, I had up to 15 swarming me at once at times leaving the bathroom and just simply resting in the common area. My roommate had 130 bites after just four days there. Deet might help, if you were allowed to use it at Kido. They do sell it in town for a whopping 16 bucks if it becomes unbearable, and trust me -- it will.

Beyond the bugs, iguanas live freely throughout your bedroom and living space. And be prepared because they will poop on anything you own and everywhere you breathe. Everyday I would pick off the iguana poop on my bed, on my mosquito net, in our dish drying space, as well as throughout our cabinets where we kept food. Because there are no doors it is easy access for these creatures to create their own home. It wouldn't be an excessive bother except picking up hundreds of iguana droppings throughout your living space gets tiring -- and not to mention incredibly unhealthy, especially since the poop (and rat poop) accumulates where you keep your food.

This might have been bearable for me and my fellow roommate except coupled with the management of this program it became utterly ridiculous. You will spend the lead-up to your arrival in Carriacou conversing with the director -- who is a pleasant and nice lady that anyone would assume would be your go-to when you get to KIDO, and heavily involved in whatever responsibilities you're doing while you're there. Except from the time of my arrival to my departure I dealt with a different contact who turned out to be an incredibly frustrating and at times incredibly inappropriate individual.

This leader would often tell me and the other volunteers about stories of other volunteers -- one that apparently was raped and another 3 that joined a local brothel and were lost for three days. Stories that would make any current volunteer wonder why on earth they were being told of horror stories of previous volunteers within the same program. Why any program director would want to jeopardize the success of their program by going into vivid detail about past years gone wrong I have no idea. I guess it was an attempt to keep us safe and aware, but it was an attempt that completely backfired. We couldn't leave the place without telling them where we were going, and then before we could leave he would launch into an hour long explanation about why we shouldn't go, then stemming into 6 other odd topics he would then delve into for no apparent reason. The man likes to hear himself talk, and he will go hours if you don't stop him. The topics range from crazy to just plain inappropriate.

He would also be incredibly hard to work with in situations when we needed him, like on turtle patrols. When a turtle would nest, he would say things like "Get the measuring tape, take the picture NOW!, no, get this, now do that, quickly!!" When we tried to scramble to get everything done, he would yell at you for doing the job he asked you to do and then ask you to do something else. Taking measurements and helping relocate eggs became a battle because he would often get frustrated with how you did something when you were just trying to figure out which thing he wanted you to do first out of the 6 things he yelled at you to do. You'd be leaning over trying to collect the eggs from him and then he would ask you to do something else and when you did that he would then question you and ask you why you stopped doing your original task. It would become very taxing because while you are trying to learn and absorb as much as you can, he makes you feel stupid if he's in a bad mood himself. One time I made a comment about the sock he put over a turtle's head to keep it calm and he told me "Don't make any more comments, This is what would happen to you if you got abducted."

The lack of support from the program leaders became incredibly frustrating. You are over 3 miles from town, in an isolated area with little to no neighbors, but good luck getting a ride to town for groceries if you're desperate. Your best bet is to walk a ways and then pay 6 bucks US total for a bus that will take you some of the way. Everything is on their time. If you ask for a ride, they will just tell you the times they are able to go, which sometimes isn't until later in the week. Never once did they ask if we needed a ride to get something, and never once did they just take the small time out of their day to just help us get to town. Most of the time we walked 3 miles carrying bags and bags of groceries because no bus goes up to KIDO -- it is too isolated and the roads are too bad.

When we approached the leadership about how frustrated and uncomfortable we were with how things were going, and with dealing with the program manager -- she did nothing but defend his actions. We told her how we felt uncomfortable with the way he talked and acted around us and she just blamed his personality and offered "some people can't deal with him and some people can." Never once did she ask us what she could do to make it better, but instead brushed off our concerns.

So, me and my roommate made it two weeks before we packed up and moved to John's Unique Resort in town. We wished we were there the entire time. For 30 bucks a night we got breakfast and supper included, and the meals were incredible. After the multiple warnings from the leadership that townies would drug us, and try and involve us in all their wrong-doings, the best part of the trip was staying in town. Not once did we feel unsafe, as they often told us that the town is seeped in danger. We met locals who cared about us, ensured our safety, helped us get from A to B and individuals who made our last two weeks the best time of the entire trip. Despite leaving KIDO, we did not give up on the program. We still patrolled nightly and did what we both set out to do -- save turtles. It's a shame that the conservation efforts and the passion that you find for saving these turtles could be clouded by the way the program is run, but I did not let that inhibit my ability as a volunteer.

I would suggest to anyone going that they try and find somewhere else to stay in town, as we heard from all the locals that so many other volunteers did the same thing. Many could not make it the entire time due to the leadership's antics and the living conditions at KIDO. Despite this, I'm at the very most just disappointed that this program has the potential to do so much more, have so many more volunteers and help save so many turtles, but I am afraid that the way it is run right now and at least in my experience staying there I am deterred from coming back and participating as well as recommending it to any future volunteers.

My hope is that maybe the leadership can calm down, learn to listen to the concerns of the volunteers, and maybe have someone else take more control of the program -- as she is who I thought I would be dealing with the whole time. But even then, she wouldn't listen to my concerns and simply defended her colleague. I wish that there would be more support, and more understanding from these directors but it seems they are stuck in their ways and little can change as is.

How can this program be improved?

The directors need to completely change. Volunteers shouldn't arrive and immediately hear stories of raped and drugged past volunteers. Concerns should be met and SOLVED, not brushed under the rug and blamed on the leadership's "personality." If I come to a director and say I am uncomfortable with how I am being spoken to and what topics they choose to delve into with a 20 year old minor, then I should be taken seriously. Don't blindside volunteers with living conditions. Tell them EXACTLY what to expect, because I expected "dorm-style" living. Granted simple living, but not being pooped on by iguanas and picking rat feces out of my peanut butter.

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
Noora
10/10

KIDO is more than a project, it's a Home

I've been part of the volunteer program four times for periods of 4 weeks to a year between 2010-2012 and every time I've left wanting to go back. Marina and Dario are extremely conscious, loving, caring, genuine, talented and knowledgeable in every aspect. I've been the only volunteer and I've been part of a group, always feeling safe and appreciated. Project is more than just patrolling the beaches, it's about education, about respect, about community and love towards all living creatures. Rehabilitating and understanding the nature. These people will do and give anything to save an innocent life. My needs were met when I was sick or injured, questions were answered and I was offered support in my needs and worries -personal or program related- and freedom to be part of the island life if I so wished. When I was the only female, I was patrolling the beaches with a local guide and a dog so my safety never was at stake. I had so much fun which is why I returned so many times. I am willing to give you more information of the project and my experience, feel welcome to contact me!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Tom
9/10

Response to Danny's negative comments

In response to some of the negative comments posted by Danny above. I’m not sure exactly why he has suddenly decided to write his review 9 years later?

My name’s Tom and I worked with Kido as a volunteer for almost 2 years from 2010-2011. If you have any questions regarding the project or the work Kido do, feel free to send me a question through this website.

Ok let’s get started:
1- “Little actual support from the hosts”

My response:This is not the experience I had or any of the many volunteers I worked with had over the 2 year period I worked with them. I can remember on one occasion when I got sick, the hosts gave me 2 weeks off, took me to the doctors, regularly checked on me and even offered to pay for a flight off the island if I got worse. Similarly, the hosts would always offer to drive me to the beach or pick me up if I was feeling tired.

2- “Placed in potential dangerous situations”

My response: Maybe he has never worked for any other conservation projects in the Caribbean or around the world. If he had, he might know that no project is 100% safe. Other projects I have worked on have had serious incidents. In my experience there has never been an incident on a Kido project and that is down to how seriously they take volunteer safety.

In my opinion you are always going to take a risk when working abroad and to be honest, I don’t think that risk is any greater than walking down the road in your local town or city after hours. I have had my bicycle stolen out of my hands in broad daylight, been threatened verbally and physically, attacked etc all in my home city of Chester. I think the worst thing that happened to me at Kido was that I got hit on the head by a turtle’s flipper. I had some other minor injuries - all my own fault!

And I did happen to meet the ‘local poacher’. He waved at me and smiled. He did have a machete in his hand, but it’s important to mention that ALL local guys carry machetes on the island – it’s perfectly normal as they use it as a tool for day to day tasks.

3- “An example of the danger the volunteers were placed in was when I was stopped by a local smuggler & poacher holding his machete and I told I should get of his beach now. I called the hosts who informed me to 'man up'”

My response: I think I’ve addressed this point above, but I would like to add that every time I felt that I wanted to raise an issue of safety with the hosts, it was taken VERY seriously.

4 –“Several other volunteers who were young females were patrolling these beaches at night either in pairs or on their own which was incredibly dangerous.”

My response: In my experience females NEVER patrolled on their own. All females patrolled either with myself or a trusted and experienced local guide.

I’m surprised that he actually managed to last more than one night on the beach, seeing as it was “incredibly dangerous” he must have been terrified!

5- “The hosts saw themselves as some sort of wildlife guardians but in reality they were more interested in the publicity and looking good in front of the tourists.”

My response: This is just absolute nonsense – completely ignorant of all the wildlife Kido foundation have protected, saved, rehabilitated, nurtured over the years they have been active. You only have to read the biography of Marina Fastigi to know this is not a person who is just concerned with “publicity” and “looking good”. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of Marina’s personality. I think the truth is most people who meet her see her as a wildlife guardian. She does what she does because she is passionate about it.

6- “One example was for a photo opportunity for a paying groups of tourists dragging a female Hawksbill back up the beach to allow all the groups to have they photo taken with her.”

My response: This is completely taken out of context. Kido have rescued countless turtles and have ensured that turtles can lay their eggs safely on the beach. Turtles are often moved to and from the beach, to boats, to and from the project site – for measurements, to check their health etc. When tourists are present at the beach, it is important that they get a chance to take a picture with the turtle – and this in no way harms the animal. I’ve worked for many other turtle projects where turtles have to be handled for scientific data to be recorded – sometimes pulling them out of the water, dragging them up onto boats and even carrying out surgical procedures. This isn’t ideal of course, we would like to just leave them alone, but without handling them sometimes – how do we get any scientific data? Turtles are pretty tough animals: they can survive shark attacks, hurricane force seas and crashing waves, they swim thousands of miles…. I’m sure a turtle can survive a photo opportunity. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s ok to “drag one up the beach” for a photo opportunity – but in my experience, I never saw a turtle handled in this way.

Additionally, I never saw hosts at Kido charging tourists for pictures with turtles. Sometimes tourists were so moved by the experience of seeing a turtle that they insisted on making a donation. However, on many occasions no donations were made by tourists – but they did go away with a picture and story to tell their family and friends and spread the word of turtle conservation.

7- “A Spanish volunteer who was there at the same time as us who had agreed to stay for 1 year felt he was being treated like a slave and joked 'I'll die on this beach'.”

My response: Again, not my or anybody else’s experience I know of. On some other projects I’ve worked on in the Caribbean, Greece and Thailand you have to work 6 days a week. On some occasions (on other projects) when volunteers were short, I had to work as many as 14 days straight. In contrast, for Kido, I only worked 5 days a week. Even though the beach was walking distance – and a beautiful walk at that - they drove me to the beach and picked me up whenever I was feeling overtired. I got time off whenever, no questions asked, when I felt sick or unable to work. They left me to rest in the day time, unless one of the hosts came to deliver me some delicious cake he had bought! Or he didn’t want me to miss out on an experience rescuing a turtle.

8- “If you want to work with sea turtles there are many other areas better to do it. Sorry for the negative review but I felt it important for potential young students keen on gaining experience know what they could be letting themselves in for.”

My response: For a start, I would like to know which other projects he has worked for. I’m not sure how he can make such a comparison. I’ve worked on many other projects and have found them to be in line with what is expected of you – and in fact, Kido allocates volunteers more in terms of free time for sure.

Finally, I’m not sure why he’s apologizing for such a negative review 9 years later and then justifying it by showing how concerned he is for potential young students? What happened to his concern over the past 9 years? How many vulnerable young students have been in potentially dangerous situations during that time according to him? Jeez! More to the point, how has he been able to sleep at night?

To round off – I would like to let potential young students know what they could be letting themselves in for: The experience of a life time working with dedicated wildlife conservationists who are compassionate and inspiring people in a breath taking environment that is pristine. Enough said…..
Again, mail me if you want to know more details.

How can this program be improved?

Of course all projects have room for improvement but the bottom line is this program needs more volunteers, funding and recognition for their amazing work!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sara
10/10

An Amazing Experience!!

I volunteered at KIDO for one year, starting in 2001, and have returned many times since then, with my last stay in 2014. Every time I return, I have an amazing experience, engaging in a diversity of conservation activities that expand my perspective, world view and understanding.

I was there when the sea turtle monitoring program began and safety has always been a top priority of Dario and Marina, safety of both volunteers and the sea turtles. While sea turtle monitoring, I was never alone on the beach at night, always with a male local guide or research assistant, and a dog. Often Dario and Marina were there as well while tagging and measuring the turtles.

I have donated funds more than once to KIDO to purchase sea turtles from the local fisherman and release them afterwards. Each time, Dario and Marina made sure that the sea turtles were as comfortable and safe as possible until we were able to release them back into the ocean. I would not have donated if this was not the case.

There are so many wonderful facets of KIDO, from the sea turtle monitoring to the diversity of animals (wildlife, cats and dogs), to the swimming and snorkeling, to the local youth eco-club, to the puppet shows, to the wildlife rehabilitation, to the beautiful setting, to the living facilities, to the KIDO library, and to the people you meet. I would not trade my time there for anything.

Dario and Marina's dedication, creativity and way of living inspired me every day while I was at KIDO, and continue to inspire me every day while I am back in Canada.

As stated well by a previous reviewer, this project is for those who are dedicated to conservation work and willing to work hard, not for those just looking for a fun, social and easy going experience.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Marjut
10/10

Great learning experience

I volunteered in this project first time 2007 for 1 month and returned year later for 3 months internship.

I am not biologist or environmentalist by education and was looking to change my life and chose several volunteer projects with sea turtles during my sabbatical leave. I am also what you would call a more mature volunteer as I was 37 years old at the time. Since then I have worked in many sea turtle projects around the world.

KIDO project in Carriacou is one place where I learned a lot about sea turtles, conservation and different lifestyle in general. Working on the beaches during the night is hard work for sure, but it is also very rewarding. You know there are poachers that come to check the beach in the morning, I saw them myself, when one morning we stayed until 7am to see a leatherback turtle go back safely to the sea after nesting.

Being able to protect the nests, tag the turtles and making sure the nest is not found in the morning, but can be found later for nest excavation are jobs that make it all worth while. Writing down the data also is very important part of the global sea turtle conservation effort.

Accommodation surrounded by pristine nature and dogs and cats was also a big highlight for me. I still miss my favorite dogs Zhawe and Calimero. Snorkelling in the bay just down the stairs was also a treat.

I admire Dario and Marina tremendously for the life they are living and the kind of people they are. Sometimes I would wake up and hear the beautiful song played with flute by Dario and I helped to create back drops for a puppet show about saving whales that Marina had created these amazing puppets for.

This project is not for someone who is looking for fun, social volunteering experience with some work, but mostly fun. This project is very good for someone who is seriously interested in grassroots conservation work and is willing to make the effort and work hard.

What comes to safety, you need to be aware of the possibility of encountering a poacher or smuggler during the night, but during my night beach patrols, I only encountered other people on the beach 3 times and 2 times out of 3 they were some young people and one time only a guy that was a known thief that kept his distance due to our local guide and a dog. And then there was the time when the poachers came to check the beach, but pretended to just come for a morning swim. More scary were the superstitions and stories told by one of our local guides during the nights. But then again, he talked all the time and sang too and never slept while we rested between the patrols.

For me this is one of the best projects I have been to and I would love to go back one day.

How can this program be improved?

I wish this project would get additional funds to hire a bit more people, local and also international interns. While I was in the project, we very often could not patrol all the beaches every night or morning and sometimes the poachers would get there before us.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Danny
3/10

Contrasting experience

I visited the KIDO project with a friend summer 2006 we were both marine zoolgy students and very keen on gaining experience in the conservation field.

Firstly the positives -
Beautiful location, southern tip of a stunning island
Hands on experience with marine life
Contact with locals
Reasonable value accommodation

Now the negatives -
Little actual support from the hosts
Placed in potential dangerous situations
Worked like a slave at times
Treated local staff poorly
Treated very different from tourist visitors (not allowed to eat with them)
Didn't really practice what they preached

Conclusion -
The hosts saw themselves as some sort of wildlife guardians but in reality they were more interested in the publicity and looking good in front of the tourists.
One example was for a photo opportunity for a paying groups of tourists dragging a female Hawksbill back up the beach to allow all the groups to have they photo taken with her.
A Spanish volunteer who was there at the same time as us who had agreed to stay for 1 year felt he was being treated like a slave and joked 'I'll die on this beach'.
An example of the danger the volunteers were placed in was when I was stopped by a local smuggler & poacher holding his machete and I told I should get of his beach now. I called the hosts who informed me to 'man up'. Our local guide who was a brilliant guide got us all of the beach as he was concerned. Serval other volunteers who were young females were patrolling these beaches at night either in pairs or on their own which was incredibly dangerous.

So though appearing like an island paradise with Eco warriors safe guarding the local wildlife the reality is very different.
If you want to work with sea turtles there are many other areas better to do it. Sorry for the negative review but I felt it important for potential young students keen on gaining experience know what they could be letting themselves in for.

Response from YWF-Kido Foundation

It is unfortunate that the complainer’s volunteering time for KIDO Nesting Sea Turtle Monitoring was not a positive one. We regret not to recall any complaint, formal, verbal or otherwise at the time about the issues described, though his longing to be eating out with visiting tourists up the hill seems trivially funny.
Volunteering for nesting sea turtle conservation is for very dedicated and passionate persons keen in conserving these endangered species. The required patrolling conditions, such as walking on soft sandy beaches for 5 nights per week looking out for and helping nesting turtles and hatchlings, is not for everyone indeed.
In 13 years we had volunteers staying for two years and coming back to KIDO up to 3 times, gap year and even repeat volunteers over 60 years old, while some, fortunately a thin minority, could not take up this challenge, physically and/or mentally. There is a difference between a ‘cheap tourist holiday /volunteering approach’ and a ‘volunteering approach’. The first is centered on ‘my own good or bad deal experience’ and the second is centered on ‘how can I make a difference while I am here’. In any event, volunteers who do not ‘like’ the program or cannot keep up with night patrolling schedules, for any reasons, discuss the issue with the management (forty feet away in the next building) and should the issue not be reasonably resolved, are free to leave any time. Said that, we assume that volunteers applying for nesting sea turtle monitoring are mature enough to understand, prior to their arrival, what challenges they may be able to take or not.
Any night volunteering for turtles demands personal capacity for adaptation, physical and mental, and this is part of the experience.
The majority of KIDO volunteers are, thank goodness, psychologically mature and found their stay challenging, rewarding and exciting, and some even regard it as a life changing experience.
To clarify a few points:
1-KIDO policy on beach patrols is that volunteers (especially female volunteers) must patrol with either the male local guide or male research assistant. If the complainer saw a female volunteer patrolling on her own, this has occurred without our consent and probably out of her desire to shorten the patrolling time by separating the patrol team in two groups (in other words less walking on the beach). If this happened the local guide or research assistant was responsible of this breach of protocol and we were not notified.
2-The above precautions are in fact established to avoid placing volunteers in eventual difficult situations. If a man with a machete threatened the complainer, as stated from the letter, he further confirmed that he was not alone on the beach, but with the local guide to handle the situation (we just leave out any comment about how we allegedly responded, which can be interpreted in different ways by different persons). Since 2002, when this program started, we and the volunteers did not have any personal problem with poachers (usually older persons who continue to eat and share with friends turtle eggs as aphrodisiacs). Such a person simply vanishes from the beach before the patrol team is present, and the patrol team’s hard work in disguising turtle tracks and nest makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to trace back the exact nest location in the morning. Carriacou has a total population of 7.000, split in small coastal communities. We employ local guides who were raised and have family close to the patrolled area which makes this program safer regarding potential confrontations with poachers.
3- KIDO Foundation has also been running an all year round Sea Turtle Rescue & Release program since 2002, because in Grenada it is still legal to fish/hunt sea turtles 8 months a year. This program is financed by KIDO Foundation mainly through private donations from tourists, who offer their assistance to purchase the animal for the survival of the species. Photographic evidence is almost always taken, recording each individual animal and scenes of the operation. We are very careful not to foster any increase of the local turtle hunt demand. To regulate the turtles purchase, KIDO operates only with Carriacou fishermen who catch turtles as part of their traditional livelihood or by-catch turtles with fishing nets. It is our experience that, if we were not to buy the turtles, these would be left to suffer greatly, slaughtered and sold to the local fish monger, or sent to the main land Grenada alive, on their back, for their final destination in Grenada, enduring much cruel suffering for several days. So, in response to the complainer, we take photos of rescued turtles and their rescuers (tourists and helpers), but we do not drag them, we actually save them from the pot! See video of KIDO turtle rescues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CjtS… filmed and edited by a volunteer marine biologist three years ago.
In the last few years there has been a decrease in the number of caught turtles as more fishermen are giving up the practice of setting turtle nets. The local demand for turtle meat and eggs has noticeably decreased thanks also to our nation-wide campaign on health issues in connection with the consumption of turtles as food (mercury & other heavy metals poisoning risk).
KIDO Foundation views its Rescue & Release program as a temporary alleviation of sea turtle population decline until a complete moratorium on sea turtle hunting is approved by the Government of Grenada (KIDO on-line petition has reached more than 82,000 supporters)
4- FYI, eco-tourists, who sometimes were hosted at KIDO up to 2007, had their own accommodations, separate from the volunteers’ accommodations (also because they had different schedules and activities) and they either bought and cooked their own food (as volunteers do) using the facilities in their own accommodations or asked us to prepare meals for them, with the help of local staff, paid way above the minimum wages (same for turtle guides).
5- For the records, we had no Spanish volunteer in 2006 and we are located on the North tip of Carriacou, not the South. Our conclusion is that, in our view, the complaints in this late review are not accurate (including date and location) and his opinions, to which he is entitled, might be borne out of personal frustration in taking up the challenge and of following misinterpretation of the events, expressed in such an unlikely variety of issues.
In any case, we thank the complainer for giving us this opportunity to clarify our program and wish him all the best in any career he might pursue, at his own pace.
In faith
YWF-KIDO Foundation

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
Wild
10/10

The Best Experience I Have Had

Volunteering with this organization is one of the best decisions I have made. The directors are amazing people who really care about this cause. Conservation and awareness is the top priority here and by following suit there will never be a dull moment from when you set foot on the island of Carriacou.

A perfect opportunity for some passionate people looking to do something meaningful and important. The first time you see one of these amazing creatures come ashore is unlike any experience you will ever have. One you will truly cherish and never be able to stop talking about until you watch the hatchlings emerge from a nest you helped to save and swim out to sea.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
NCSU_2012
9/10

A Life Changing Experience!

I volunteered two summers at Kido and I plan to go back again!

Both summers I made friends from many difference countries, since volunteers come from all over the globe. Also, another cool thing about Kido is that there are animals EVERYWHERE. There are dogs, cats, land turtles (tortoises), lizards, and non-poisonous snakes.

The work on this project is physically intense since you will be patrolling beaches at night. You will definitely be IN SHAPE and lose some weight over the course of your volunteer work. Don't expect to be able to take a hot shower every day because you need to conserve water (the water source is rain water). The cool thing about this though is that when you return to "modern life" you will have established a GOOD habit of not wasting running water.

Main perks of the program include: seeing the moon and stars over the ocean at night, getting to touch and interact with real leatherback turtles (and some hawksbills too), and finally I must also mention the WONDERFUL mini "library" of secondhand books available to the volunteers.

Be prepared to expand your mind!!

Yes, I recommend

About The Provider

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The goal of YWF-Kido Foundation is to preserve the marine and tropical ecosystems. We promote sustainable development in the Grenadines through environmental education, training and scientific research. Kido Foundation mission statement: 'The social...