This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Bamboo.
Bamboo Alumni
93% Rating
(47 Reviews)

Bamboo Alumni

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Bamboo.

Bamboo is a New Zealand Charitable Trust (non-profit NGO) based in New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, and the USA. Their vision is to connect volunteers with communities in need. They offer dozens of programs in 19 countries on 5 continents.

Locations
North America
Starting Price
$500.00
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    89%
  • Support
    94%
  • Fun
    84%
  • Value
    93%
  • Safety
    95%

Program Reviews (47)

Default avatar
Sara
Female
33 years old
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
American University

BTC - Costa Rica - Sara Halabi

10/10

Well how about having a new family for a week? This is what I got from my experience in BTC Costa Rica. All I had to do was find my passion in this life and be part of a family that can nourish and help me grow and expand my idea in the right direction and the right influence. Everyone in the program came in with the good intentions and want to be part of humanity in helping other human being in their own way and their own projects. We were exposed to inspiring people that actually were the change in their community. I loved this experience as it helped me dig further down inside myself and try to find my way in connecting with people and make them feel my passion about my cause in food waste management as a whole. The coordinators, Colin and Caitie, have dedicated their time for each and everyone of us to take us into the right direction and connecting us with the right people.

If I can do it again, I will! I recommend this to anyone who has the passion and the power inside to change something around them that they don't like.

How can this program be improved?

This is the first time I participate in such a program, I found it an extremely enlightening experience for me. For now I have no comments on it except that it is AMAZING!

Default avatar
Catherine
Female
42 years old
São Paulo, Brazil

Inspired to be the change

10/10

I have decided to take a break from my advertising carreer after running a small agency in Brazil for almost 10 years. There was something inside me that told me to do that. I asked a friend that work in UN how to be a volunteer in Nepal and he recommened GVN Foundation. As I was researching about them I found the Be the Change program in Costa Rica. I've enrolled the program and had a very interesting and inspiring week among people from all over.
This mix of cultures and experiences is so rich and enlighting... I really recommend the programm to the ones that want to get inspired and oriented by people with knowledge and good heart. And if you have already your idea in mind it is ever more useful. You can have a huge help and counseling in whatever your objective is. A real nice program lectured by real experienced and nice people

Default avatar
Lily
Female
45 years old
Beijing

Inspiring people in real life, not movies.

9/10

Throughout the BTC program, we're introduced to inspiring people who have gone all the way to realize their ideas and make the world a better place. They are all different. Their ideas are different. What is the same about them, is that they are all very genuine. They are all visionary doers.

Among them is Alonso who has become curious about what's happened to the trash that we generated everyday, and he started following the rubbish truck. He wasn't happy with what he saw. And took a bold move to petition to the top management of bottled drinks companies. Eventually got one of them to replace plastic bottle with glass bottle.

It is amazing to hear from the person himself, not from a video. We get to ask questions and discuss. It makes me believe that our small and premature idea may just be possible.

How can this program be improved?

For people who want to start in the non-commercial sector but haven't really done anything, often feel lost because there're so many institutions, we don't know who is more credible. If there is a session to introduce some international organization/ network that are trust-worthy in the area of interests, that would be very helpful.

Default avatar
Wendy
Female
32 years old
Brisbane Australia

Fantastic week with a fabulous bunch

9/10

Colin, Catie and Cat facilitated a fantastic week with a variety of persons from a variety of stages in life. There was plenty of time to help one focus, reflect, brainstorm and just tall out ideas, plans and dreams. Even if not know what you're looking to do come and they will broaden your ideas and horizons. For me it gave meore clarity and focus for the coming year.

How can this program be improved?

More time to do the pre/recommended book.

Default avatar
Norma
Female
75 years old
Palo Alto, California
University of California- Berkeley

Worth the Effort, Time and Cost

9/10

Meeting the leaders and learning about their accomplishments was inspiring. Add to that meeting the conference attendees who really want to contribute positively toward improving the lives of others who are struggling and/or to implement programs to decrease harming the environment or wasting resources. Time went by quickly as we learned and enjoyed each other's company.

Only after I was home and able to look back at the conference that I realized we learned so much useful information, while forming strong bonds with everyone. There was a lot of interaction among the attendees. Another aspect that I appreciated was being exposed to a few issues that Costa Rica was experiencing. I should also mention that we ate healthy, tasty, and lovingly prepared meals.

Default avatar
Sue
Female
58 years old
Christchurch, New Zealand
Victoria University of Wellington

Just Do It !

9/10

I have just completed the Be The Change course in Taupo it was awesome. The group was quite different in age and in direction, but it worked and there was a great synergy. By the end of the week I could see how each one of us had something different to offer and in the field this would have been quite dynamic and made a real difference.
Believe in yourself! Be the Change !

How can this program be improved?

More Guest Speakers from the field with examples and stories we could learn from .

Default avatar
Alice
Female
31 years old
Boston, MA
Simmons College

Trusting the Process

10/10

Earlier this spring, I felt as though I had hit a wall in my career. I was burnt out and being a classroom teacher wasn’t as fulfilling anymore. Whether it was the mid spring slump or the seven year slump, I knew I needed to make a change. I loved teaching too much to become unhappy and I was not ready to begin to neither despise it nor quit. Subsequently, I decided to take a leave of absence from teaching to explore my dreams and my passions.
Be The Change Costa Rica reminded me why I had loved teaching so much in the first place. It brought me back to my roots and challenged me every step of the way to uncover my passion: to effectively change educational policy where young leader learn to become change makers in our society by providing them with historical knowledge and thus empowering the youth to become effective citizens of the world. BTC mentally and emotionally challenged us as individuals to think critically about ourselves, our projects and provided us with tools to help us take our dreams and make them realities.
In the past three months, I have worked extensively with the Global Volunteer Network and my life has been a whirlwind of change. My skills as a history teacher were sought out and I was invited to travel with the GVN team to Sydney, Australia and co-develop the leadership and entrepreneurial conference for 60 youth, ages 15-19. I personally developed and led workshops on white privilege and anti-racist training. Through BTC, I was also asked to help another participant help design an English teaching program in Dansai, Thailand. I traveled to Thailand where I actively recruited members of the community to participate in our program. I have never been so exhausted and fulfilled in my life. The idea of continuing down this path of work truly inspires me as an educator and as a citizen.

Default avatar
Eden
Female
20 years old
Auckland, New Zealand
University of Otago

Be The Change; inspiring, motivating and supportive

9/10

As I am only 18, going to BTC felt like a real leap of faith - I knew that I would be sharing my ideas and working with accomplished individuals from all over the world, with different cultural and professional backgrounds. Fortunately, my experience at BTC was all the better for this diversity, and my youth proved not to be a hindrance but a strength of mine. I had not recognized the value of acting as a springboard for a fresh perspective on the topics discussed by the BTC participants - all of whom were really respectful and constructive in their feedback. For me, my personal 'project' was, well, myself! (As I did not have a set direction in mind). BTC not only exposed me to a plethora of new interests and relationships - the supportive and dynamic environment gave me a sense of confidence in myself and my ability to achieve my goals. I feel that BTC really streamlined my direction in terms of self-development. I'd recommend Be The Change to anyone looking for a new experience and guidance in regard to how you can create positive social change in your life.

How can this program be improved?

Personally I would've really enjoyed a language immersion aspect as I really think that that would've added a new dimension to the conference as a whole, but being an NZer, that obviously wasn't going to be part of my experience in English-speaking Taupo! :)

Aside from that I thought it was pretty much top-notch. Perhaps if there had been more sort of guided engagement with your project of choice? For example I really really enjoyed the TOC models and in retrospect I wished there had been more of those sorts of workshops towards the end, because it really forced me to define and establish concrete goals, and transformed my perception of the process of reaching a goal or outcome.

Default avatar
Jann
Male
57 years old
Crossville, Tennessee

Do NOT use Global Volunteer Network

1/10

I assistant taught for 4 weeks at a middle school in Soweto, South Africa. Global Volunteer Network (GVN) arranged for the housing for me while I volunteered. ZOTE was the local organization that oversaw my stay. My money was stolen from my bedroom. GVN has not stopped placing volunteers in that house or stopped using ZOTE as I suggested. If you volunteer with GVN and ZOTE, lock your bedroom door.

Response on June 9, 2015:

Miriam (GVN),

You're right, I talked to Colin, GVN Founder. He reinforced what you mentioned, that the house I stayed has not been used since I left, and there are no plans to use it. He also said he would be visiting South Africa in August and ZOTE would be evaluated after that.

Colin and I agree that volunteering in South Africa is a great idea. The school I volunteered at welcomed me warmly and appreciated my help. The people in my community, Soweto, were wonderful. Many of them helped me in various ways. The children were especially interested in talking to me and learning who I am. As a bonus, the country is beautiful as I found out in 2 weeks of sightseeing. The scenery, and more importantly, the people were wonderful.

I recommend everyone consider volunteering in South Africa.

All the best,

Jann

Response from Bamboo

Hi Jann,

We’re always sad to hear when something negative happens to affect a volunteer’s placement with us. I understand you will be speaking with Colin (Founder) over the phone. Just to let you know, we haven’t placed any further volunteers with this family since your stay.

Thanks,
Miriam (GVN)

Default avatar
Ruth
Female
24 years old
Belgium
Other

Brazil Teaching Program

9/10

I volunteered on the GVN Brazil Program this September and it was by far the most rewarding, eye opening and heartwarming experience I've ever had. GVN supported me before, during and after my trip and is always there to answer any questions you may have.

During my stay in Rocinha, I was working and living with wonderful volunteers from all over the world in a shared apartment. I did the Teaching Program, so I got to teach smart and enthusiastic kids every afternoon, as well as equally amazing adults some days of the week. At night we got to do some locals classes which was a lot of fun as well, I've never met more welcoming and friendly people than the ones in Rocinha!

The children running up to you yelling "Teacher!", grabbing your hands and hugging you, will put a smile on your face every single day. The lessons are great because the kids are genuinely happy to be there and eager to learn, especially when you put in the effort to make everything interesting for them (singing songs, playing games, reading stories, letting them act things out and draw, asking people to come up front to point things out etc.).

Arriving in a favela by yourself is daunting of course, especially when you don't speak Portuguese. All I can say is that it's SO worth it to jump in head first and go for it, you will not regret it. Sure, it won't always be easy but that just makes you a stronger, more independent person. The people you meet, the experiences you have, the things you visit in Rio will stay with you forever. My main advice: come with an open mind and stay as long as you can!! I was only there for a couple of weeks and I so wish I could've stayed longer.

Thanks to GVN and the local Brazil Program, I can't wait to come back some day!!

How can this program be improved?

It is not always very organised, though this is very understandable as the program is located in a Brazilian favela. Come with an open mind and don't expect too much, just take in the favela life and rhythm :).

Default avatar
JoAnne
Female
57 years old
Ammon, Idaho
Brigham Young University

GVN's Be the Change in Taupo

10/10

I attended Be the Change in Taupo, New Zealand in November, 2013. It was my first venture into the volunteer abroad arena and was an ideal venue for me to get information and interract with experienced volunteers. The week was life-changing for me.
GVN staff picked me up at my hotel as arranged through e-mail. There were 9 of us there as participants and 6 GVN staff. We lived as family in 2 houses with both staff and participants intermixed, which was a bonding experience. We shared cooking and cleaning responsibilities. I loved this format, finding that volunteers are an adaptable and thoroughly interesting group to live with for a week. We were a diverse group, ranging in age from 20 to 67, of varying ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds. At the end of the week, I considered them all friends.
The purpose of this workshop was to both inform and motivate volunteers to pursue our own charitable projects at either a local or international level, or to feel confident in participating in existing projects. I came away both informed and motivated. I was most impressed with GVN staff's enthusiasm and dedication to their work.
Having previously attended both business and horse training workshops, I had a vlue comparison. Be the Chage delivered what I considered to be a good product for the price.
I have no criticism for the Be the Change program. When I fail to find anything to criticize, I tend to be generous with my ratings. I will be going to Uganda in June as a follow-on to investigate how GVN distributes money they raise through participating in the global Eat So They Can fundraising campaign.

How can this program be improved?

I do not have the expertise to suggest changes to this program. I consider it a unique training and idea exchange venue.

Default avatar
Eve
Female
42 years old
N/a
RMIT

Life changing!

10/10

Working with Volunteer Service in Nepal (VSN) through GVN was nothing but a positive experience for me.

The people I met through the program (VSN staff, fellow volunteers, host family and of course, the children!) had the most impact on my life, not to mention the beautiful scenery in Nepal.

At the time I was in the program VSN was taking over guardianship of the SSCH kids. I saw these children in the non VSN home they were in during my placement as a volunteer, which could only be described as appalling and then, when having the privilege of returning to Nepal the following year as Volunteer Coordinator, saw the undeniable impact VSN was having on those children's health, happiness and wellbeing.

I had gone into the program initially, as a volunteer, with my eyes open and admittedly with scepticism but came out the other side with nothing but respect and admiration for the amazing work VSN was doing in changing, for the better, the lives of the children within their care..

VSN's pragmatic and appropriate methods of maintaining the Nepali culture within their homes set them apart from some of the other NGOs I visited whilst I was in Kathmandu. I respected the ethos and values VSN was trying to uphold, keeping the children close to their traditions (without bringing in Western ideals) but also trying to improve their social standing and way of life through good nutrition, health and education.

There was no question that I would continue my support of VSN following my departure from Nepal, which I have done along with other fellow Aussie volunteers back in Australia through ongoing fundraising efforts over the past 7 years.

Some of us have also been back to visit the children over the years and continue to be astounded with the children's happiness and wellbeing since coming into VSN's care.

How can this program be improved?

If only VSN could support more children than what they do currently, so more kids receive the opportunity of a better future!

Default avatar
Andrea
Female
24 years old
N/A
Other

Be The Change was inspiring

10/10

I went into this adventure without really knowing what was going to come out of it. It's hard to explain, but meeting a group of people with different dreams and projects is really inspiring and mind-opening.
Along the program and even now that its over, i feel like i have my GVN family for life supporting me in every step of my way towards fulfilling my vision.

It gave me the confidence to believe that i could make a change and that i was not alone in this task.

I can tell that GVN members are people who are deeply committed to make the world a better place. They are incredibly humble, which i loved.

I think is important to be open to learn, not only from every session but also from the different encounters you make along the way.
The greater learning is not "in the lines", but in- between.
I feel so blessed for been able to have had this experience, it was unforgettable.

Default avatar
Teru
Male
32 years old
Wellington, NZ

BTC 2013

9/10

It was an incredible experince i had with BTC crew 2013. I got to meet some amazing people from around the world with great stories. BTC has difinately put me in the right direction in making my dream come true and difinately excited to put the skills i learnt to use.

One thing i love about the course is how everyone can have an input into your idea and how you can feed off other people energy. The amount of motivation you get is fantastic and skills i have learnt has will difinately make my idea/dream so close in making it a reality.

Bring on 2014!!

Default avatar
Skye
Female
42 years old
Pittsburgh, PA
Boston University

Amazing experience

10/10

I originally volunteered in Nepal for 5 months in 2008, but have been lucky enough to make 2 more volunteer trips back over the past few years. It's hard to put into words what an amazing experience I have had working with Global Volunteer Network and VSN (the local organization in Nepal)! I highly recommend this program!

I volunteered at Shining Stars Children's Home (SSCH) and have had the great joy of watching these children blossom in the care of VSN! Not long before my first volunteer trip to Nepal, VSN rescued these children from homes where they were severely mistreated and malnourished. I don't want to imagine what would have become of these kids had VSN not stepped in and taken custody of them. Now, thanks to VSN providing them with good nutrition, safe housing, schooling, and, of course, lots of love, these kids are thriving! I'm so honored to have been able to witness a small part of their transformation!

VSN also does a great job at keeping the kids in touch with their cultural roots. I've celebrated several holidays in Nepal and have enjoyed how the folks at VSN make sure the kids experience those holidays in traditional Nepali style, while still giving the kids plenty of treats to make holidays truly special.

I also have to mention the warm hospitality of the host families I have stayed with. While recognizing that the Nepali culture may be very different from mine (American), they have always been so great at making me feel like part of their families.

Overall the experience I've had working with GVN and VSN has been phenomenal! From my first trip, when I had never been to Nepal before, to my subsequent visits, they've always made the process so easy! I highly recommend this program to anyone looking to volunteer with a bunch of smart, funny, energetic, and loving kids! And the organization responsible for making them that way!

How can this program be improved?

I wish the cost of the flight from the US wasn't so expensive so I could go back to Nepal more often!

Default avatar
Steve
Male
42 years old
Auckland New Zealand

A life enriching experience

9/10

I originally volunteered to spend 5 weeks in Nepal back in 2007 and have subsequently been back 3 times since then. The programme was of an exceptionally high quality ensuring volunteers were given a comprehensive induction into the Nepali culture and the expectations of the program.
The conditions of the boys I looked after were extremely basic given they were in a non GVN/VSN home. I was able, with considerable effort from the local partner VSN, to move 6 of the boys into the care of VSN and their two homes Shining Stars and Brighter Futures. Since then the health and education of the boys has improved significantly. I have seen dramatic improvements to their diet and the respect and care they are given at the volunteer placement run homes. Their nutritional intake has improved dramatically with twice daily meals supplemented by home grown vegetables and eggs from their chickens. The organisation of the homes is commendable with conscientious effort from Nepali managers and cooks. In short, the program delivers clear and measurable results and dozens of happy, healthy children!

I have no hesitation in recommending both GVN and VSN (their local partner in Nepal) having seen their work up close, first hand on four trips in the last 6 years. If looking to volunteer the professionalism of both companies is beyond reproach providing volunteers with significant preparatory information before the placement, thorough cultural inductions once in the country and regular support throughout the placement itself. The performance at schools and college and in the athletic pursuits of the children demonstrate the success of the programs GVN run in Nepal.

How can this program be improved?

Creation of opportunities beyond college so they can remain members of the GVN/VSN family and have support finding their first job.

Default avatar
Anne
Female
57 years old
United Kingdom
University of British Columbia

Mixed Blessings

6/10

I volunteered at a children's home in a village that lies in the Kathmandu Valley. I was there for the months of October and November. 24 children ages 10 years to 18 years reside in the home. The children and the house manager speak English. The children are a delight and their functioning speaks to the high level of care delivered to them over the many years they've been in the care of the charity. . I keep a travel blog. My entries about Nepal describes the activities I undertook with the children and other aspects of my stay can be found there --. annewlindsay.com TRAVEL DIARIES. I use the opportunity this site provides for a review of Global Volunteer Network.

The most unfortunate part of my experience was with the administrators of the children's home both westerners who now live in Kathmandu. The stated role of one of these staff was to provide 'volunteer support' and the stated role of the other was 'fund-raising'. Both visited the home and provided a case-management service for the children. I won't go into much detail about this other than to say that during my stay, I, and another volunteer questioned, not only the level of volunteer support delivered, but also how well the children's basic needs -- ie for food and clothing, supplies for hygiene, medical care, were met. My fellow volunteer, a forth year medical student, photographed the children's height and weight charts also their footwear (because of the state of disrepair). My attempt to communicate my concerns to one of the Nepal based staff was brushed off. Upon my return to Scotland I took up the concern with GVN. Three months later I await a response that leaves me feeling reassured that the standard of basic care provided to the children has improved or will improve. (I'm speaking of basic, basic, basic -- eg more lentils, more eggs, maybe feminine hygiene products for some of the girls). Through my church I was able to bring on board a nurse/academic and a pediatrician, both with substantial experience in foreign aid work and with the effects of poor nutrition on the growth and development of children. More recently a dietitian has joined with us in an effort to help GVN understand the issues, and the importance of taking this kind of feedback seriously. I feel sad that the hours spent analyzing the data (professional people volunteering hours of time) has not been suitably acknowledged by GVN, indeed I regret to say that the GVN staff respond with some defensiveness. I fear our concerns will be brushed under the rug.

I paid a large volunteer program fee to GVN believing that my money would help impoverished children and local communities. It saddens me that this apparently is not so. I still don't know how volunteer program fees are put to use.

I'm not prepared to write GVN off at this point. I'm hoping (three months into the process!) that our concerns for the children's well-being will be addressed sooner rather than later.

I do not wish to discourage people from volunteering. I found the work with the children and the staff at the home enormously rewarding and I loved being in Nepal and experiencing life in the village.

Response from Bamboo

We’re saddened to see this review appear while we are still in discussions with you and while we are following due processes in regards to your concerns. We hoped you understood why it’s important to be diligent in our follow up to ensure that all concerns are valid and what this might mean moving forward – this means working with our partner organization in Nepal, as well as yourself.

We acknowledge the time that this process has taken, but given the gravity of the concerns you raised, we need to make a full investigation – and also to allow time for you and your health-related contacts to compile the information you wished to present.

We’re also sad that you are disinterested in reading the information presented by our partner organization as part of our formal report – this information clarifies a lot of misunderstandings that were outlined in your review and our email correspondence.

From private correspondence, we have come to realise that there is some confusion between three legally separate entities – GVN (registered charity in NZ that specialises in volunteer placements), GVN Foundation (tax exempt 501(c)(3) in the US which specialises solely in fundraising and grant distribution and does not involve the volunteering/program fee side of things) and our partner organization in Nepal. If you’d like further clarification as to what entity is responsible for what aspects, how they work together and how each is funded, please feel free to email us for this information or take a look at the “About Us” style pages on each of the respective websites, as it’s a lot to break down in this post.

Program fee breakdowns are provided to all volunteers after they are accepted and prior to making any obligation or commitment to the program – this is done in the interest of transparency, and I can confirm that this information was included in your Program Guide upon acceptance into the Nepal Program. Please see this information for more detail.

We have no concerns about how the Nepal administrators use funds as these have been independently audited by the Nepali authorities that oversee locally registered non-profits, and they have passed with “flying colours” every time. This is a regular, rigid, and state-mandated review, and covers all the aspects of fiscal and organization management that we deem important for transparency and accountability. Our own reviews across the years of financial information has never raised any issues or causes for concern either.

Just to add to this, GVN and GVN Foundation are also both independently audited by the relevant authorities and have also been found to meet necessary requirements for non-profits in each respective country, and in confirming that our work and funds spent meet our mission statements.

In regards to your concerns about child nutrition, we have come to understand that the data you have based your information on is height/weight charts found at the Children’s Home. This is not the most up to date information – this is stored at the partner organization office for privacy reasons, the same as at most doctor’s offices. Taking into account the children’s medical history is also really important – these children had a rough start in life and the nutrition they received during their formative years was definitely sub-par (ie. prior to coming to the care of SSCH).

As per the World Bank’s reports on child nutrition, poor nutrition during the first 8 years of life significantly impacts, and can even stunt, a child’s growth for the rest of its’ life. Part of the information that our partner is providing for us in response is the most recent medical information from registered health professionals in Nepal who have worked with these kids for a significant portion of their life since coming to Shining Stars. There is also medical records provided from the three health professionals who have most recently worked with the kids directly, as well as information from a past volunteer (registered nurse) who knew and worked with the children before their time in SSCH and since – it provides a very insightful understanding to how these children have grown and developed since living at SSCH, and we’re disappointed to hear you’re not interested in hearing this ‘side of the story’.

The children are fed a Nepali diet (although, 2 meals + 2 kajja a day is above what an average Nepali might have). The meals that they are given are the standard fare of Nepal – large amounts of rice, daal and vegetable curry – what all bar the wealthiest families eat twice a day, every day. On top of this, monthly funding is available for meat, eggs, fruit and milk – items deemed luxuries in Nepal and usually only consumed by your average Nepali on festival days or at weddings.

Your review states “even with this kind of evidence, their tack is to start a dialogue with the Nepali partners to give them a chance to tell their side of the story”. In the same way that you would not expect an organization to believe information presented by our partners at face value, we need to allow the same right to our partners as well in light of your (potentially very damaging) concerns. Without this open dialogue with our partners, we would not have the information above in regards to nutrition prior to SSCH, health records, etc.

We’re happy to continue discussions with you (our most recent email correspondence was less than 24 hours ago) and work on this progress together, but we are concerned that prematurely posting this information, without all the facts, may have an impact on our ability to continue supporting these children. At the heart of what you, GVN, and our partner organization in Nepal want, is the welfare and future of these children.

- Fiona GVN

Default avatar
MahaB
Female
32 years old
New York City
Other

Simply Life Changing

10/10

My volunteering experience in Ecuador was simply PERFECT. I spent four weeks on the Amazon station and two weeks on the San Cristobal, Galapagos station. The whole process was smooth, safe and comforting. The amazon station is beautiful, the volunteer cabins are double cabins with basic beds and amenities and they are surprisingly very comfortable, you fall asleep every night to the sounds of the rain forest creatures. The work is amazing and so fulfilling, Monday mornings consisted of five hour hikes in primary and secondary forests, some of them were medicinal hikes (learning about the different plants and trees and their benefits), other were bird watching hikes or just informational hikes about the forest. The afternoons were always spent in the botanical garden that belongs to Jatun Sasha, planting seeds, cutting down invasive plants, replanting endemic plants, raking leaves, learning about the different plants and their benefits in the classroom, building bridges, collecting fruits and vegetables in the organic garden and planting new ones, the botanical and organic gardens are huge forests on their own. Simply surreal.
Wednesday afternoons were social afternoons, we would walk through he forest to reach a huge clearing where the river napo would greet us, we would swim, play soccer relax and then head to town in Tena for a fun night out. The work is hard and tedious at times but extremely fulfilling. Breakfast was served at 6:30, lunch at noon and dinner at 6. Work hours: 7:30 to 11:30, 1:30 to 3:30. Hammock time after a cold well deserved shower was the best thing ever, the food is simple but satisfying and the cooks are wonderful jolly people who become your friends. Weekends were amazing, there is no shortage of things to do, from rafting trips, to 3 days in banos town, to visits to the indigenous communities and waterfalls, simply amazing!! I was so sad to leave the amazon it was the most fulfilling, fun, rewarding time of my life, I cannot wait to go back.
The volunteering in the galapagos was just as amazing. The reserve is different, it's a 40 min cab ride from the san cristobal airport and you reach this gorgeous isolated reserve, the volunteers are either housed in the new house or old house, and share rooms with 1 to 5 people. The morring view is simply gorgeous, the balcony looks onto the ocean in the horizon, pure bliss. The work hours were similar to the amazon except the volunteers are expected to help in the kitchen for either the morning, afternoon or dinner shift, which is actually very fun if you like to cook or just want to learn (like me! i learned knife skills...). The work involves a lot of machete and hand work, it's tough at time but simply amazing. Tuesday and thursday afternoons consist of a trip to the Gualapaguera, a gorgeous tortoise reserve where you get to see huge turtles in their habitat, help maintain the reserve and work in the nearby greenhouse planting coffee and chocolate, SO MUCH FUN. Friday mornings consisted of hikes or wonderful trips to beaches where you tan next to sea lions and blue footed boobies, what a dream! Most weekend are spent outside of the reserve in San Cristobal town where you can go eat drink and island hop to all the nearby islands, which is simply surreal. The staff and coordinators on both the reserves are so caring, friendly and wonderful people who watch over you day and night and respect your needs and likes. GVN was wonderful at facilitating my entry into this program and I could not recommend going to Ecuador enough, it will change your life forever!

How can this program be improved?

More veggies and protein in the food served

Default avatar
Amy
Female
32 years old
Wellington
Memorial University of Newfoundland

Kili

10/10

I highly recommend the kili trek! It was an amazing experience and a great physical challenge to overcome

Visiting kibera and the orphanages was a very emotional and eye opening experience. It was a good feeling seeing exactly where and how the funds raised would benefit the communities

The GVN group did a great job helping ensure I was prepared for the trek and fellow Trekkers offered great support, helping each other make it to summit!

I have made some forever friends through GVN and am excited to participate in another GVN project in the future!

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Lori
Female
42 years old
Musquodoit Harbour, Nova Scotia

An Adventure of a Lifetime!

10/10

GVN's Mt. Kilimanjaro Fundraising Trek was without a doubt, an Adventure of a lifetime! I did the trek in 2010; and, then the Machu Picchu Trek in 2011. I am currently training for the South Africa Cycle Challenge. GVN does an amazing job at offering a Physical challenge with a reason: to help people! I know that you will never regret a decision to take on any of GVN's fundraising opportunities. You will never regret it; and, you will never forget it!

How can this program be improved?

I was surprised that I got altitude sickness; and, did not even bring medication for it! Perhaps, it would be good to outline how probable it is for some of the people in the group to get altitude sickness.

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Ruth
Female
42 years old
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Victoria University of Wellington

A Well Organized and Amazing Adventure

9/10

Our program began with meeting in Nairobi with a collection of inspiring and motivated people from around the world, who had all worked hard to fund raise and train for this trip. Meeting these people was one of the great benefits of the trip.
Our accommodation and food was excellent, and we were transported by bus all together to the mountain, and to the organizations we visited afterwards. There was no stress in having to organize these things individually.
The guides and porters who took our group up the mountain were professional and attentive to us. They spoke English well, and not only made sure that we were safe and well, but were also ready to tell us about the changing scenery and wildlife on the six days we spent ascending and descending Kilimanjaro. Between them they cooked our meals, put up tents, carried most of our gear, and even warmed up water for us to wash when we got to our evening campsites!
The mountain was amazing. I can't describe it well enough - you have to see it.
The walk up was taken extremely slowly, in order to reduce altitude sickness, and was not steep until the last day. As a result most climbers in the group made it to the top.
After climbing Kilimanjaro we were taken to visit a clinic at Kibera, and also to various children's' homes to hear from those who ran them what the needs were, and where the money we had raised would be going. It also showed us what more needed to be done, and gave food for thought about how to contribute further.
I felt well looked after while with the group, and much safer than the few days I spent after the trip making my way around Nairobi without them. I had an amazing time!

How can this program be improved?

I felt uncomfortable sometimes with the contrast between the high standard of hospitality we received at the hotels and throughout the trip, and the lack of comforts that so many around us had. I think this is inevitable, and I'm not sure what could be done to change this.

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Amisha
Female
42 years old
wellington
Victoria University of Wellington

Uganda Distribution Trip 2013

10/10

The one week distribution trip to Uganda was packed with excitement, inspiring people and whole lot of fun with similar minded people.

We visited three local projects funded by GVN's Eat So They Can campaign. It was very cool meeting the local people invested in their community projects. The greatest impact for me was when we met the women of Kitoola. As soon as we got off the bus they were dancing, singing and giving us great big hugs and just full of smiles. These women received cows from the ESTC campaign, and the reception we got made me understand the value of the cows to these women. Their gratitude was written all over their faces.

The accommodation and living conditions were standard and comfortable. The trip was really well organised, GVN and their local partner organization did a fantastic job. I felt comfortable and safe within a trusted group of strangers.

I would recommend this trip to anyone.

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Andrea
Female
57 years old
New Haven, CT
Smith College

The Perfect Program at the Perfect Time!

10/10

If you've got a great idea for a worthwhile project, but you don't know what your next step should be, this is the program for you! At "Be The Change," you are taught effective ways to get your message across and gather support for your project -- and at the same time you get to meet wonderful people, all with great ideas of their own. I attended the program in Tuscany, and not only was the company superb -- there were fabulous meals served in a beautiful setting in the Tuscan hills outside of Florence. I came away from the meeting with inspiration and a plan which is now bearing fruit -- and, most important, with so many new supportive friends, all of whom are dear to me to this day!

How can this program be improved?

I'd like to be able to have the group reconvene a set time after our original meeting, to touch base and recharge!

Response from Bamboo

Thanks for your feedback - we hope that participants can connect with each other through our GVN Alumni forum, as not all participants can commit to a second meet up.

Colin and the facilitators are always happy to sound out ideas and plans with our former BTC alum, so if you're looking for renewed inspiration or guidance, just get in contact!

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Adam
Male
32 years old
Gig Harbor, Washington USA

You, ANYONE, really can Be The Change.

10/10

From the very beginning, my communications and concerns with the facilitators via email, from questions about the program itself, to finance and travel information, were handled promptly, efficiently and in a very warm and friendly manner, and this treatment carried well into the program and beyond. I was given a truly welcome and open environment to explore what was important to me, what change I wanted to see in the world, with constant feedback that was critical and constructive, understanding and encouraging.
Upon arriving, while I felt like I was partly on vacation, because of how removed I was from my day to day life, the Be The Change staff was quick to rein in the focus, still providing a wonderful and relaxing environment, but also emphasizing a definite plan and curriculum. They asked us to trust in their plan and they made it wonderfully easy to do so. For the next 6 days, we made time for work, developing our own plans of change and really diving into the core of what we wanted out of the program and how we should best approach our own personal goals, from the general to the more specific. I always felt included in the teachings, like they were fine tuned for me as much as anyone else.
The evenings were for relaxation and recreation, from small hikes to wonderful meals cooked in groups, creating a comfortable environment where we could take the needed time to let the workshops really sink in so as not to feel overwhelmed, and to be honest, the program was at times overwhelming, but never in a negative way. If I was ever overwhelmed, it was at the realizations of my own potential. That a simple, everyday kind of normal guy like me has what it takes to start something bigger than myself and make a change I want to see. To be surrounded by so many like minded people, all of whom are now friends, made it so much easier, the experience was very humbling. Real people making real change, it's that simple, and the Be The Change program and staff helped me build the skills, focus and confidence to BE one of those real people, for real change.
If it sounds like I'm gushing, it's because, well, I am. I have nothing but praise for a program that took a guy like me, struggling with a vision, and helped guide me into someone with a plan, who KNOWS he can make a difference. While I can't speak for everyone, I can say confidently that the Be The Change Program has been, and likely will be, one of the defining experiences of my life, I couldn't be more thankful, and if anyone is looking into the world of creating change, regardless of scope or direction, I couldn't recommend this program enough, it was simply amazing.

How can this program be improved?

My only criticism, and not a complaint, would be that with the introduction of video recordings, maybe film participants in the program at an early stage when they are often unsure of their focus, and then film them at the end, so they can see how completely different they have become, how much more focused and driven. It blows me away to think of who I was going into the program, and who I am now, having come out, and I think it could be a useful motivational tool for the individual participants to see that look in their eyes. Again, just a suggestion, not a complaint, as I think the program was handled wonderfully.

Response from Bamboo

Thanks for your feedback! We love the idea of having an "entry" and "exit" interview, so participants can see how far they've come in just a week! We'll look into how we can make this work for our upcoming conferences in Taupo (2013/2014).

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Ashton
Male
24 years old
Hamilton New Zealand

Kenya

9/10

The best thing about this program is feeling part of the community and getting to help and interact with very appreciative students and teachers. Kenya is an awesome place to be. The only difficulties I faced were trivial things like language barriers, power cuts and getting lost in the city. But these are all things to be expected when travelling and just adds to the challenge and experience.

How can this program be improved?

Possibly more information on what you are required to teach so preparation can be more specific. However I know this is difficult as each placement at different times has different needs

Response from Bamboo

Thanks for your feedback! We aim to get as much information as possible to volunteers beforehand, but as you mentioned, it can be tricky when things change quickly in these communities.

The feedback you've provided us with (in your feedback form to GVN) will be useful in helping us prep incoming volunteers to the same project - thanks so much.

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Phil
Male
42 years old
London

Ecuador - 2 months in the Jungle

9/10

I undertook a six week volunteer programme with GVN to work on a forest reserve in Ecuador as a career break. The whole experience was incredible, the work at times was tough (hot and humid) but is invaluable to the region. I learnt an incredible amount about the forest and the local community. The work was mainly in the botanical garden planting, seeding, composting and ground clearance. The most rewarding part was watching the growth of seedlings of endangered trees that we had planted. I lived in the research station and as well as learning alot of Spanish I also learnt alot about the community and the rain forest itself (the guided walks were an eperience in the themselves as we visited areas of forest you would never see as a tourist) We also had time at weekend to visit local towns and after my six weeks i spent tow further wwkes in Ecuador which is a beautiful and amazing country with very friendly people. The support i initially received from GVN was brilliant as i had to postpone my trip for a few weeks and their groundwork was excellent.

How can this program be improved?

It would be difficult to change any one element of the program, maybe some bicycles so that we could cycle to the garden rather thatn the 1 mile walk!

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Uma
Female
19 years old
Atsugi, Japan

A Gateway to Life

10/10

The Peru Distribution Trip taught me that there are a lot of people beyond our horizons that needs our help. It also taught me that it is important in life to be compassionate, hold hands with one another and help. As humans, it is our responsibility to make one another feel comfortable and loved in our home planet.
Our project in Pampallacta affected me the most. My heart melted seeing the delight in the children's faces when we gave them pan, or bread. I loved blowing bubbles to the children, which gave smiles in their faces. When I was in Pampallacta, that's where I found my purpose in life- to live a good life so I can share how beautiful life is to others. THe Peru Distribution Trip is life changing. It taught me that the greatest thing in life is to share. Share smiles, share stories, and most of all, share love and compassion to others. The Peru Distribution Trip is a trip where I found the meaning of life.

How can this program be improved?

I think that our time in each trips should be longer so we can do more projects in each place.

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Abdulrahman
Male
32 years old
Dubai, UAE
American University

Wonderful Experiance

10/10

its a life time trip that would really make you think how you look at the world. It is a mix of fun, education and meeting such a lovely same minded people that you will keep in contact with forever. If you are into volunteering then it is a must. GVN team are very helpful and they will be with you step by step till you reach them and then send you back home. Discussions are wonderful and you really learn a lot. You feel so comfortable that you really feel home and feel great to share all your ideas and thoughts.

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Jyoti
Female
32 years old
Helsinki, Finland
Other

Just do it!

10/10

A milestone in my life!
BTC 2011 in Tuscany, Italy was the best experience ever in my life. I love everything about it; facilitators, activities, participants, location and food.

How can this program be improved?

Stories from real life experience.

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Daniela
Female
42 years old
Peru
Other

Inspiring experience

9/10

The volunteer trips I have made with GVN, specially with the Eat So They Can program, have been encouraging, inspiring, eye opening and the most fun time, all with good and bright people. It is amazing to see the progress of the programs throughout the years. I got involved with GVN in 2010 and have seen the big impact on Peruvian communities first hand in only 3 years. The amount of love that there is between the organizers, the local people and the volunteers is great. It is clearly all done with specific objectives in mind for real sustainable progress. The ESTC program and volunteer trip in Peru was even more special to me because I found an honest outlet for me to help my own home country.

How can this program be improved?

I think the only feedback I could give is to do more trips, more projects in different places...

About The Provider

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Bamboo is the next step in independent volunteering and adventure travel.

We're dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what responsible tourism is all about. Our dedicated team, consisting of the perfect mix of international travellers and passionate locals, know exactly how to ensure that both

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