Bamboo Alumni

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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.

Questions & Answers


9.32 Rating
based on 47 reviews
  • Impact 8.9
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 8.4
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 9 - 16 of 47
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Do NOT use Global Volunteer Network

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,


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.

Miriam (GVN)

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Brazil Teaching Program

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!!

What would you improve about this program?
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
Yes, I recommend this program

GVN's Be the Change in Taupo

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.

What would you improve about this program?
I do not have the expertise to suggest changes to this program. I consider it a unique training and idea exchange venue.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing!

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.

What would you improve about this program?
If only VSN could support more children than what they do currently, so more kids receive the opportunity of a better future!
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Be The Change was inspiring

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
Yes, I recommend this program

BTC 2013

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
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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
Yes, I recommend this program

A life enriching experience

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.

What would you improve about this program?
Creation of opportunities beyond college so they can remain members of the GVN/VSN family and have support finding their first job.