IVHQ - International Volunteer HQ
Cape Town, South Africa, December 2010
Project applied for: Surf Outreach
Duration: 2 weeks
Cost: $620 ($220 Registration Fee / $400 Program fee including Food & Accommodation)
Project Details: Getting kids off the street, mentoring & feeding them while having fun teaching them to surf. Staying in a home-stay 30mins from Cape Town, All meals provided.
Project Change: Orphanage
Project Details: I changed projects once I found out the Surf Outreach Program was changed to staying in a hostel 2hrs from Cape Town. Orphanage project would be at a church and my home stay was with the pastor and his family.
Project completed: Kids Drop-In Centre
Duration: 3 weeks
Cost: $1040 (Fees as above / $100 accommodation fee paid directly to host family for an additional week / $140 on food / $20 travel / $160 Project supplies, food & gifts
Project Details: Playing games with kids whose parents were at work during the Christmas holidays. 3hrs a day, 4-5 days a week, for 2 weeks. First week, no children, just planning and buying supplies. That left only one week to actually be a part of the project. (A secret deal was made that I pay the host family $100 for the week to stay and finish the program). Bread and Fish sticks were the only meals provided. Public transportation to and from project/town is extra.
Overall Costs: $3296.70 ($1040 as above / $1,446.70 flight / $45 insurance / $315 vaccinations / $200 hostels / $150 food / $100 Misc
Groups Involved: IVHQ / SASTS / Host Family & Project.
IVHQ: A company with great marketing. This is the initial contact and they were exceptional. Very prompt at replies, great with details and very fair pricing, their mistake was dealing with SASTS. They had acknowledged this and I believe have dealt with it.
SASTS: Our South Africa contact. Programs, accommodation, orientation and all questions/concerns while in South Africa. I am unsure if they were new as a volunteer company or just a company trying to make a quick buck, but this is one organization I would steer clear from. From a company taking a CUT of $600 for 2 weeks - 3 years ago, to a company CHARGING $1200 for 2 weeks, something is not right. They definitely do not research the host families or projects very well. (A few girls had signed up for 6 weeks on the same 2 week project as above, SASTS was of no help and told them to deal with IVHQ) Other IVHQ volunteers that were there for the orientation, I had kept in touch with and found out that their projects with SASTS were nightmares and not what they had expected. (They did say that IVHQ had been very apologetic and helpful.)
Host Family: As this was also their project, their intentions were good, but their priorities were not. They were not straight forward with project details to SASTS and the money they received from SASTS and the volunteers was not spent wisely.
Overall Project: I absolutely adored working with the kids. There were roughly 100 kids, aged 4-16 who were not orphans but did live in some not so great conditions (many of the kids had ipods!) I taught life skills, created a talent show and played many games. We went on a field to Boulders Beach (in which some of the kids had never seen the ocean) and hung out with penguins. The hours were way too short - we left whenever the lead was too tired to work, usually about 3hrs. Sadly the kids were left to take care of themselves until the parents got home. I purchased tons of items to hand out at Christmas, including toothbrushes, school supplies and toys and was overwhelmed by tears of how thankful they were.
Overall IVHQ: I would recommend IVHQ, but check with whom they are dealing with in your projects country. Keep in mind all the additional costs that may occur. Although IVHQ is one of the cheaper organizations, you may be dealing with similar experiences. So it goes to question - is paying more for a volunteer project worth it?
When most people were planning their families, starting their career and thinking about a mortgage...my plan was to help others, even if it meant giving up all those things. Volunteering became my passion and I would always find a way to make it work. Since 2010 I've travelled the globe and have had some amazing volunteer experiences ... and a life I'm proud of.