James and Joyce were two of the most helpful people I could have hoped to have as co-ordinators.
Accommodation and hospitality far-exceeded my expectations. It was wonderful. In all honesty it was almost too much like being at home, which I would imagine is an immense compliment to the program!
Thanks for the opportunity to volunteer with your program this past June, it was truly life-altering and I am so happy that I chose IVHQ as all of the assistance I received made the entire trip amazing.
Project: Orphanage work
Date: June 2012 - 4 weeks
Volunteering through IVHQ Ghana provided me with the most inspiring and life-changing experience of my life. My mother was a bit apprehensive about sending her 20 year-old-daughter across the ocean to a new continent where I did not know a soul, but the support and preparation IVHQ provided did a lot to quell her fears. I spent 2 months living and breathing everything Ghana. The kids in the orphanage were amazing, and I can honestly say that I have made friends for a lifetime. I am from America and my best friends that I made in the volunteer house came from England. Four of us still speak on a daily basis, and it’s been almost six months since we’ve left the program! You will connect with the other volunteers on a level you could never imagine—you go through amazing times and you go through all of the frustrating times that go along with living in a new culture. But the amazing thing about IVHQ is that it connects you to other volunteers so you go through everything together. An amazing community formed in our volunteer house.
A typical day involved waking up to get the kids in the orphanage fed, bathed and ready for school. Then we had breakfast around 8 am, which included bread, Ghanaian pancakes, rice porridge, and fresh fruits on any given day. We had mornings free while most of the children were at school, and we took this time to explore the town, finish up laundry, complete chores around the house, purchase things such as medicine or school supplies for the kids, or travel to the Accra mall via tro-tro for comforts from home such as pizza and potato chips—or “crisps”, for all of those English readers out there ;) Lunch would be things like noodles, chicken and rice, beans and rice—lots of delicious traditional Ghanaian food! Then we picked the kids up from school, helped with homework and played with them until dinnertime (very similar to lunch food, but it always rotated), and then we headed back to the orphanage until 9 pm. The volunteers would then stay up and talk/get to know each other. Those were some of my favorite times—developing deep relationships with the other volunteers. It’s amazing how IVHQ connects you to these other people that start out as strangers and then turn out to be your best friends. Don’t worry about connecting with people, especially if you’re a shy person. There’s a reason why you all decided to volunteer in Ghana, and that connection will provide you with enough in common to develop deeper bonds.
Ghana is a great country for traveling as well. The volunteers went away on the weekends and we traveled via tro-tro (like a bus system). We went to so many beaches, hung out with monkeys in the jungle, walked on top of the forest canopy, swam in the biggest waterfall in Western Africa and so many other fun adventures. Travel was very convenient throughout the country. I was even lucky enough to experience a real African safari at Mole National Park, and came within feet of a wild elephant. It was AMAZING!
Though we loved to travel, it was hard leaving the kids so we didn’t travel every single weekend. I fell in love with all of those lovely children. They were honestly the best, and though it sounds incredibly cliché, they taught me more about living than I could have ever taught them. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to spend two months of my summer experiencing this amazing country and amazing people. My dorm room in college is covered in pictures and souvenirs from this summer, and not a day goes by when my heart does not ache for Ghana.
If you’re looking for a volunteer abroad program, IVHQ Ghana is the perfect choice. I spent a lot of time researching the Internet for programs, and for the amount of money you’re paying and the support you get from IVHQ staff, this is the best offer for your money. You can stay for as little as a week or up to six months. The choice is yours! I had a personal emergency on one of my nights in the volunteer house, and the IVHQ support staff immediately rushed to the volunteer house at 3 am to help me out. They were there very quickly and provided amazing guidance and support. I’m very grateful for their kindness, expertise, and concern during my time of need. IVHQ Ghana is definitely the way to go if you’re looking for a good program in which you will experience a new culture, be surrounded by loving supportive volunteers, and also have the comfort of knowing that your program staff will always be looking out for your best interest. I will definitely be back next summer. So much love for IVHQ Ghana!
Project: Orphanage Work
Date: June 2012 - 8 weeks
I loved the Nepali language classes and the tours around Kathmandu during orientation.
The experience was completely worthwhile, I had the best time ever.
I loved library house, my room, and my host family and the village.
My favorite moments were celebrating the women festival with the whole village or the wedding we were invited to. I also loved playing volleyball with the kids at my school.
Everything was just better that I could possibly expect. I fell in love with Nepal and its people, I gained a Nepali family and I made great friendships with the other volunteers. Leaving was so hard! Thank you! I am definitely going to volunteer again sometime.
Project: Teaching English
Date: September 2012 - 12 weeks
Orientation was really good it prepared me for what I needed to know about Kenya and how to handle situations along with what to expect from everything.
I think the local staff did an excellent job the staff there are amazing and caring for their volunteers and always willing to drop everything and do what they can to help with to the best of their ability.
I got to know the people so well and really form relationships and now them personally. I can see areas in which I made a difference and that the people really did care for me and loved me as a true friend.
My favorite moment was walking through the streets speaking with the people getting to know them becoming familiar with my surrounds and becoming part of the culture and part of the community.
I have really enjoyed this experience and time that I have spent in Kenya and IVHQ was what made it possible to get to my dream destination.
Project: Women's Education Program
Date: August 2012 - 12 weeks
The directors and local staff are very professional, well organized, responsive and helpful. I felt appreciated and supported every step of the way. I felt that my work there really mattered. In addition to help I received with the work Byron and Monica made sure that I was enjoying the wonderful sites and adventures that Ecuador has to offer. I have only been home for 3 days and I'm already planning my next trip to Quito.Suzanne Blackburn
Project: Teaching English
Date: November 2012 - 4 weeks
I'd always wanted to volunteer but I never thought it would be SO easy; IVHQ gives you all the info you need to get ready (vaccinations you need, what to bring, culture, how to get a fundraiser going... everything) and keep in touch by email leading up to your departure date to make sure you are prepared and answer all your questions. In country, they visit each program to make sure everyone is happy in their placements and they make themselves available 24/7 by phone call in case something comes up that you need help with. Every member of the IVHQ staff is exceedingly friendly, helpful, kind and supportive!
Our accommodations were great. We were given three (big!) meals a day and Auntie B was very sweet about making vegetarian meals for me (as well as everyone else's dietary preferences, no matter what they were). The food was great and filling, there was even instant coffee at the breakfast table every morning. I loved that the volunteer house was a quick walk to the orphanage in our program (pink program!) and that we lived among the locals, fully exposed to the culture. Everyone in Ghana is so welcoming and they love obronis (foreigners) and go out of their way to greet you or show you where to go if you're lost or joke around with you. I made some friends there who I still talk to on an almost daily basis. The kids in the orphanage are amazing and I think about them every single day, I fell so in love with all of them that it HURTS not being able to see them! I loved dancing with them and their cuddles and helping them with school work and painting their faces to look like "pussycats" and seeing them running towards me with big smiles and arms stretched way out going "SA-RAAAA" and carrying them to bed at night and racing beetles up twigs and how they find everything hilarious... I could go on and on. I loved every minute so much, even though I felt every emotion in the book while I was there. I only stayed for two weeks but I'm going back in 2013 for at least a couple months, and just about every volunteer I've talked to is planning to go back to or has gone back once or twice. If you're thinking about going to Ghana with IVHQ, all I can say is DO IT!!! The only danger is that you'll never want to leave! :)
Project: Orphanage Work
Date: September 2012 - 2 weeks
This past September my son, Jake, went to Ghana. A trip originally planned as 3 weeks turned into 5. Jake went to Ghana a little nervous and I have to admit that, as a mom, I was nervous also.
There had been a few countries he was interested in visiting but I pushed him towards Ghana because friends had visited a few years back and were in awe of how welcome they felt by the people. They described a country in which they felt safe and welcome no matter where they went. It wasn’t just the safety but the love in which they described Ghana upon their return that stuck with me.
So after looking over a few IVHQ programs, all which seem wonderful, Jake decided on Ghana as well. It just seemed to call to him. He had never been away from home before and even for a 20 year old leaving home to go to another continent alone can seem daunting.
My son fell in love with Ghana and through him; I fell in love as well. From the time he was picked up at the airport until the time he left, he felt cared for by the people of Ghana. It was an amazing experience for any young person and one I highly recommend all young people do.
The family Jake stayed with treated him wonderfully. He enjoyed going to the market with Patrick or just being at the house with the family. His time spent with the kids meant a great deal to him. They amazed him and when we spoke by phone he was incredibly impressed by children who were so happy for even the smallest things. It was an education for my son but also a chance to give of himself in a way that mattered.
The other great part of his experience was the travel he did on the weekends. My son can be a bit of a couch potato at home but in Ghana he was constantly traveling. He rented a phone there and texted me every day or called. I was always able to reach him which eased any separation anxiety I may have had. My little couch potato was now navigating the travel system in Ghana whether it was during a lunch break or a weekend away. He visited a monkey sanctuary, swam in waterfalls, walked a canopy walk, stayed in a beachfront resort, and walked around villages. It is an experience any parent would want for their kid.
The IVHQ staff was fabulous. At one point Jake called me to say he needed a phone number. He had taken a wrong turn while walking and didn’t know how to get back. First, I want to point out that he was able to call home, here in New York, while lost in Africa. I sent a message on Facebook to some former volunteers asking them what I should do and within minutes I received a message from Edward Adeli telling me that Jake was back at the orphanage. The response time was minutes, something I never would have expected from any organization. I never even had a chance to panic at the thought that my son made a wrong turn somewhere.
The support system is wonderful. I joined a group on Facebook that the volunteers all joined. I joined it as a concerned mom who wanted to be sure that this was the right organization and right country to send my son. I spent weeks talking to people who had been there and felt at ease by how many young women had traveled alone and spoke of the safety and the love of Ghana. Those same people kept in touch with me throughout his trip asking how he was enjoying it and are still in contact now that he is home. I could not ask for a better support system than that.
For any parents who are worried about safety...I won’t poo poo safety concerns but I will say that the world we live in is a big place. Things can happen anywhere including our own home towns. Everywhere my son went he was welcomed. People sought him out on the street to talk to him and offer him tips on what to do and where to go. Never once did he ever feel unsafe. He did not want to come home and it was only because the airfare change a second time was too expensive that he came home.
He is home for a month now and told me yesterday that he misses Ghana and wants to go back. I don’t know many 20 year olds that would pay for their airfare, program fees, change fees to change airfare, travel expenses, and then come home and want to do it again. That alone should tell you what a wonderful program IVHQ has in Ghana.
Project: Orphanage Work
Date: October 2012 - 5 weeks
My experience in Ghana was amazing and life changing. I loved every minute of it. I volunteered for 2 months and I want to go back for longer! The kids are so adorable and sweet! They instantly captured my heart! Along with the Ghanaian culture and the people, all so kind and helpful. It would be impossible for me to forget such an amazing experience and the people that I met along the way. I can’t wait till I go back and see the kids that I grew to love in such a short time.Morgan Seeholzer
Project: Orphanage Work
Date: February 2012 - 8 weeks
Everything in Kenya is going great. All the local are AMAZING!!! Had no problems at all, the orphanage we are at and our host family (Grace) are very welcoming and the projects that the local staff run are just awesome. We just did a 2 day Outreach to the slums here in Kenya. Was so worthwhile and again, the staff really really make sure that we are okay and answer all our calls and questions.
IVHQ and N.V.S working together is just such a perfect combination and so glad I came. You really can see the positive impact to the communities in need that they are providing. The other volunteers have been awesome too, making some good friends!
Project: Orphanage Work
Date: December 2012 - 2 weeks
The orientation that I had in Hanoi was great, they thoroughly went through everything you need to know.
I felt very appreciated and worthwhile. The Vietnamese people all seemed to be so grateful for our help. It all felt very worthwhile at the orphanage especially as the group of volunteers I was with we're very proactive about what we could do there and how we could really make a difference.
My favourite moments were taking the kids at the orphanage on a day trip to the zoo. For almost all of them it was the first time they had been outside the walls of the pagoda where their orphanage is.
It was fantastic! Now I'm keen to try out oneof the other programs.
Project: Caring for disabled Children/Orphanage Work - Hanoi*
Date: September 2012 - 4 weeks