Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

Volunteered in Kenya for 3 months with IVHQ - Blog watch

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    I returned a few weeks ago from what was supposed to be a 4 week volunteer trip to Kenya. That 4 weeks turned into 3 months as I had such an amazing time.

    I volunteered with International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) a company I've seen brought up a here a few times, often questioned over how legitimate they are due to their low costs compared to some other volunteer companies. I can tell you, they are very legit. I originally booked to go with them a couple of years ago, but had to postpone due to work and various other issues. They were absolutely fine with this, didn't need to pay the deposit again as I rebooked for within the 2 years it is valid, and they gladly reinstated my file when I was ready to go again.

    Due to the number of countries they offer placements in, they partner up with other local organisations, so experiences can vary with the partner organisations from country to country. In Kenya, the partner is Network for Voluntary Services (NVS). Before I went, I read a lot of reviews, some of which can be quite concerning. However, most of these concerning reviews must have come from the type of people who don't like to voice issues when it is relevant, only after, or people who had far too high expectations when visiting a third world country. The organisation is fantastic, most welcoming to everybody. If you have an issue, whether it be with your placement, your accommodation, your hosts, if you let them know, they will do their best to rectify it for you asap. But of course only if they are made aware of the issue.

    Anyway, whilst there I wrote a blog whenever I had time. Of course it wasn't all volunteer work I did, you still get time to do the touristy stuff too (with it being volunteer work, there is no problem taking time off from your placement to do other things). So here is a link to the blog (also a link to photos in the most recent post, if you want to skip all the reading ) http://kenyan-adventures.blogspot.co.uk/

    If anyone has any questions, about IVHQ, NVS, Kenya in general or anything about my experiences, feel free to ask
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    :rolleyes:

    I'm sure the locals benefited so much from you being there for a measly 3 months! That's hardly enough time to actually get to know anybody at a project. Although i'm sure the charity has benefited quite alot from that hefty £5000 you gave them.

    Classic voluntourism. Be honest, behind the 'i'm dedicating my time and money to help these poor guys' thoughts in the forefront of your mind, you were really thinking 'i'm so much better than everyone else, living out here, having a free holiday while offering absolutely nothing of value to these people. Can't wait to put these pictures up on facebook and brag and say how much people there changed me.'
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Laozi)
    :rolleyes:

    I'm sure the locals benefited so much from you being there for a measly 3 months! That's hardly enough time to actually get to know anybody at a project. Although i'm sure the charity has benefited quite alot from that hefty £5000 you gave them.

    Classic voluntourism. Be honest, behind the 'i'm dedicating my time and money to help these poor guys' thoughts in the forefront of your mind, you were really thinking 'i'm so much better than everyone else, living out here, having a free holiday while offering absolutely nothing of value to these people. Can't wait to put these pictures up on facebook and brag and say how much people there changed me.'
    I'm pretty sure you could get quite a lot done in 3 months.

    Giving a rural village fresh water could be done in a few days.

    A few small homes could be built.

    Toilets could be built.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by pizzle223)
    I'm pretty sure you could get quite a lot done in 3 months.

    Giving a rural village fresh water could be done in a few days.

    A few small homes could be built.

    Toilets could be built.
    If you're actually qualified to do those things, and have carried all the equipment in your backpack then maybe - you'd need a massive drill, a team of experienced builders and lots and lots of materials. Then you'll have to brief the entire village on how to make sure they don't break anything and if they do, how to fix them.

    A charity once fundraised thousands of pounds to buy tractors for a village in Africa. The people were all happy of course and for the next few weeks they were able to farm their crops with ease. However, the tractors started breaking down. The locals had no idea how to fix them because no one had bothered to tell them and no one had trained them in the skills needed and so just left them or scrapped them for metal.

    Instead of going over and helping them, you make things worse. Mainly, voluntourism and the organisations that offer life-changing experience for '3 to 6 months' are for the volunteer's own sense of worth, not the people they're supposedly helping - so they can say they've done their bit for humanity and post great pictures on Facebook. I bet 99% of the volunteers never return to the place they went and if they do, I bet none of the villagers even remember them for the amount of volunteers that conveyor belt through their village.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Laozi)
    If you're actually qualified to do those things, and have carried all the equipment in your backpack then maybe - you'd need a massive drill, a team of experienced builders and lots and lots of materials. Then you'll have to brief the entire village on how to make sure they don't break anything and if they do, how to fix them.

    A charity once fundraised thousands of pounds to buy tractors for a village in Africa. The people were all happy of course and for the next few weeks they were able to farm their crops with ease. However, the tractors started breaking down. The locals had no idea how to fix them because no one had bothered to tell them and no one had trained them in the skills needed and so just left them or scrapped them for metal.

    Instead of going over and helping them, you make things worse. Mainly, voluntourism and the organisations that offer life-changing experience for '3 to 6 months' are for the volunteer's own sense of worth, not the people they're supposedly helping - so they can say they've done their bit for humanity and post great pictures on Facebook. I bet 99% of the volunteers never return to the place they went and if they do, I bet none of the villagers even remember them for the amount of volunteers that conveyor belt through their village.
    Of course people do it for themselves. Nobody does anything for anyone else.

    I get your point about the tractors but great things can be and have been done by volunteers.

    I just don't get why you're so bitter about people who volunteer.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Laozi)
    :rolleyes:

    I'm sure the locals benefited so much from you being there for a measly 3 months! That's hardly enough time to actually get to know anybody at a project. Although i'm sure the charity has benefited quite alot from that hefty £5000 you gave them.
    I'm not sure how 1,330 USD for 3 months (as listed on the organisation's website that I linked) equates to £5,000. Even when you add on the registration fee of 249 USD (it was actually cheaper when I registered, 229 USD iirc) and 5% transaction fee, it comes nowhere near. Google is pretty useful for finding fairly accurate currency converters, you should check it out sometime. Also, I became good friends with the staff at the local organisation, my hosts, other volunteers and residents working on projects there, most of whom I will be keeping in touch with. Even the students at the disability school I volunteered at, and the families supported by the feeding programme I led. I'd like to know how on earth it takes longer than 3 months of living with someone to get to know them?

    Classic voluntourism. Be honest, behind the 'i'm dedicating my time and money to help these poor guys' thoughts in the forefront of your mind, you were really thinking 'i'm so much better than everyone else, living out here, having a free holiday while offering absolutely nothing of value to these people. Can't wait to put these pictures up on facebook and brag and say how much people there changed me.'
    I also linked my blog, which explains exactly what I did out there. I'd recommend reading all given material to get your facts straight before making such bull**** assumptions. Tell me, what did you do on Christmas Day? I was in the slums of Kibera, delivering food, bought with donations from other volunteers. I also personally helped a young girl to get out of Kibera and off to university. I'm not saying I was solely responsible for this, but I have no doubt she won't forget me and what I've helped her to achieve. I'm not going to write up everything I did here, that's why I posted the blog. But just a couple of things to hopefully make you think twice before you throw **** in people's faces again.

    Yes, I did the usual touristy things whilst there too, volunteering isn't a 24/7 thing. But a free holiday? Far from it. The host houses for volunteers are no better than the average house for normal residents. Electricity and running water are luxuries not always available. Many a night we spent in candle light playing card games. Laundry is done by hand, in buckets in the street.

    And just to clarify where the money goes, the registration fee goes towards IVHQ for their wages and support (which is fantastic, for the record). The rest of the fees go to NVS for their wages and support, and to the host family whom you stay with. Both IVHQ and NVS are non-profitable organisations.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by hobo06)
    I'm not sure how 1,330 USD for 3 months (as listed on the organisation's website that I linked) equates to £5,000. Even when you add on the registration fee of 249 USD (it was actually cheaper when I registered, 229 USD iirc) and 5% transaction fee, it comes nowhere near. Google is pretty useful for finding fairly accurate currency converters, you should check it out sometime. Also, I became good friends with the staff at the local organisation, my hosts, other volunteers and residents working on projects there, most of whom I will be keeping in touch with. Even the students at the disability school I volunteered at, and the families supported by the feeding programme I led. I'd like to know how on earth it takes longer than 3 months of living with someone to get to know them?
    Sorry, I thought it'd be one of those expensive gap year organisations. What exactly does that money entail? Flights, house, food, travel? Keeping in touch with them? So these families in the slums have computers do they. Be honest, you'll never revisit the place and none of them will remember you. Hundreds of volunteers must run through that place every year.

    Because 3 months is no way near enough time to even establish any sort of contact with people of such a different culture and lifestyle, let alone even to even begin to understand them. I've done it myself; it took 5 months just to break past the barrier and master the language enough for us to have small but intriguing conversations. You flew in from England and instantly began walking around these slums with your expensive cameras and phones... maybe if you had lived in the slums for a year, shared their hardships, lived on the money they earned, ploughed the fields and worked the jobs they do then maybe you might be getting somewhere.


    (Original post by hobo06)
    I also linked my blog, which explains exactly what I did out there. I'd recommend reading all given material to get your facts straight before making such bull**** assumptions. Tell me, what did you do on Christmas Day? I was in the slums of Kibera, delivering food, bought with donations from other volunteers. I also personally helped a young girl to get out of Kibera and off to university. I'm not saying I was solely responsible for this, but I have no doubt she won't forget me and what I've helped her to achieve. I'm not going to write up everything I did here, that's why I posted the blog. But just a couple of things to hopefully make you think twice before you throw **** in people's faces again.
    From what i've read by skimming over your blog you zipped too and from projects of teaching to a food aid programme and you donated to orphanages where you never ever met the children, and you didn't even get to meet that girl you sent off to university's family - throwing some money at people isn't caring and being involved. I can say that I taught for over a year and by the end I still had so much work to do for them. Last winter I was actually living with a partner and my family in Tibet in a project i'd been in for a year. We had a nice Tibetan Losar dinner and then went out to the town with everyone for fireworks. Do you know why I wasn't handing out donations to all the beggars and villagers who lived in mud huts and tents? Because i'm not a self-righteous, arrogant Westerner. Do you know how non-Westerners feel when they see a rich, white kid walking around their hometown handing out little donations while taking photos on their expensive cameras? They laugh at it. And the fact that you're even boasting about it on here shows it too be true.

    (Original post by hobo06)
    Yes, I did the usual touristy things whilst there too, volunteering isn't a 24/7 thing. But a free holiday? Far from it. The host houses for volunteers are no better than the average house for normal residents. Electricity and running water are luxuries not always available. Many a night we spent in candle light playing card games. Laundry is done by hand, in buckets in the street.
    Actually I think you'll find volunteering is a 24/7 thing if you want to do it properly. I've volunteered myself and had to work 6 days a week for a year, from 8 in the morning to 22.30 at night. If I had gone into school 2 days a week to teach a 40 minute English class then the kids would of laughed and it would of been better for them in me not being there. What's the point of volunteering if you teach the basics of a subject for a couple of weeks and then swan off to see all the sights and have a good time drinking?

    Volunteering is a truly noble thing to do, and I respect it entirely, but only if you do it properly. These 3 month gap year organisations offer no benefit to the people they're trying to help. Imagine being a poor villager and seeing truck load after truck load of rich foreigners coming into your village every 3 months to teach a couple of lessons and then swan around the sights and get drunk. It's worrying.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Laozi)
    Sorry, I thought it'd be one of those expensive gap year organisations. What exactly does that money entail? Flights, house, food, travel? Keeping in touch with them? So these families in the slums have computers do they. Be honest, you'll never revisit the place and none of them will remember you. Hundreds of volunteers must run through that place every year.
    The main point of my initial post was to point out how cheap the organisation is, and to let people they know they are legitimate. You seem to have missed the final paragraph of my previous post, in regards to where the money goes, so here that part is again for you:
    And just to clarify where the money goes, the registration fee goes towards IVHQ for their wages and support (which is fantastic, for the record). The rest of the fees go to NVS for their wages and support, and to the host family whom you stay with. Both IVHQ and NVS are non-profitable organisations.
    Flights, travel, visas, travel insurance, anything touristy, are all extra. I see no point paying for an all in one package from expensive organisations when you can likely shop around yourself and get it cheaper.

    Computers in people's homes in the slums are very rare, but many do have internet enabled phones (often stolen/bought from black market type places) because they have managed to save up for it (having been in to many homes in Kibera, I was actually surprised to see some of the luxuries (not by our standards of course) that families had saved up for, such as a small flat screen TV or a CD player), and there are internet cafes (electricity and internet services (usually from a mobile phone network SIM card in a modem)), so many have Facebook and email access. I actually keep in touch with a pastor, and two guys who helped on the feeding programme and worked at the disability school, all 3 of whom live in Kibera, via email.

    You are correct in saying hundreds of volunteers go through every year. But you are, again, making assumptions. I met several returning volunteers, and I have every intention of doing the same. Of the two of us, I am the only one in a position to be able to judge whether people will remember me (actually, I'm the only one in a position to talk about most of the points you have made), and I have no doubt that many will.

    Because 3 months is no way near enough time to even establish any sort of contact with people of such a different culture and lifestyle, let alone even to even begin to understand them. I've done it myself; it took 5 months just to break past the barrier and master the language enough for us to have small but intriguing conversations. You flew in from England and instantly began walking around these slums with your expensive cameras and phones... maybe if you had lived in the slums for a year, shared their hardships, lived on the money they earned, ploughed the fields and worked the jobs they do then maybe you might be getting somewhere.
    It helps to know a bit about a country before talking about cultural differences. English is a second language in Kenya. The language barrier wasn't too much of an issue, for the most part. In fact, in recent years, English has actually become far more prominent in schools, many lessons now being taught in English, regardless of the subject (though there is a push to change this). You could often guess how people had been brought up, based on their language capabilities. In the more rural areas, people would be fluent only in their tribal tongue, speaking very little English, or even Kiswahili in some cases. In the urban areas, it varied greatly. Taking my experiences in Kibera as an example, those that had a somewhat decent education would be fairly good at English, and more fluent in Kiswahili and their tribal tongue. Those that had lived in Kibera all/most of their life, true Nubians, would speak mostly Arabic. But for the most part, English is very prominent, you'd even hear Kenyan's having conversations in English.

    Not being an idiot, I didn't take an expensive camera and phone (which was a wise choice, since I had my phone pick pocketed, and was almost mugged). Of course I didn't experience first hand how people live there. But having walked around Kibera almost every day for 3 months, I think I have a fairly good idea on what it is like. But I feel that regardless of what I say on this point, you'll just throw back that I haven't experienced it for real, so I won't waste any more time on it.

    From what i've read by skimming over your blog you zipped too and from projects of teaching to a food aid programme; I can say that I taught for over a year and by the end I still had so much work to do for them. Last winter I was actually living with a partner and my family in Tibet in a project i'd been in for a year. We had a nice Tibetan Losar dinner and then went out to the town with everyone for fireworks. Do you know why I wasn't handing out donations to all the beggars and villagers who lived in mud huts and tents? Because i'm not a self-righteous, arrogant Westerner. Do you know how non-Westerners feel when they see a rich, white kid walking around their hometown handing out little donations while taking photos on their expensive cameras? They laugh at it. And the fact that you're even boasting about it on here shows it too be true.
    It is true, I switched between several projects. The first I was not happy at, teaching at a school that appeared to have plenty of teachers, I felt I would be better placed elsewhere. I began teaching at a disability school instead, that had no teacher, only a cook, and someone who would bring the students in wheel chairs to and from school. This school relied on volunteers to give people, who can't get a proper education due to their disabilities, some form of education and hope in their lives.

    The same NGO that started this school also started the feeding programme (the NGO was actually formed by previous IVHQ volunteers, and now works in partnership with the local organisation), so that's how I ended up a part of that too. The volunteer on the programme when I arrived left a few weeks after me, I was asked if I would like to take over, so I did. It wasn't simply delivering food, it was finding the families in most need to be a part of the programme, managing the finances of it, and leading a tour for other volunteers through Kibera (one of the main ways the programme is funded is by volunteers paying to come on the tour). I realise this tour is the kind of thing you are so against. But the fact is, it is one of the only ways volunteers can really get a feel of how people live there, and I can assure you 100% of the donations from volunteers goes towards the programme.

    We always made a point of making sure volunteers are not taking photos of every one going about their daily lives. We stopped at a view point to get a view over a large section of Kibera, and the families we visit all agreed beforehand for people to take photos in their homes (of course, if there is anything on the day that means they would rather people didn't take pictures, or even enter the home, we would of course respect that). I'd also like to point out that, for the most part, the people living in Kibera were more than happy to see us westerners wandering around. They know we are trying to do something to help, and understand that we can't personally help every single person, but we are doing what we can to help someone. Especially on Christmas Day when we could have been elsewhere, being tourists (the programme wasn't actually going to go ahead on Christmas Day, instead the organisation wanted to give the families two weeks worth of food the week before, when I found there were several volunteers wanting to do it, I convinced the organisation, and ended up with a group of 15 volunteers all wanting to stay at my host's house Christmas eve to join us the following day, think of those people what you will, but there intentions were only to help, and the families really appreciated the big group of us visiting).

    Actually I think you'll find volunteering is a 24/7 thing if you want to do it properly. I've volunteered myself and had to work 6 days a week for a year, from 8 in the morning to 22.30 at night. If I had gone into school 2 days a week to teach a 40 minute English class then the kids would of laughed and it would of been better for them in me not being there. What's the point of volunteering if you teach the basics of a subject for a couple of weeks and then swan off to see all the sights and have a good time drinking?

    Volunteering is a truly noble thing to do, and I respect it entirely, but only if you do it properly. These 3 month gap year organisations offer no benefit to the people they're trying to help. Imagine being a poor villager and seeing truck load after truck load of rich foreigners coming into your village every 3 months to teach a couple of lessons and then swan around the sights and get drunk. It's worrying.
    I have nothing but respect for what you have done, there is no doubt you have probably done more than I have in the 'measly' 3 months I was there. But I hate your attitude towards other volunteers and the assumptions you make. You sound like the one who thinks you're better than everyone else. It doesn't matter how long you volunteer for, how many hours a day. It doesn't matter if the people you are helping remember you specifically, all that matters is that you have made the effort to make some kind of difference, even if that difference is minimal in the grand scheme of things, in whatever way you can. I saw many volunteers come and go, most only do a couple of weeks due to other commitments back home, and they feel bad when they realise there are other staying for months. We have to explain to them it doesn't matter. They have taken their personal time to come and help other people. That is all that matters in volunteering. And everyone is entitled to some wind down time. Most placements aren't running 24/7 (apart from orphanages), so if people want to 'swan around' and have a few drinks, that is their choice to do so. It is their free time after all.

    Sadly, there are a few 'volunteers' I met who I would share similar opinions to you about. There are a select few who do just see it as a cheap holiday, and then complain that the accommodation and food isn't up to their expectations, and barely even bother with their placements. But from my experience, there are not many like this, the majority of people are genuinely there to make a small difference.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by hobo06)
    Computers in people's homes in the slums are very rare, but many do have internet enabled phones (often stolen/bought from black market type places) because they have managed to save up for it (having been in to many homes in Kibera, I was actually surprised to see some of the luxuries (not by our standards of course) that families had saved up for, such as a small flat screen TV or a CD player), and there are internet cafes (electricity and internet services (usually from a mobile phone network SIM card in a modem)), so many have Facebook and email access. I actually keep in touch with a pastor, and two guys who helped on the feeding programme and worked at the disability school, all 3 of whom live in Kibera, via email.
    See, what i'm trying to show you here is that your 'experience' was a cardboard boxed product and it's morally wrong to box other people up on these boards. You say these people were your friends and you keep in touch with them... really? What was the pastor's favorite book or film? His view on Christianity? Did you ever sit down with him and have a conversation on volunteering, why he was there, what he thought about the slums? I'm not saying you didn't like him or he didn't like you or you didn't have a connection but, in this Facebook age, friendship doesn't come in an instant, my friend.

    I'm not being righteous and i'm not saying i'm better - volunteering in itself these days is a complete hypocrisy and organisations like yours carrying this.

    (Original post by hobo06)
    You are correct in saying hundreds of volunteers go through every year. But you are, again, making assumptions. I met several returning volunteers, and I have every intention of doing the same. Of the two of us, I am the only one in a position to be able to judge whether people will remember me (actually, I'm the only one in a position to talk about most of the points you have made), and I have no doubt that many will.
    Life is interpretation and assumptions. What i'm trying to find out is; did you make any lasting difference at all? You stacked a few books in the library, handed out a few sparse meals, taught a couple of kids and anonymously paid for an orphanage. What was the point of it all.

    (Original post by hobo06)
    It helps to know a bit about a country before talking about cultural differences. English is a second language in Kenya. The language barrier wasn't too much of an issue, for the most part. In fact, in recent years, English has actually become far more prominent in schools, many lessons now being taught in English, regardless of the subject (though there is a push to change this). You could often guess how people had been brought up, based on their language capabilities. In the more rural areas, people would be fluent only in their tribal tongue, speaking very little English, or even Kiswahili in some cases. In the urban areas, it varied greatly. Taking my experiences in Kibera as an example, those that had a somewhat decent education would be fairly good at English, and more fluent in Kiswahili and their tribal tongue. Those that had lived in Kibera all/most of their life, true Nubians, would speak mostly Arabic. But for the most part, English is very prominent, you'd even hear Kenyan's having conversations in English.
    Did you learn the native language? I doubt not because you were only there for 3 months. So you went from England, came to Kenya, spoke English to people whose English is their second language and that was it. Surely you would of had a much greater impact on the children's learning abilities and in organising aid if the project had trained you in the language before hand?

    (Original post by hobo06)
    Not being an idiot, I didn't take an expensive camera and phone (which was a wise choice, since I had my phone pick pocketed, and was almost mugged). Of course I didn't experience first hand how people live there. But having walked around Kibera almost every day for 3 months, I think I have a fairly good idea on what it is like. But I feel that regardless of what I say on this point, you'll just throw back that I haven't experienced it for real, so I won't waste any more time on it.
    Then what right do you have to say what it was like and that you made a difference there? I'm not throwing it back in your face I just want to debunk this great myth that quick-and-easy volunteering is all about helping, instead of going off for an exotic holiday and improving your self-worth. I mean even in your Facebook pictures you go to a tourist village instead of going to the real one. You dress up as them and wave a stick around for a bit and give them some money at the end all to say you've experienced real culture. You went on dozens of safaris... you were only there for 3 months, man!

    (Original post by hobo06)
    It is true, I switched between several projects. The first I was not happy at, teaching at a school that appeared to have plenty of teachers, I felt I would be better placed elsewhere. I began teaching at a disability school instead, that had no teacher, only a cook, and someone who would bring the students in wheel chairs to and from school. This school relied on volunteers to give people, who can't get a proper education due to their disabilities, some form of education and hope in their lives.
    Why? Who cares if they had plenty of teachers? What, you didn't think it was poor enough? I'm sure they could of beneffited from you being there? But then you probably weren't taught how to teach English or any other language before you came out. It once again seems like you only want bragging rights; 'I went to a school with no teachers, so poor but I went there because it was my duty.' My school had a hundred teachers but they still needed me there to teach English. Volunteering is about giving up your time in helping people learn a new skill or language, even if it's in a 4000 pupil school with 200 teachers or a 10 pupil school with no teachers.

    (Original post by hobo06)
    I have nothing but respect for what you have done, there is no doubt you have probably done more than I have in the 'measly' 3 months I was there. But I hate your attitude towards other volunteers and the assumptions you make. You sound like the one who thinks you're better than everyone else. It doesn't matter how long you volunteer for, how many hours a day. It doesn't matter if the people you are helping remember you specifically, all that matters is that you have made the effort to make some kind of difference, even if that difference is minimal in the grand scheme of things, in whatever way you can. I saw many volunteers come and go, most only do a couple of weeks due to other commitments back home, and they feel bad when they realise there are other staying for months. We have to explain to them it doesn't matter. They have taken their personal time to come and help other people. That is all that matters in volunteering. And everyone is entitled to some wind down time. Most placements aren't running 24/7 (apart from orphanages), so if people want to 'swan around' and have a few drinks, that is their choice to do so. It is their free time after all.
    I don't want respect for what I've done. You've got it totally wrong if you believe i'm better than everyone else i'm just arguing against people like you who swan off to foreign countries for a couple of weeks to play the saviour and then swan back to England and say how much you helped people etc. It does more damage than it does good. It does matter how long you volunteer for and how much you put in. If I volunteer for 1 hour a week then i'm not gonna do ****; it's just for my own sake to say i'm volunteering. Just like these 3 month gap year organisations. It does matter if they remember you because then you've made a real difference in their lives, instead of being a blurry white face, who kept taking pictures and who taught them a couple of lessons and then went off.

    I bet not one of those volunteers would volunteer in England or their home country - it's only because they get to spend time in an exotic place that they do it. How many gap organisations offer 3 months volunteering with the homeless in Bristol? It's narcissism.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    Having read through some of your post history, I have concluded that you are indeed a troll, and will not be wasting any more time responding to you.

    I sincerely hope your comments here do not put anyone off from pursuing a similar experience to mine.

    For the record, the tourist village is acknowledged in the album, nowhere do I state it is the true Masaai experience. And I went on one safari, you seem to have now turned to making **** up to back up your obnoxious opinions.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by hobo06)
    Having read through some of your post history, I have concluded that you are indeed a troll, and will not be wasting any more time responding to you.
    I've given you a rational, honest argument and because you can't answer back you call me a troll.

    Seems your experience really made you mature, hey. Typical. Shame your experience in slums didn't make you grow a back bone.

    (Original post by hobo06)
    I sincerely hope your comments here do not put anyone off from pursuing a similar experience to mine.
    I hope they do because they'd be wasting their money and time. You honestly did nothing in that village besides tidy up some books and teach a couple of lessons and hand out a couple of bags of food and you proclaim you helped people and made great friends.

    (Original post by hobo06)
    For the record, the tourist village is acknowledged in the album, nowhere do I state it is the true Masaai experience. And I went on one safari, you seem to have now turned to making **** up to back up your obnoxious opinions.
    Exactly. You went to a fake Masaai village and not the real one. Why? Sums up your whole experience out there. You're shown a fake experience that gives you a sense of self-worth instead of the true experience.

    Stop trying to boast on here and make people go 'OH I'M SO PROUD OF YOU FOR DOING THIS' because it's stupid and basically narcissism.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Laozi)
    I've given you a rational, honest argument and because you can't answer back you call me a troll.
    No, I called you a troll because of your previous post history. Please read the frigging reasoning presented to you in an as clear as day manner.

    I hope they do because they'd be wasting their money and time. You honestly did nothing in that village besides tidy up some books and teach a couple of lessons and hand out a couple of bags of food and you proclaim you helped people and made great friends.
    I've already explained how I did far more than that, in the blog and even here, but unfortunately your attention span seems to be that of a goldfish as you keep missing points.

    Exactly. You went to a fake Masaai village and not the real one. Why? Sums up your whole experience out there. You're shown a fake experience that gives you a sense of self-worth instead of the true experience.
    I already explained this in the album. But one more time for you, I didn't get the chance to go to a true masaai village like others did. If you bothered to look on the organisation's website, you'd see they offer it as a volunteer placement, but it wasn't the placement I signed up to. As an example, to show that it is genuine, I met a girl who set up a night school in masaai land, for the men who never got a chance at an education because they spend all day tending to the animals from a young age.

    Stop trying to boast on here and make people go 'OH I'M SO PROUD OF YOU FOR DOING THIS' because it's stupid and basically narcissism.
    I am not boasting at all. The whole purpose of this thread, which was pretty clear in the OP, was to show people that the organisation is genuine (obviously not to people like you who have their own ideas about what volunteering is about), and for people who are interested to ask questions about volunteering, Kenya, the organisation etc. Not for people with their head so far up their own arse to flame because they have nothing better to do with their lives than try to put people down on an internet forum.

    Seriously done with this now.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Well he seems to be an absolute arse.

    I want to volunteer with IVHQ but I've seen some really bad reviews about them being a profit organisation etc etc. can you please just reassure me (I know you've already done this) that this isn't the case?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Well someone's a ray of sunshine. I think what you did was absolutely awesome and would love to do something like that one day. It must really of changed you as a person?
    Offline

    7
    ReputationRep:
    Will definitely have a read of you blog later I volunteered with what Laozi calls a gap year company, yes it was a holiday but we did help people out there i'm sure, what with setting up an after school club and playing games, playing football with the children, continuing reforestation work that was started by earlier groups. I'm really not sure what gripe Laozi has with what you did, I think it's good that people help other people out, regardless of where you are or how much you paid for it, i think he's jealous of your experiences
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    Nice to get some positive feedback on here after that other person!


    (Original post by Kjholmes)
    Well he seems to be an absolute arse.

    I want to volunteer with IVHQ but I've seen some really bad reviews about them being a profit organisation etc etc. can you please just reassure me (I know you've already done this) that this isn't the case?
    As far as I am aware, this isn't the case at all. They do take a registration fee, and 5% extra on payments due to PayPal's fees, but they are clear on what these charges are for. The registration fee is for their support for you, which from my experience, was great. The programme co-ordinator regularly contacted me leading up to the trip, to make sure I had everything sorted, and even contacted me throughout the trip to make sure all was going well, despite, at that point, being in the hands of the local organisation, NVS.

    As I extended my trip whilst out there, I can also confirm the costs for doing that through NVS were exactly the same as if I had done it through IVHQ, showing that 100% of the program fee charged by IVHQ goes to the local organisation, no cut is taken for IVHQ themselves.


    (Original post by iloveusernames)
    Well someone's a ray of sunshine. I think what you did was absolutely awesome and would love to do something like that one day. It must really of changed you as a person?
    Of course! Being back home working in a warehouse now doesn't really feel that I'm doing much of use, when this time last year I could do so much more to actually help people. Not only that, but it's made me more confident as a person, having met so many new people, speaking to strangers, and speaking in front of large groups of people.


    (Original post by redrose_ftw)
    Will definitely have a read of you blog later I volunteered with what Laozi calls a gap year company, yes it was a holiday but we did help people out there i'm sure, what with setting up an after school club and playing games, playing football with the children, continuing reforestation work that was started by earlier groups. I'm really not sure what gripe Laozi has with what you did, I think it's good that people help other people out, regardless of where you are or how much you paid for it, i think he's jealous of your experiences
    I can understand how in some cases it can be seen as a 'glorified holiday', but it is really down to the individual to make it more than that. I don't know about the company you used, but I tried to make sure I was using a company that, as explained above, isn't doing it for their own gain. Of course you want to have a good time whilst you're there, and depending on how long you go for, it can be difficult to get a good balance between sight-seeing/whatever and helping the local community. But as long as you've tried and actually done something, no matter how small, that is the main thing.

    There was actually one guy at my orientation, who clearly had no idea what he had signed up for. He arrived a few days before orientation, apparently knowing some people in Nairobi already (nothing to do with the organisation). He partied with them for the first few days, and that's all he seemed to talk about at orientation, inviting others to go out drinking with him. He then found he was placed outside of Nairobi, complained about his bed at the place he was staying, and the next day, he went back to meet his friends and we never heard from him again. I think it's obvious all he went for was some fun. Although, he could have just spoken to NVS, requesting to be switched to a placement in Nairobi, and they would have done whatever they could to help.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Without wanting to have a go at the OP, whose affirmations that they did good deeds, made a difference etc I will take at face value, any prospective volunteer should at a minimum google 'voluntourism harmful' and read the other side of the volunteering argument before they go. There are some very worrying trends which point to the great harm which voluntourism can do- for example, in Cambodia there is a thriving trade in selling children to orphanages so that rich westerners can spend a few days 'volunteering' with orphans, even though 80% of children in some orphanages had at least one surviving parent. Not to mention the attachment issues which can form when young children are subjected to a conveyor belt of volunteers who arrive, form a bond with the children, and then leave weeks/months later.

    This isn't to discredit what the OP may or may not have done, but anyone who volunteers should at the very least study both sides of the argument and decide for themselves whether their visit is likely to do more harm than good. 'Digging a well' is just taking a job and money away from a local manual labourer. 'Teaching English' in a country with a healthy supply of fluent English speaking locals (such as Ghana) may not be the best way to spend one's time- especially if you have no teaching experience.

    It is interesting how so many comments on these volunteering threads focus on 'how much the experience must have changed the volunteer'- personal development is a nice byproduct of volunteering, but the primary purpose should always be to do good and to help people. By and large, this is best left to skilled workers (doctors at MSF, engineers at VSO etc.) as unskilled undergraduates are unlikely, in many cases, to be able to offer much of use.

    Personal attacks aside, in the general sense I agree with the earlier poster. If people want to 'make a difference' then why not volunteer in the UK- or possibly in a less glamorous location (it's interesting how so many foreign volunteering placements are in 'easy' countries with wildlife, beaches, nice things to see and do- plenty of people go to Kenya, how many go to less glamorous Burundi where there is far greater need?)

    I'm sure this particular individual made a difference/did good things etc. but it is worrying how many people here and elsewhere 'volunteer' for what is essentially a glorified holiday and make no effort to consider the potential harm that they may be causing to the communities they want to 'help'. This isn't just true of voluntourism- many professional development organisations arguably do more harm than good as well.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Hi, I'm considering joining the Kenya program with IVHQ in April this year! I have a trivial question though, how did you keep in contact with family and friends while you were there? Is it easy to sign a 3G package for my phone? Thanks!
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by itwasallyellowand)
    Hi, I'm considering joining the Kenya program with IVHQ in April this year! I have a trivial question though, how did you keep in contact with family and friends while you were there? Is it easy to sign a 3G package for my phone? Thanks!
    Hi, glad to hear you're looking at volunteering too, I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time!

    I never looked into data packages whilst there, I'm not sure if 3G is very widespread. I just bought a cheap basic Nokia phone and got a PAYG SIM card on a network there for texts and calls. I can't remember exact prices, but international calls, to landlines at least, are super cheap, compared to what we'd pay on a UK network anyway. You can pick up a cheap phone and/or SIM from most supermarkets (Nakumatt is a large, multi-department chain store, like ASDA or Tesco), and buy a top up from most street vendors.

    I know a few people who got data only SIMs for their iPads and such, and you can even get a basic WiFi broadcaster thing that you pop a data SIM into. From what I recall, these didn't work too well for Skype and such, but were fine for basic web browsing (although the speeds varied greatly at times).

    Depending on where you're staying, you'll likely be able to find a local shopping centre with several WiFi hotspots (particularly in Nairobi) in bars/restaurants/cafes. The speeds again can vary greatly, but for the most part, they can be as fast as the cheaper broadband packages you'd find here and are fine for Skype, and even downloading music and videos.

    If you end up in Nairobi, in particular at the Volunteer House or Pastor Regina's, I would recommend The Junction shopping centre. My favourite spot was Dormans cafe next to Nakumatt, near the main entrance. I'd often sit there with a coffee (so much so that I was on a first name basis with most of the staff and they knew what I would be drinking), Skype with my parents and download some TV from back home to catch up on.

    I hope this helps, any more questions feel free to fire them my way.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    It is good that people write about their experiences. And I am sure this are the volunteers who will volunteer again, but even better and more clever and not through such companies. People who reflect,are the best volunteers. Critical thinking is exactly that what is needed. If we take corruption and absuse as given, how will it change and why are we there for. To tell them and our friends back home, thats this is how it has been and will be? We have to push the companis and big Organizations, its our right as we pay them to offer programs that have been evaluated and that make a difference.
    The type of people who who voice issues even weeks and months after the bad experience they had, are the most important people. That is what volunteerism is about: The work after you return, the larning experience. And I am glad people share it, otherwise the market wont change. It is legit to have high expectations as IVHQ is NOT a company from a third world country. Transparency should be given. But IVHQ has no child safe policy or responsible volunteering guidlines in place which actually meet comman standarts. They have never been implemented. No indicators, no evidence, no evaluation process. The company is staffed with semi profesionalls in this area who have no capacity and interest when it comes to development aid or social work. It is all about supply and demand. And they dont care about the demand but only the supply. Volunteer Numbers are by far to high to make sure projects are sustainible, and they are proude about it. Partners are beeing changed regular, corrupt placments are beeing supported for ages. Sadly, IVHQ is not even trying to make changes.

    Many people have bad experiences with IVHQ but actually do not talk about it. And on top, many volunteers do not care about sustainibility or just do not have the education or experience to see the things which are wrong. it taks time. Companies need to change, how will they if we take all as given? How will they if we excuse all with the third world excuse. We have to meet the people on the same level we would meet people back home. And set similar standarts, at least for the westerners involved. Otherwise, why are you there for?

    The list is long. Here are some good articals and facebook links:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Respo...677425?fref=ts
    http://www.volunteertruth.org/
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=2663118
    http://www.openthemagazine.com/artic...volunteer-trap
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/6289...27957/?fref=ts
    https://www.luckybreakconsulting.com...-volunteering/
    http://www.volunteeroverseas.com/ivh...-gift-for-gift
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: April 30, 2014
Poll
Do you agree with the PM's proposal to cut tuition fees for some courses?

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.