I´m coordinator of many volunteer organizations in Bolivia and this year on February I received an email from MICATZ (suposed to be a volunteer organization) the “manager” said to me that he had a volunteer that was really interested in coming to Bolivia and he didn´t have a program here so he asked if I was interested on start working with them they would send a few volunteers each month so I accepted (I trusted easily because I work with volunteer organization from all over the world for 6 years already and never had a bad experience.) so the volunteer actually arrived but he was meant to send me the payment before she arrived , it didn´t happen, I was patient, but like one week before the volunteer left I asked for payment again and he wouldnt reply any of my emails I sent another email saying that I was going to charge the volunteer before she leaves and then I got a reply saying that he was sorry but he got malaria and was about to die at the hospital asked if I could be kind and wait one week for payment, so I felt very sorry for him and waited but again the payment didnt happen at the end I told him that I was taking legal actions and he replied saying that he is not saying that he doesn´t owe me that money but he couldn´t pay. So this man Edward Laiser is meant to be the manager at MICATZ if it exists, however he charged to the volunteer and keep the money for himself . I can´t assure that MICATZ doesn´t exists but if they do exisit they have no ethical sense at all.
Original volunteers are fantastic if you want to find places cheaply. You also have the option to pay for extras if you are in need of more assistance when travelling. However when you just want the info they are so cheap and brilliant.
Went to Borneo with Global Vision. They were organised and really took care of everything. A great experience
REally don’t rate Projects Abroad. They send an invoice for the travel, then ask within a week for a 75% increase. Something has to be wrong here!
What is written here it’s NOT true completely, this person hasn’t sent us his or her personal full bank details to be used for transfer, So we failed to pay him or her but once we will receive the bank accounts to use for payment then for sure we will make the payment for it with no problem at all.
I’d find a few organisations through search and then check them out on Facebook. Good organisations will have groups with at least a couple of hundred members who you can contact directly. That’s what I did and had a great time.
Also having read some of the posts above, I’d like to point that general disorganisation once you’ve arrived in-country is not a scam. If you are travelling to a developing country and expecting everything to run perfectly smoothly you’re in for a shock. The mentality is just completely different so things happen slowly :)
Any company that charges you to ‘‘volunteer’’ is a scam in my opinion!
Most good organisations charge volunteers to cover meals and accommodation. When I volunteered it cost me about $20 per day, which was less than I would have paid for a hostel and three meals.
Sure, it probably only cost them $10 a day, but they made $10 to put towards community projects.
Expecting locals to host you for free in exchange for a few hours work reeks of colonialism in my opinion!
We wrote an article about choosing a volunteering placement for the site a while ago, I’m sure…
*goes off to rummage for it*
I am an intern at a volunteer placement organisation and our advice on choosing a placement company is to scrutinise it.
Research and chose an ethically responsible company to volunteer with. Ask:
- Can they provide a brief job description?
- Do they work directly with local partner organisations?
- Do they financially contribute to local partners?
- Can they explain how your fees are used and where they go?
- Do they have policies for eco/ethical tourism?
- What support and training will you receive?
Also ask to speak to previous travellers/volunteers. If they cannot provide you with the answers you need then go elsewhere.
You can check companies are registered with the Year Out group which is a not-for-profit organisation that provides a reference for gap year travel companies.
You can increase your chances of having a successful placement by making sure you travel with a company that is non-profit and ethically focused.
Look at what support is provided before you go away and whilst your in country. Will you have a volunteer coordinator to advise you on the details of your trip before you leave? Will you be able to contact the field staff before your deployment? Will you have access to an emergency phone number 24/7 back in the UK?
Look at what is included with the projects. Meals, accommodation, airport transfer, different projects have different things included so do your research to make sure you get the best deal.
Research the company, examine its history and current motives. If your looking for something more than a travel agency then make sure you choose a company which has produced tangible results.
Frontier was established in 1989 as a non-profit conservation and development non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. Today, they run over 300 gap year projects worldwide, in areas such as community development, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, humanitarian, research and conservation projects.
Discover a world of volunteering opportunities with Frontier.
If ethics and environmental performance are factors then opt for Volunteer Latin America: http://www.volunteerlatinamerica.com
Have you used that volunteerlatinamerica.com site before?
I was looking at it the other day and it looked good, but was wary of paying the £25 for the information up front.
I’ll happily do it if it saves me money long term, a lot of the “project” companies I have looked at are charging extortionate amounts for a month (£1500+) in South America.
There is a list of free and low-cost volunteer opportunities in South America here:
www.volunteersouthamerica.net, (it’s my site)
There is also a section in the FAQ about volunteer scams, in general, and particularly when volunteering in Animal rescue centres in South America.