I’m really keen on doing a 5/6 week building project in Ghana in September or October this year and i’ve found 2 that i cant choose between. One is with Gapsports and the other is Madventurer. The Gapsports website makes theirs appeal to me because it says about how good the social side of it is but on the Madventurer site it doesnt give as much information.
Does anyone have any advice on which one is better? I dont know whether Madventurer just have a bad website or what. I’ve emailed both companies but havent heard back yet so any advice would be really helpful.
Thanks a lot.
Ive just come back from Ghana, volunteering as a medic with Madventurer.
Mixed reviews really- the house you stay in is a dump and a lot of the staff are more interested in getting pissed than helping you out. My placements were really good, but I prob could have arranged them myself if I had the intelligence to have done that. I think they are going to have a bit of a kick up the bum cause quite a few people have complained about the living conditions etc.
I thought the UK staff were really helpful. I rang them before I booked with them to check that you werent put on placements in the middle of nowhere by yourself and that you were picked up and dropped off at the airport. I was assured that you were never on isolated placements by yourself- they tried to dump me in an isolated village by myself when I got there and most of the volunteers had to get taxis to the airport when leaving.
Plus, breakfast and lunch is bread only. Food is only provided in the evenings and not at weekends.
I’ve been with worse organisations, but GVI and Raleigh were highly recommended by other volunteers- they said they could see where their money went. You will wonder what your money was spent on if you go with Mad.
I went with Mad and will say that depending on which group you’re in, the accomodation was really varied.
I was in Ho on a sportsventurer project and our house was new, and we had 2 chefs that cooked all our meals for us. At weekends we travelled to different locations around Ghana and met up with all the other groups and got to find out what they were up to. Most of the people on building projects clearly were living in huts and sleeping on the floor etc etc. But hey, its Africa, what did you expect?
I’m sure whoever you go with you’ll have an awesome time.
I went with Mad and had without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my life!
Yes we slept in a very basic house, and yes the food is basic (although we did experience home cooked ghanean food for every meal which was awesome) but isnt that part of the experience? The building was challenging but rewarding and the people in Ghana are extremely welcoming and friendly. On weekends we left the village to go to some stunning beaches/locations and did a fair bit of sampling the local alcohol!
I dont know what happened in Jsoanes trip but we were all taken to the airport (apart from those who stayed a bit longer) and I definitely wasnt alone in a village – there were 12-14 of us in the end.
Ghana is such an amazing country though Im sure you’ll have an awesome time whoever you go with! Oh and if you get the chance visit green turtle lodge?
If you’re interested in going anywhere in Africa lots of the volunteers recommended GVI or Raleigh. Although the food and acommodation were basic on the expeditions when you arrived back at the main camp you had proper sleeping arrangements and proper food.
I know I’m comming across as very negative, but I’ve been with other organisations before and being in Africa was no excuse. The house I was refering to was in Accra in street that was so wealthy we had to get the taxis to drop us off at the eye clinic nearby so they wouldnt start hanging round the other houses; yet volunteers had to sit on mattresses in the living room (which one of the staff urinated on!) whilst the staff had wicker chairs in their office. Half the beds were broken and those that weren’t didnt have proper mattresses. They had to give two volunteers a full refund after 2 days because the living conditions in the main house and the lack of food was so bad and so different from what was advertised.
The guy I was with in the community was lovely, but had no training on how to look after us. He only fed us once a day and I lost 4kg in 3 days! (and i’m little). I spent 1.5 weeks with him and 1.5 in accra. I paid just under Â£1000 for the 3 weeks- he got given approx Â£50 for my food and travel cost (for the whole time I was with him) and the hospital in Accra didn’t get anything.
If you’ve got any previous travelling experience I would recommend to sort out your placements yourself cause it will be loads cheaper and you would know that the money ypu were spending would be going to a good cause- rather than admin.
I guess it depends what you expect. i traveled to Ghana with Madventurer and the house was basic, but this is the third world you know!!!
I would say the best thing about Mad is that your in a group of like minded people and that really adds something to the experience that i don’t think you get going it alone.
Went with GAPSPORTS and wouldnt recommend them. Placements are not prepared, staff cannot be bothered after the first week – takes days and days to get an answer on the most basic thing – after the first week you are def on your own! For example – the staff let a group of 18 year old female volunteers treck 10 hrs into the jungle to the eco village – only for them to find that it had been closed for 6 months!! Turns out the staff knew something of this but didnt think to let the girls know …Place was robbed when I was there despite having 24 hr security and barbed wire – very suspect! Place was skanky for skanky sake when you think of the money people are paying for the placement – I dont expect a palace but seats on the wicker chairs would be nice! DONT TOUCH EM!
Happy to jump in on behalf of Madventurer here….I founded MAD back in 1998 when I was a gap year student myself (after questionning the level of impact of some huge profit-making focussed overseas volunteering operators) and I am immensely proud of what our volunteers have achieved – we also learn quickly and admit if we get anything wrong…so thank you for all the positive comments guys and we have also fully taken on board any historic negative comments which I hope (on behalf of the mad team) to update you on below 🙂
Some of the comments about our old Accra house did make us change accommodation – unfortunately at the time when Raleigh were pulling out of Ghana we offered to take on their projects and their support house in Accra which looking back was not the best move we ever made as it was very expensive and meant that for a short period of time we could not plough excess funding into donations / buying new stocks – but we had to see off the rest of the contract before we could move on – sorry if we (inc our former crew) let anyone down back then but I think overall all the volunteers had cracking projects and we fixed any problems in good time when we were going through a busy growth spurt which caught us off-guard.
Madventurer Volunteer Projects is a registered not-for-profit which helps fund community development initiatives for the MAD (Make A Difference) Foundation – Reg UK Charity No 1111805 – and these days we focus much more on combining developent through sport, teaching, health, social work and building projects in communities that really need our help (we no longer work in Accra where we feel the efforts of gap year volunteers are generally restricted) – we are also now based within Newcastle University Students’ Union after being vetted by the student body as one of the ‘good guys’ in overseas volunteering and have some fantastic Patrons who champion the work of our volunteers – so pass by anytime and we’ll make you a cuppa…
We are a small team (with a very small but effective office….low overheads + not-for-profit ethos = max impact on projects) doing what we feel is incredibly worthwhile work with the help and support of all the mad volunteers that join us….
MAD has built hundreds of classrooms and toilets all over world for very humble schools who have asked for our help over the last 13 years – none of this could happen without enthusiastic and committed volunteers who fundraise and join our Projects…
Happy to chat anytime, and Rach and Steph (brilliant and amazing experienced crew members) at MAD HQ are also happy to chat!
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