International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) - does anyone have experience with them?

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International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) - does anyone have experience with them?

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Total Posts: 1

Joined 2016-08-21

Andy - 23 November 2011 01:06 PM

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I get very nervous when I see what looks like critical reviews and replies being removed.  Are you independent of the organization in question?

     
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Total Posts: 2

Joined 2016-09-21

Hi! I will be volunteering with IVHQ this January on their Ubud, Bali Kindergarten trip! I’m looking to raise funds for my trip and it would be awesome if you guys could check it out!

https://www.gofundme.com/emmagoestobali

     
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Total Posts: 2

Joined 2016-09-21

Hi! I will be volunteering with IVHQ this January on their Ubud, Bali Kindergarten trip! I’m looking to raise funds for my trip and it would be awesome if you guys could check it out!

https://www.gofundme.com/emmagoestobali

     
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Total Posts: 2

Joined 2016-09-21

My application was just accepted to go with IVHQ to Delhi on the childcare project. Has anyone been there or heard of what it’s like there? or what school/orphanage I’ll actually be in?

     
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Total Posts: 1

Joined 2017-08-09

Just putting this here as IVHQ have a habit of taking down negative reviews so not really sure where to note these experiences.

I have recently come back from a IVHQ project in Bogota Colombia and have noted the following flaws with the Colombian operation concerning the local foundation Emerging Voices who through IVHQ deals.

1) Emerging Voices, the local organisation that IVHQ deals with in Colombia is itself a middle-man organisation taking volunteers cash. The actual charitable organisations on the ground are the Mother Theresa Foundation grandmother shelter and soup kitchen in La Perseverancia neighborhood, a homeless shelter in Santa Fe neighborhood, Mama Yolanda Orphanage, San Jorge orphanage, a school in the Los Altos de la Florida slum and the Uniminuto University in Soacha.

The issue, to be clear, is not the existence a 2nd organisation on the ground separate to IVHQ that coordinates the volunteering. The issue is that you are only made aware of this organisation once you have handed over the money to IVHQ. You could go directly to this organisation - just type Emerging voices Bogota into google.

Whilst I don’t know of explicit details, there was plenty of suspicion (thanks to comments by the non-Colombian volunteer coordinators) that the finances of Emerging Voices were very… opaque. It is to my understanding that the coordinators of Emerging Voices have been using the money from volunteers to fund their lifestyle rather than donate money to the organisations they send volunteers. There were also suggestions that money from the volunteers may have been used for legal fees in court preceedings the family was undertaking. If this was the case then the fault in the underfunding of the projects and the lack of transparency (given the personal nature of the legal precedings) lies with IVHQ for instead of Emerging Voices, who should donate more money to the projects rather than lining their own pockets.

Either way - there is very little transparency on where the cash you spend goes…

2) There is a surcharge for the construction project. This is absurd. This is supposedly used to pay for tools. The only tools used on this project - building a house in the Ciudad Bolivar favela for the security guard - were tools already owned by the security guard. Clearly this money going elsewhere.

3) There appeared to be a lack of coordination between the foundation and the orphanages themselves. One of them explicitly said that they wanted to reduce the amount of volunteers from Emerging Voices as they were proving a distraction rather than an aid to the children. The positive is that there is no sense of the orphanage being forced to take volunteers the negative is the lack of coordination and the lack of preparation of volunteers to ensure they have a positive impact. It did seem to Emerging Voices’s credit that by the end of my time there they did seem to be collaborating more with the organisations and working to better coordinate the activities of volunteers. I hope these improvements continue.

I would also like to add that when I raised my concerns about the IVHQ programme at the time with IVHQ - they conveniently archived my email and didn’t reply until I had finished the programme.

However, the positives are that the projects themselves especially Soacha and homeless are great projects. The teacher, who provides the Spanish lessons (and hadn’t been paid in months for his work with Emerging Voices) does a good job in ensuring the lessons are well prepared. When you teach in Colombia you aren’t put in front of a class by yourself - you are an assistant, a native English teacher who comes to the English lessons are couple of times a week.

Furthermore whilst not exactly an issue concerning the homeless project IVHQ website doesn’t tell the whole truth. It states the project runs 4 days a week. Correct. 2 of those days the homeless project is a couple of hours cooking in the evening, the other 2 a couple of hours in the morning washing up. Just adding this to give people a fuller idea of what to expect if you sign up for homeless project. What is great about the programme to an extent is the flexibility - you can sign up for homeless and go and help at the university. The issue is that it makes it even harder to ensure the best interests of the kids are put first and to coordinate a programme that priorities them rather than paying volunteers.

I would also add you should have no safety concerns about coming to Bogota. The volunteer house is in the Pablo Sexto/El Quirinal area of Bogota near Parque Simon Bolivar - the largest park in South America. The area is social strata 4 and is very safe. The areas where the placements are are dangerous but you take a taxi straight there and back - get the Tappsi app and you’ll be fine. The only issue is that it can take up to an hour thanks to traffic to get to anywhere properly interesting like La Candelaria or Usaquen and thanks to the hideously complex Transmilenio bus system - taxi costs mount up. On less popular projects - such as homeless - it should be noted that you could be spending a £5/day just on transport to and from by taxi (buses would take a million years…

So whilst I wouldn’t say definitively, don’t travel to Colombia with IVHQ… carefully consider it. The situation is likely to change, may have already done so. But just be aware the depiction on the IVHQ website… is wholly inaccurate. From this forum it appears the Colombia programme is comparatively well run when compared to programmes in Nepal and Uganda - maybe partly because COlombia is a richer more developed country. Either way - just brace for things to be a lot more complex than they look on the website…