Negative Experience with IFRE
I would like to share the experience I had with IFRE in India. I have recently come back from a one month summer volunteering project where I worked in a slum school in Faridabad. Overall, I had an incredible and very positive experience in the country. However I also experienced a couple critical points with IFRE:
1) According to what I had to pay for this four week volunteer program, I realized during my work experience that certainly not a lot (if any) of the money reaches the school. There are no proper tables, no exercise books and few reading books in the school. For this reason I am wondering how the 1,899$ that I paid for this trip has been used by IFRE.
2) I noticed that IFRE does not require any background checks of the volunteers. Anybody, whether with good or bad intentions can work with the children in the school. This could be a potential danger for the students.
3) Volunteers do not need any teaching experience to work in the school. Additionally, no lesson plans or instructions on what to teach the pupils were given to me when I arrived in India.
4) I had difficulties with the payment of the trip; I was overcharged on one occasion and asked to repay the entire program fees on another occasion. Also, I had to email IFRE for an invoice.
5) Unlike mentioned on the website, where it states that “IFRE’s staff also visits each volunteer every 1-2 weeks”, the other volunteers and I got no such visits within my 3 week stay in the school.
6) IFRE (or Global Crossroads who IFRE works with) did not follow the program mentioned on the IFRE website accurately. For example I did not get to visit the city of Ranthambore at all. Unfortunately no alternative excursion was proposed to me.
7) On one occasion, my parents contacted the country coordinator in India and he gave them incorrect information about my location in the country.
8) During the time I was sightseeing, I was asked by the local IFRE/Global Crossroads contact to give extravagantly high tips to the drivers and guides.
Therefore I do not recommend traveling with IFRE Volunteers.