My wife and I traveled with Global Volunteers to Pommern, Tanzania three times over the past four years. We were impressed with their Philosophy of Service and how it is implemented every day during the service program. Global Volunteers took care of all our basic needed throughout each service trip. We had meaningful work in the community every day. We helped teach English and other subjects in the Secondary School, we worked on various work and minor construction projects side by side with community members, we helped weigh babies during a monthly well baby clinic, and we learned a considerable amount about local and national Tanzanian culture and society. Global Volunteers' in-country staff are very well trained. They work with volunteers to fit volunteers' skills and interests with those of the community to maximize their benefits. They seek opportunities for volunteers to interact with the community to promote inter-cultural awareness. We had a wonderful experience each time we traveled with Global Volunteers and plan to do so again many times in the future.
Review from Guidestar
I have gone on trips with Global Volunteers in China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Guatemala and Jamaica, as well as in the U.S.. They have always been well organized and extremely cost-effective for what I received. I am impressed with their professionalisma nd oganization. I would happily go on another experience when time the opportunity arises.
I loved my Global Volunteers service opportunity. I chose Global Volunteers because I wanted to maximize my chances of a interacting with the people in the community I would be visiting. My Global Volunteers adventure did not disappoint in any way. The trip was well-organized, well-managed and well-received by both volunteers and host community. I enjoyed my fellow volunteers, our project and the time available to pursue personal interests. What I enjoyed most, however, was being in that small Costa Rican community -- the people, the food, the chance to both glimpse and be a part of a different way of living.
Review from Guidestar
My wife, Marilyn, and myselof have been on Global Volunteers teams in the United States, Ecuador,Portugal, and most recently St.Lucia. We have taught English, painted,built, helped children with disabilities, and done whatever the local community wanted us to do. It has been a wonderful experience in every place we have served. Also, the bonding with other volunteers has been in itself so worthwhile. We are looking foward to again going with Global Volunteers to leave our mark on the world.--Roger Yockey, Lynnwood, Washington
Review from Guidestar
I was impressed by my experience with Global Volunteers. The team leader in Xi'an was fantastic: upbeat, personable, incredibly helpful and supportive. I worked for two weeks at La La Shou, a special needs school, and it was a terrific experience. The language barrier was difficult, but I felt that our presence at the school (I volunteered there with a friend) gave a lift to the teachers. We were a novelty in their busy weeks. I'd recommend Global Volunteers to others: from our lodging to the work site, we were well supported and cared for.
Review from Guidestar
Global Volunteers gave me an opportunity to "Leave My Mark" on the world in Xi'an, China. For two weeks, Monday through Friday, I taught conversational English, pronunciation and comprehension to students with various levels of English understanding at Xi'an Biomedical Technical School. Most of the students, who ranged in age from 15 to 22, were Han Chinese from various provinces. However, one group, were Uyghurs from Xinjiang province. These Muslim students had their own language and customs, including dietary requirements. The Uyghr students are learning Mandarin, The Chinese national language, as well as English. The stundents eagerly shared their culture and were enthusiastic in learning about the United States. My volunteer experience put me face-to-face daily with typical Chinese locals in daily situations. It was a living experience of a cultural exchange. The Global Volunteer Country Manager, shared with us the language, customs, history and the daily opportunity to taste the delicious foods. I do believe that World Peace does begin through mutual international understanding, which is one of the philosophies of service with Global Volunteers. I felt that I made a "difference" and was gifted with a rewarding experience. I look forward to another opportunity in the future to "Leave My Mark" with Global Volunteers.
My wife and I have done five volunteer trips with Global Volunteers - Ecuador (June, 2007), Romania (October, 2008), Tanzania (January, 2010), Peru (January, 2011) and India (January, 2012). GV is extremely organized and makes every effort to assure that volunteers are well prepared for each service project. GV provides a wealth of written materials, responds promptly to inquiries and questions and has a comprehensive web-site. Programs are sponsored by local entities which provides positive interaction with the community we serve. The country managers are well versed about their countries and assist each volunteer in having a meaningful cultural experience. We have great respect for GV and believe they are one of the best NGOs, if not the best around. We recommend the program highly and would be glad to answer individual questions.
My husband and I have four sons, Matt, Jack, Dan, and Ryan. In 2007 Matt was invited to participate in an educational travel program designed for high school students. Having remembered seeing a piece on The Today Show a number of years previously on short-term volunteering abroad, Matt and I began to investigate Global Volunteers. Based in St. Paul, MN, since 1987 Global Volunteers has worked in partnership with local leaders in over 15 countries around the world to bring human and economic resources to children and families in remote areas such as the small village of Pommern, in the southern highlands of Tanzania. Although Tanzania is an emerging and very safe country, it continues to be one of the most disadvantaged countries in the world. While drawn by the opportunity to meet new people and experience a new culture, what quickly convinced us to go was Global Volunteers itself. Global Volunteers is guided by a unique philosophy of service, stating simply, “that to be truly successful in sustainable development assistance, volunteers must work at the invitation, and under the direction, of those they are attempting to assist. Local people are always in charge.” Global Volunteers believes that true development mobilizes empowered people: both those seeking assistance, and those who seek to serve them. Matt and I had the privilege to serve with GV in 2008. I then returned with my son Jack in 2008, and will return in July 2012 with Dan and Ryan.
In the Iringa district where the village of Pommern is located, the needs are immense and resources are few. Although Pommern is high on a mountain, there are many smaller villages further up, forcing villagers to walk 25km to come to the clinic, school, or to catch the daily bus to Iringa. Homes are made of sun-baked mud bricks, and must be re-bricked each year before the rainy season begins in December. Most roofs are thatched, but a few have corrugated metal roofs. A few of the buildings in the village receive electricity from a generator from 7-10PM each night. On each of our trips, all the members of our GV service teams took turns rotating jobs throughout the village, working on labor projects, teaching at one of the local schools, or assisting in the local clinic or remote clinic.
If one of the volunteers had a particular interest or talent to share they were always graciously received and encouraged. For example, when at the vaccination clinic we spent a morning weighing babies, recording the vaccination schedule, and administering the necessary immunizations. Working to assist the doctors and nurses, a bed functioned as our examining table and work surface, while the mothers and children waited patiently for hours on end until we could help each of them. Nervous about teaching, Matt found his niche teaching computer skills at the secondary school, while Jack had a blast teaching conversational English at the primary school. After a successful lesson in the use of with, but, and then, I’ll never forget him trying to teach a group of 40 kids how to play “Heads Up, 7-Up”! Each afternoon after our teaching assignments were done, we worked on labor projects such as painting dorms, or resurfacing the floor of the mess hall. In the past teams built the school library, and put a new roof on the school kitchen that allowed for better ventilation. Until then, kitchen workers had routinely died from prolonged exposure to smoke.
My sons loved refining their masonry skills on the labor projects, learning to take vital signs and the procedures of meat inspection with the village doctor, and most especially, laughing and playing with the children each afternoon. “Priceless” is inadequate to describe the value of these moments in the lives of my children, but I think Jack summed it up beautifully for our team journal:
“When my mother and brother came to Pommern two years ago I couldn’t relate to them about what they experienced while they were here, but now that I have been here I can look back and see the change in them. It is very hard to explain and that is what I am worried about when I am back trying to explain my trip to my friends in America, but it is there.
I didn’t have a dramatic moment when I felt this new perspective become part of my outlook but now I know it is there. It comes from seeing the kids wearing the same clothes day in and day out, from watching the patients at the clinic fight their diseases and injuries with such courage, from watching how the students work hard all day long, and from seeing how Moses sleeps on a bed he made himself with an old torn-up blanket.
I feel like a different person now, and though I miss my friends and family, I never want to leave. I have become attached to the people here and my fellow team members. From the calls of “Jackie Jackie” as I walk through the village, or the warm mandazi while sitting on a bench packed with people watching the World Cup, Pommern has given me much more than I could ever repay, and I am grateful for this. I hope to take what I have learned here back to my day-to-day life in America. I will miss all of you and I hope to see you again.”
My family of five went on the trip to Calderon, Ecuador and it remains one of the best experiences we have ever shared. Global Volunteers was organized and thoughtful throughout the entire process. By the time we left we felt that we'd gained a family among the other volunteers, and the memories we have of the amazing children we worked with are with us every day. My kids, who were ages 8, 10 and 13 at the time of the trip, worked harder than I had ever seen, and enjoyed themselves every step of the way. They still keep photographs of the children they worked with at the center and we plan on doing another trip with Global Volunteers again soon.
Review from Guidestar
I had three wonderful weeks in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. The setting was ideal and out Program Manegers were wonderful. I thought it was very well organized. I felt that we had a meaningful mission. I loved working with the 5 year olds in their school. The people were so friendly and appreciative of anything we could offer. Yes, the price is high, but it is a tax right-off. I'm headed to Ghana with GV in February. katherine