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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Village Volunteers

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Charity & Voluntarism Promotion

Mission: Village Volunteers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization works in partnership with NGO's and CBO's in Africa and Asia to support sustainable solutions to community challenges.

Results: Since 2003, Village Volunteers has grown from a consortium of four community-based organizations in Kenya to 24 partner programs in Ghana, India, Nepal, and Belize. With the support of volunteers and donors around the world, Village Volunteers has: - Built classrooms, dormitories, clinics, libraries and resources centers. - Built a ceramic water filter plant in a village in Kenya that is locally owned and managed that makes 10,000 to 12,000 water filters a year. - Provided tuition for 4 medical school students, 18 in nursing training and 6 teachers. - Supported hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children through youth sponsorships. - Supported the founding and ongoing development of two manufacturing sites for making sanitary pads in India and Kenya. - Supported hundreds of trainings in bio-intensive farming methods, workshops in briquetting, solar cooking, etc. - Developed tree nurseries and demonstration gardens using bio-intensive farming methods. - Provided bicycles to be used as couriers for medical supplies and a host of other necessities for a Masaai community, and set up a bicycle repair business for a youth group. -Developed micro-enterprises for women's cooperatives to mill corn, farm, seed saving, and an array of businesses run and managed by women who have been trained in business acumen.

Target demographics: Village Volunteers does not believe in simply giving aid but partnering with stakeholders who work towards self-sufficiency in rural villages through projects that foster economic and educational opportunities, food security, improved health conditions, public health awareness and support for vulnerable children.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 496 scholarships for school, sanitary supplies for 100's of young girls in school, planted over 1,000 moringa trees, 100 water filters for classrooms, water system and pump to school

Geographic areas served: Kenya, Ghana, India, and Nepal

Programs: - Micro Enterprise Development: supporting self-sufficiency and technical assistance. - The Butterfly Project: Creating a brighter future for young women and their communities by providing college scholarships in nursing and teaching in Kenya. - Sustainable Agriculture: A model for health, practical and sustainable agricultural techniques and programs. - International Volunteer program providing placement that will enhance career and educational goals through internships. - Orphan & Vulnerable Child Support: Providing nurturing support and educational scholarships to orphans and vulnerable children. - Ceramic Water Filter Program: Providing clean water with locally made and resourced water filters making 10-12,000 water filters a year Empowering Women Period - Manufacturing biodegradable sanitary pads with a cooperative of disenfranchised women. The program in India has a staff of ex-sex workers from intergenerational prostitution families and those who had been trafficked as children. The program is called Mukti which means liberated in Sanskrit.

Community Stories

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Fantastic organization reaching out to those in need!
The organization is fully transparent on how they handle donations and recycle...all above board and not wasting anything. Shana is an incredible leader!

Morgan L.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From start to finish, Village Volunteers ensured a meaningful and safe experience. I contacted Village Volunteers looking for a volunteer opportunity that would double as a research project for my Master's in Public Health. Immediately, they were excited about this and asked questions to make sure my school requirements would be fulfilled - which was extremely helpful - besides making sure I was prepared for my experience in Kenya, Africa. Shana, the executive director, offered to have a phone conversation with me to help decide which location would fit best for what I wanted and needed to experience.
This was extremely helpful and so generous of her to share her time like that.
I had my experience volunteering and conducting research with Dandelion Africa, an exceptional grass roots organization that focuses on women's health and empowerment as well as educating school children on topics ranging from self confidence to puberty. Dandelion Africa is an amazing organization and I am so glad that they are partnered with Village Volunteers to give more people the opportunity to see what they are accomplishing.
Throughout the whole experience, Village Volunteers was there for every last minute question and helped me beyond the experience with Dandelion Africa (I traveled elsewhere in Africa after this placement, and Village Volunteers assisted in planning a tour in Nairobi on my way back home, a month later). Every single person I interacted with through Village Volunteers was exceptional - helpful, kind, and supportive of my experience. They would gracious to go above and beyond to ensure my school requirement would be fulfilled, and discussed specific aspects of the experience and research with my school advisor.
An aspect that helped my parents sleep at night, was the amount of effort placed on ensuring safety throughout my experience. Everything was planned with great detail from the minute I landed in Nairobi to arriving to the village Dandelion Africa is located (and back again). I was given all the contact information well in advance and was a part of the discussion on when I was arriving - so everyone was on the same page. While, I did not run into any issues during this experience, I am sure Village Volunteers would have been there to support me through anything and continue to ensure safety at all times.
I can honestly say, I would suggest anyone considering an amazing opportunity abroad to go through Village Volunteers. I will certainly be going through them if I have the opportunity. Thank you, Village Volunteers!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer assisting Village Volunteers with administrative needs, I observed first hand an exceptional example of how an individual (Founder Shana Greene) can grow an international fundraising and support network though tirelessly initiating collaborative endeavors to assist local, community-based efforts in Africa and India (though not exclusively) to develop sustainable educational, economic, agricultural and social programs with excellence in practices. I witnessed how with merely grass roots operations, Village Volunteers reliably provides far reaching results and has been doing so for 15 years, improving the life of many. The Village Volunteers network continues strong because Director Shana Greene proven work engenders confidence that personal efforts are worth-while and monies well spent. It is a treasured satisfaction to contribute to this unique organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love Village Volunteers and the tremendous work it does! It is a well-respected organization with a strong team - Shana, staff, Boards (Directors/Advisers). Founder and Executive Director Shana Greene is a brilliant, kind and compassionate leader. Extremely knowledgeable and dedicated, Shana works with the volunteer to find the ideal placement and prepares them well for the experience. From my first telephone conversation with Shana I knew that I had found the perfect organization through which to volunteer (I had found other volunteer groups online but none had "felt right" until then).

Several years ago I had the honour and privilege of volunteering at Sister Freda's Foundation in Kenya. Program Director Sister Freda is an incredible woman with great passion and vision. After my wonderful experience at Sister Freda's I was inspired to learn more and went on to complete a certificate in International Community Development.

I appreciate the importance Village Volunteers gives to sustainable development, environmental conservation, and social justice. This says so much about who Village Volunteers is as an organization: https://villagevolunteers.org/about-us/mission/

As well as the country programs, Village Volunteers is involved in many life-changing initiatives, one of my favourites being Empowering Women Period (helps girls' education; employs marginalized women; makes use of water hyacinth, an invasive weed) https://villagevolunteers.org/country/sanitary-pad-project/

Volunteering gives us the opportunity to learn about other peoples/cultures, to share ideas, and to learn about ourselves. I am forever grateful to Shana and Sister Freda for my wonderful volunteer experience and for sharing their gifts with the world ... thank you!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Eleven years ago, there were so many volunteer organizations to choose from online, all sounding more or less the same. But when I came across Village Volunteers, I bookmarked it and kept coming back to it. It felt right in every aspect I care about:
- commitment to environmental care both in its administration and its projects on the ground
- local leadership within the communities, not top-down
- multi-faceted goal-focused solutions to community-identified problems
- volunteering would be customized to my skills wherever they fit the communities' needs, per the project partner's discretion
- I would be cared for each step of the way so I could feel safe and fed throughout the trip

Shana, the executive director, and I spoke soon after she received my application. Any concerns I had were immediately resolved. Aside from her confidently answering all my questions and talking me through the process, I had a gut feeling about her and Village Volunteers that I can trust her completely.

Those few weeks in Kenya in June 2007 changed my life.

I know most people say that about their first volunteer experience anyway, so I don't need to go on about how my worldview had shifted and I am still friends with the people I met there. But I am now much older and had since traveled the world over, including with Village Volunteers five more times, a couple other organizations just to compare, and other places where there are typically volunteers on my own.

Hands down, Village Volunteers always came out best, with the most integrity, care for its volunteers, and success in its partnered programs. Actual, physical proof of success, as in, there were more children and people fed and educated, gaining access to healthcare, and finding long-term business and agricultural benefit. Every cent and resource were always put to good use by its local leaders, and often multiplied so that the gains became self-sustaining.

A few years ago, I endeavored to establish my own non-profit to partner with Village Volunteers. It was as eye-opening as it was intense. It gave me another level of respect for the extremely hard work Shana and her team put in. I even attended seminars and conferences on evidence-based practice in international development work, and Village Volunteers, not surprisingly, has been doing it right from the beginning.

I cannot stress this enough - Village Volunteers is the best nonprofit organization I've ever come across doing the work they do. I support them financially and wholeheartedly, and will be volunteering with them again the next chance I get.

1 Tori P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I cannot say enough good things about Village Volunteers (VV). They sent me on a 10-week, trip of a lifetime to Kenya. From the application, acceptance, planning, traveling and volunteering processes, VV was with me through it all. They listened to my passions, and placed me in a few different communities within Kenya. One thing I love about this organization is that no two VV trips look the same. You can go alone or with a group. VV places volunteers in communities where they can best use their strengths. VV set up my travel plans for me, and everything was seamless from arriving to Kenya and traveling to the different communities. VV was accessible to me in Kenya in case I ever needed help or had questions. I fell in love with the people of Kenya. I served in three different communities and met so many innovative and amazing Kenyan leaders. On my trip, I was able to teach first aid in the school setting and at some rural women's groups. I volunteered in several rural medical clinics, played outside with lots of children, provided first aid care in the school setting and so much more. I also was able to go on an incredible safari and taxied over to Uganda to explore for a weekend. It is hard to capture this amazing experience in a short review, but if you have a heart for adventure and serving, I would highly recommend a trip with VV. I am forever changed from my experience with them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Village Volunteers and their project Empowering Women Period is helping girls and women in India and Kenya gain access to sanitary pads! But that’s not even the best part, women from the local areas are employed to make these pads. These are really miracle pads in every way, giving new options and new hope to women and girls who need it.

I organized a fundraising event for the Empowering Women Period project and it was a night to celebrate women! We had a silent auction and other donations and prizes and the whole event was around celebrating women. Everyone at the event was wowed by the full circle design of the project and it was a fabulous evening of women celebrating and supporting one another.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We love Village Volunteers not because we participated as a volunteer, but as parents of a volunteer. Our daughter had the extraordinary experience of volunteering in Kenya. Not once, but three times. It was a life changing experience for her. She had the unique opportunity to meet and work alongside Sister Freda, Joshua at the Pathfinder Academy and Emmanuel with Namunyak Maasai Welfare project. Our daughter fell in love with Kenya and her people. As a result of her experiences through this organization and meeting incredible human beings dedicated to making the world a better place, our entire family has become involved in giving and fund raising for VV. Shana and her staff at VV were available not just for our daughter, but her family for any questions or concerns we had during the whole process. We felt confident that our daughter was in good hands. Thanks VV for all of the hard work you do. Parents of a Volunteer . . . Pam & John H.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked for Village Volunteers for many summers during my college years. Shana is a truly incredible leader; she is kind, fair, and always prioritizes her work and helping others above all else. She has grown VV into an incredible non profit with massive global reach doing incredible work that is much needed. My favorite memory as an intern was working on the water hyacinth sanitary pad project. It was innovative, and tackled multiple issues simultaneously: water hyacinth is an invasive weed, and by removing it and using the fibers to produce sanitary pads, women were able to access hygiene products needed for them to attend school and boost education levels overall. VV has always engaged in important projects such as this, and has not only done the work, but helped expose people who otherwise would not know about these issues to what is happening in the world.

1 Serrieh H.

Donor

Rating: 5

Village volunteers is one of the best organizations nationally and internationally because it focuses on promoting self growth within different Villages around the world. They approach it from a holistic standpoint, paying great respect to the people in need so that their traditions and Heritage is honored while also expanding and improving their quality of life.

The founder Shana Greene is one of the most compassionate and passion-driven leaders amongst her time. Her lifelong dedication has brought to light so many projects that help women, children and men in need.

This is by far one of the best Grassroots organizations of all time!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been an admirer of Village Volunteers for many years and have shown support through multiple donations. This is a straight up honorable organization that provides much needed support and guidance to needy populations, particularly women. I will continue to support the amazing work of VV!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In July I joined a team in Kenya at Common Ground for Africa. It was the first of what I am hopeful will be more experiences through this organization. The planning, preparation and management of this 19-day volunteer experience was superbly executed by the VV staff right down to the finest details!

Upon our return to the U.S. our fundraising , grant seeking and sponsorship efforts for CGA have continued. The support, enthusiasm and dedication of Shana and her team have made these endeavors less complicated.

While my team does not plan to return to CGA for another four years, I am hopeful to return before then and would only consider volunteering through VV. While I have been home for close to 80 days, I left my heart behind with 450 children, endless villagers provided with healthcare and a team of staff and volunteers at Pathfinder that I think of many times a day. My life has been forever changed by this treasured experience.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have never worked with an organization that's as authentic to its core values in execution of programs and volunteer services as Village Volunteers. VV's generosity and high attention to every aspect of volunteer program tailoring comes from the top-down, through the Executive Director, Shana Greene's caring involvement in liaising between country partners and volunteers (and their concerned families, if need be). VV's long-time partners in India, Kenya and Nepal are thoroughly vetted, sincere local community organizations working in sustainable development endeavors. In my own interaction with VV's partnering organizations, I found that the country coordinators cared deeply for volunteers' safety, health, and overall positive, enriching experience. Working with VV also led to my personal growth, as I learned more about the challenges + nuances of sustainable development practices, and the diversity of human cultural experience. For anyone looking for an authentic volunteer experience abroad, I would highly recommend going with Village Volunteers.

1 Lindsay Grace K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went to Kenya last summer with my boyfriend. We were both only 18, so it was a pretty scary experience. This organization prepared us for anything we could have expected. They answered all our questions and were always available whenever we needed anything. They matched us with an organization that was able to give us both some good experience (him with business and me with special needs kids). They checked up on us while we were gone, and kept in contact after we got back. Truly a life changing experience I would recommend to anyone.

2 Holly H.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our team has worked with Shana and the Village Volunteers staff since 2009 and cannot say enough good things about them! We have traveled four times with teams of 6-14 people to the Common Ground for Africa site in western Kenya that Village Volunteers supports. The VV team handles all the logistics of room, food and transportation seamlessly. That enables the team to focus on getting things done and achieving our goals. Without their help, we would have to spend countless hours doing this work ourselves and would lack the connections to do it so smoothly.

In addition, the people that Village Volunteers partners with are truly great people! Director Joshua Machinga at Common Ground for Africa dedicates countless hours and resources to children, women and widows. The more recent addition of Empowering Women Period, a biodegradable sanitary pad project in India and now Kenya, has added even more game-changers to the equation.

I can wholeheartedly endorse Village Volunteers as a non-profit that truly sacrifices for the good of others, is intensely service-oriented and in whom I can reliably place my trust to "get things done"!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's been 11 years since I had the pleasure of volunteering with Village Volunteers in Kenya. I remember filling out the online application and the next day receiving a phone call from Executive Director Shana Greene. Over the course of multiple phone calls she asked various questions and recommended a program offering that would most align with my interests. As a freshmen in college, I was so fortunate that I came across Village Volunteers during such formative years of developing my philosophy of international development. From the first conversation with Shana, this experience was framed as a learning experience for me and not a traditional volunteer experience where I'd have unknowingly false expectations that I'd "make the world a better place" on this short 5 week trip. Instead, I was prepared to learn from local leaders and community members the challenges they faced, the solutions they had, and the obstacles they encountered to implement some of those solutions. My experience with Village Volunteers kick started my belief in community-driven, community-demanded, and community-lead solutions in a global and domestic context. This framing alone is why I continue to support Village Volunteers in all their efforts. They are on the cutting edge of dismantling the Western Savior Complex that is far too prevalent in the international development community. Having worked for domestic and international volunteer programs after my time with Village Volunteers, they continue to be the gold standard of my personal experiences and I've strived to adapt programming at other organizations to model that of Village Volunteers. For those seeking to understand the complexities of international development, learn about creative local solutions, and learn from extraordinary local leaders then Village Volunteers is the program for you.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Village Volunteers has been helping women and children in some of the poorest countries in the world for nearly 15 years. VV partners with outstanding leaders of grassroots organizations in those countries to help them reach their goals, including women's empowerment, children's education, and economic self-sufficiency. VV does this by placing qualified volunteers in those organizations for weeks at a time, promoting goodwill between cultures and in the process providing needed funds. Those volunteers typically go home and raise funds to further the work of their hosts. I've seen firsthand VV's work with Common Ground in Kiminini, Kenya, where an extraordinary leader has built a first-rate elementary school and girls' high school, while teaching the children and their parents (mothers) sustainable farming methods to increase their nutritional intake in this rural area. Several children who have come through Common Ground's PathFinder Academy have gone on to graduate from university. None of this would have happened without the funding and, more importantly, technical assistance, from Shana Greene, executive director of Village Volunteers.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I first encountered Village Volunteers when I volunteered as a physician at one of their partner villages in Kenya in 2006. My teenage daughter, one of her friends, my best friend and I spent a remarkable time--just over 2 weeks--in a remote Kenyan village on Lake Victoria. I have continued to support and respect the work of Village Volunteers, becoming a member of the Board of Directors over 10 years ago. In that time we have been integrally involved in educating Kenyan women to become teachers and nurses, setting up sanitary pad manufacturing cooperatives in India and Kenya, starting ceramic water filter production in Kenya. All these projects and many more are run by the groups that they benefit and have lasting benefit for their communities. Our overhead is remarkably low, our supporters passionate and dedicated, and our goals and values of the highest caliber.

1 Kit B.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

brilliant experience with VV. excellent, well researched projects. loved living in with local families and excellent communication before and during the project. sustainable projects really fit with my values and helped me feel I was making a difference.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with Village Volunteers on some economic empowerment projects and had such a great experience that I decided to go into nonprofit work. In addition to working on some meaningful and exciting small business projects, I got to spend quality time with my wonderful host families and learned a great deal about Kenyan culture. I highly recommend this experience to anyone looking into volunteering abroad!