My Nonprofit Reviews
Taamnga Ec W.
Review for All Hands Volunteers, Mattapoisett, MA, USA
I spent a total of about 3 months working with All Hands on Project Leogane in Haiti. The first time was for 3 weeks and that just wasn't enough, so I returned for about another 9 weeks at the end of last year. I love All Hands because it gives ordinary people a chance to help out after disasters by working side by side with local people from the affected area. Based on my experience in Haiti, I see that All Hands really values and knows how to foster positive workable associations with local volunteers, organizations and businesses. I think this is an important part of why All Hands' projects are so successful--because they know what is really going on in the area because they are listening to local people and designing their response according to local needs. I would definitely work with All Hands again if there was a project rather near to where I lived. I have already recommended them to several people. I also agree with the previous poster Charlie P. (my co-volunteer in Haiti), that rather than flying halfway around the world to volunteer for two weeks, one's money is probably better spent by donating directly to All Hands or another disaster organization. But on the other hand, by affording us this opportunity to do real recovery work after a disaster while developing relationships with Haitians (or those of other countries) we provide a less tangible benefit for the country: we talk to our friends and families about what the situation is like on the ground and help to keep the story alive. Haiti still has a long way to go in the recovery effort and those of us who care see how little media coverage there is 2+ years after the earthquake. I don't know if "fostering intercultural understanding" is officially part of All Hands' mission, but in practice this is happening and is one of the positives of this organization.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
review their dispute resolution process. I think there needs to be a better established process that is clearly laid out for all to see, with the possibility for all who are involved in a dispute to have their voices heard (with non-biased interpreters provided if necessary). I'm not sure that All Hands has taken enough steps or done enough training with staff to be sure that these types of decisions are not made arbitrarily or based on personality issues, rather than based on the facts of the case.
Would you volunteer for this group again?
For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?
Did the organization use your time wisely?
Would you recommend this group to a friend?
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?
Improve scheduling and communication of the shuttles that they hire to pick up people at the airport. I had two experiences with this process and both times, the driver was either not wearing an All Hands t-shirt or sent someone else to wait at the exit. They also did not have a sign with my name. Also, be sure that the vehicle coming to meet 4 people has room for 4 plus their luggage, not for only 2 people. It is important to have clear info about transport as it's stressful when first arriving in a new country.
Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)
I got to put my previously learned skills in biosand water filter construction to use and this was a good review. I learned how fun and challenging it can be to work with cement to build (render) walls. I made lots of wonderful friends, both Haitians and "internationals" from a number of countries.
How did this volunteer experience make you feel?
happy, challenged, and sometimes tired from an honest day's work