Posts Tagged abroad
Volunteer Abroad Scams
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Volunteers who are abroad like other travelers are bound to fall victim of scams. There are people who are out there looking for ways to take advantage of unsuspecting travelers. They come up with lies and scams to steal money from volunteers who are abroad. As an international volunteer it is wise to be aware of the scams are out there and to avoid them. This article is to help current and potential volunteers to avoid being scammed or taken advantage of while they are abroad. Here are common scams and how to avoid them when the volunteers are going abroad:
Volunteer service organizations
Volunteer service organizations; companies; ethical travel companies; travel agents are all great organizations that help individuals to go to volunteer abroad. They take care of everything for the volunteers, from accommodation, meals to the project they will be working in. For the volunteers who agree to use these organizations should be cautious as there are organizations out there that run scams. These organizations come up with volunteer programs or projects that have no value to the volunteers. They charge volunteers high fees and they leave the volunteer to take care of themselves. The volunteers find themselves in a host country without any support, poor services and dealing with unprofessionalism. To avoid such scams, the volunteers should vet each organization that they choose to use carefully, talk to past volunteers and listen to other peoples recommendations.
Every traveler has fallen victim to this scam. This scam is common because many of the volunteers are new to the country and they are not aware of the fares. This normally happens when they board a taxi and they are overcharged by the driver. The common lies the taxi driver tells volunteers are the meter is broken; doesnt take the volunteer to his destination claiming that they have forgotten where the place is; and they inflate the taxi fare. To avoid these scams: use a reputable company; use taxi stands; go by the meter; ask a tourist or a hotel, hostel for fares and recommendations; get the price upfront before boarding; and carry small bills. Apart from taxi scams, volunteers might have problems paying for fares in public or private buses. The conductors and the drivers conspire to overcharge the volunteers. To avoid this before the volunteers boards the bus they should find out how much it costs and carry small bills only.
Credit card scams
This happens everywhere but it is more common in Europe. These scams occur when the volunteer swipes his credit card on a tiny machine which records information from the cards magnetic strip. These machines are cheap and easy to buy. With the volunteers information fraudsters or scammers wait for a couple of months and they start swindling money from the volunteers or in some cases they start swindling money as soon as possible. The people who are behind the scams are waiters and shopkeepers. Other ways of credit card scams are through: stolen credit cards, ATMs which swallow credit cards; and fraudulent people who stand by ATMs claiming to be bank officials. To avoid being scammed this way, the volunteers should use credit cards as opposed to debit cards because it is easier to recover the money that has been lost. In addition, the volunteers should immediately report any stolen cards and suspicious activity of their bank accounts.
When the volunteer is about to buy an item they should realize that the seller will try to take advantage for them because they are foreigners. The shopkeepers normally inflate the price up to four times because they know the volunteers do not know the actual price. As a result the volunteers should always haggle or negotiate to get the best price. As a principle the volunteers should ask for a quarter of the asking price this way the seller will know they are not new to that place. Also the volunteer should say they have been to that country a number of times and that they are new to the area.
Volunteer Abroad Organizations
There are a number of organizations that provide volunteer travel services. These volunteer service organizations could be for profit and not for profit. There is no big difference between the two, unless you live in the USA where your trip could be tax deductable. Most of the organizations provide you with somewhere to work, a school, hospital, or orphanage; and somewhere to stay: a group home, hostel, hotel and a home stay. They arrange everything for you and offer you full support during your stay in the host country. Other organizations offer transport to and from the project location, while some just offer you a place to work while you organize where you will stay. Depending on where you want to go and how much money you have there is a huge list of volunteer travel organizations to choose from. As the industry is fairy new there are no rules or guidelines that govern these organizations in their new industry. There is also no umbrella body in which these organizations fall under whereby you can check an organizations credibility or also to complain to. When you are planning your volunteer abroad trip here are a list of volunteer abroad organizations to use:
Volunteer Capital Centre
Volunteer Capital Centre (VCC) is an organization that is based in the UK. They provide quality and affordable volunteer abroad work programs in third world countries. The volunteers will be placed in nonprofit organizations, community based organizations, faith based organizations, and government agencies. They make the process of making volunteering in third world countries a safe and comfortable as possible procedure. They provide their volunteer programs in Africa.
Cross Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) is an international not-for-profit volunteer organization offering short term programs in 12 different countries and 20 different sites ranging from 1 to 12 weeks. CCS is a recognized leader in the field of international volunteering and work with sustainable community initiatives abroad. It is based in USA.
Amizade Places individuals and groups with community projects in ten countries, from Australia and Brazil to Tanzania and the United States. Most service trips are short (about three weeks) but both alternative breaks for college students and long-term projects can be arranged. Volunteers pay for all of their expenses and a percentage of the cost of the project on which they will volunteer. The organization is based in Australia.
A Broader View Volunteers is a 501(c)(3) based non-profit organization based in Pennsylvania. With a love for humankind, and a motivated spirit to help others, A Broader View was created on the belief that one person can make a difference in the lives of others. Our US office is operated by an enthusiastic staff with almost 20 years combined travel and hospitality experience.
BUNAC offers a range of exciting summer camp, work abroad and volunteer abroad programmes. Established in 1962, BUNAC is a non-profit work and travel expert and has been helping young people work and volunteer abroad for 48 years. Popular BUNAC destinations include: USA, Canada, New Zealand, Ghana, Australia, Britain, China, South Africa and many more.
Students Partnership Worldwide
This British organization runs four- to nine-month volunteer programs in India, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. All volunteers receive intensive training (up to six weeks) before working together in teams in rural communities, raising awareness of important health and environmental issues. Participants must be aged 18 to 28 years, and pay fees for each program; SPW offers fundraising advice. The basic cost of a placement ranges from 2900 to 3300, including air fare.
Volunteer Abroad Associations
The world is hugged by the faithful arms of volunteers. ~Terri Guillemets. There are many organizations that plan volunteer vacations for travelers. They are numbered in their hundreds and many travelers wonder whether the organization they are going to use is a scam or a fraud. This is especially true with newer organizations which dont have a previous track record. To help out potential volunteers who are going abroad, the volunteer travel companies have formed associations which try to set up standards for volunteer travel companies. These associations have websites that show a list of credible and weed out the scam volunteer travel organizations according to their standards. The standards set vary from association to association, like for example the amount for the yearly contribution varies; there should be a physical office in a particular country and minimum age of the volunteer travel organization. Note these associations do warn they are not accountable and liable to the behavior of the volunteer travel organizations. Here are a couple of associations that help volunteers:
GoAbroad was launched to fill an information void in the area of international student travel. It was conceptualized to provide a one-stop information center for students wishing to travel internationally. The site was created to link prospective travelers with organizations providing international opportunities. It is committed to providing the most comprehensive international education and alternative travel databases. GoAbroad.com utilizes data driven programming to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information. In addition to some of the largest directories of their kind on the internet, it provides extensive additional information within its dynamically constructed travel guides, currency converter, and embassy directories. It is dedicated to providing this information in a clean and less-commercial format.
Year out group
The Year Out Group is an association of leading year out organizations that was formed in 1998 to promote the concept and benefits of well-structured year out programs, to promote models of good practice and to help young people and their advisers in selecting suitable and worthwhile projects. The Year Out Group is a not-for-profit organization. The suggestions and guidelines included on their web site have been produced by the Year Out Group and are intended both for people planning a gap year and parents, teachers and other advisers that may have an interest in helping people select a suitable and worthwhile project. The Year Out Group is an association of independent organizations and exists to promote the concept and benefits of well-structured year out programs. It does not however organize or arrange year out programs itself.
International Volunteer Program Association
The International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) is an association of non-governmental organizations involved in international volunteer work and internship exchanges. IVPA is an association of volunteer sending organizations but does not organize or run its own volunteer programs. They stand for responsibility in the field of international volunteer abroad programs. Their members are expected to uphold the IVPA’s principles and practices as guidelines for good programming as well as meet stringent membership criteria. IVPA can serve as a guide to anyone considering volunteering abroad or developing international service opportunities. This includes but is not limited to prospective volunteers, newly created volunteer sending organizations, corporations, and colleges and universities.
VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. Our popular service welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 75,000 nonprofit organizations.
True Travellers Society was developed out of frustration with the volunteer in Asia, volunteer in Africa, volunteer in South or Central America, but first pay us lots of money organizations. The aim of our organization is to connect people with no or minimal fee meaningful travel and volunteer travel opportunities around the globe. We have created a central location where this information can be shared for free.