Projects Abroad — irresponsible agent
Despite the amazing reviews from other volunteers of projects abroad, I am devastated to say I have a really horrible one. I was recommended by a friend about this volunteer agent and similar like others, I was expecting a good experience with them. I am a 16 years old international student from indonesia who lives in new york which means my parents are not in usa and in fact, I live in my school’s dorm. To fill in my 3 months summer break, I decided to enroll for a summer volunteer program and had done enough research about projects abroad. I was in contact with their staff named laura before I enroll and I was told that she resigned. I called the central number to ask questions about the requirements of the project and was told to call directly the belize embassy about the visa. The belize embassy told me that I will not need visa to enter belize as I have a us student visa (F4). Projects abroad told me that everything was set and I was ready to enroll. On june 15th 2017, after nearly 4 months asking questions about the project, I finally enrolled to the community and conservation project in belize. It was kind of last minute but I have it all prepared before the project started on june 19th 2017. I was in contact with the volunteer advisor, carlos orozco, who will prepare me for my departure on the 19th. He was the one who told me the requirements and the packing list as well as the one who connected me with the projects abroad travel team about my flight arrangements. I was planned to depart on the 18th using united airlines from new york laguardia to houston and get a connecting flight to belize and then to placencia. I have prepared everything and packed everything needed for my project (This means all the legal documents and the materials that projects abroad told me) before I departed. Projects abroad emailed me the e-tickets and itinerary and also mentioned that I will only need a copy of my passport and the copy of the e-ticket in order to board the airplane and that someone will be outside the airport in belize when I arrived. They told me that they already have many underage volunteers like me beforehand and everything went well. I went to the airport at 3 am in the morning and was not allowed to check in and board by united airlines because I was missing a notarized parent consent (Notarized not electrically signed) which is required by the belize government in order for a minor like me to travel. I was surprised and confused as projects abroad didn’t tell me anything about the notarized legal consent. I called the emergency number of projects abroad immediately and a staff told me to wait as she will contact the center which is still closed because it was still 3 am in the morning. I had to wait in the airport for 4 hours alone and none of the projects abroad staffs called me. The emergency staff told me that she will try to change my flights and move me to another project which is mexico or argentina which my father didn’t allow me because I was left alone at that time. Projects abroad said that they never had this issue beforehand and they will try to have a meeting with the immigration of belize as they didn’t know anything about the notarized legal consent which is a regulation that belize government made. However, what I really disappointed in is they havent contacted me until now. Carlos orozco, the volunteer advisor contacted me so often before, demand me for the full payment however after the problem arose, he never contacted me not even once. My brother also emailed him (Carlos), the center email ([protected]@projectsabroad), and the travel team however, none of them replied. My father had to call all the way from indonesia to mexico and uk to speak with the ceo as none of the staffs contacted me. I am very disappointed in how they work. They are, indeed, a big agent however this shouldn’t make them feel less responsible of this matter. For other volunteers who want to enroll with them, please be aware.
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