Projects Abroad — false advertising
Getting to the island was so scary. I was put on a bus with no other English speakers and told my trip would be 3 hours long, 8 hours later with no food we got to a beach where I was told to get out and ushered onto a small wooden boat that looked like it would sink. Luckily I survived the trip to the island.
The accommodation and bathrooms were so unhygienic I got sick almost immediately. There's no septic system so you have to put all of your used toilet paper in a opened bin beside the toilet which is in the same room as the shower facilities. There's nowhere to wash your hands and to flush the toilet your pour water down the bowl.
I also have a pre-existing medical condition that I was told I would be able to manage over there until I arrived and found the medical facilities on the island were very basic and almost non existent. I was apparently not the first person worried about this as diving is a dangerous activity and can require medical attention. I was also worried when I found out not one staff member knew first aid.
The staff are very friendly at first then become immediately standoffish on the second day. The only time they lighten up is when they are drinking which is most nights.
I'm a young person and enjoy a drink or few but not every night. I also felt very out of place because some of the people in charge were younger than I was and were almost only interested in sleeping with the volunteers. Even though most of the volunteers were already sleeping together or had done in the past.
There are posters all over the accommodation that state no drugs on the program. This couldn't be further from the truth. Almost every volunteer was smoking marijuana and taking pills every day and would come back to the house out of their brains. Not to mention certain staff felt it okay to supply the volunteers with drugs and were happy to do it with them.
There was also very little conservation work happening at all. Volunteers could work on their "own projects" which mostly consisted of us watching movies or reading each other's books. Only a few volunteers had actually collected any relevant data while most of them had not even researched anything, we just tagged along on the dives.
I also didn't even see a seahorse in my time on the island. I was told they'd seen 4 seahorses but I find that hard to believe.
The food was very mediocre to poor quality. If you don't like rice, don't go. That's what I survived on and occasionally ate fish. The chicken was disgusting and pork often still had skin and hair attached as well as parts of bones. There were so many times when no one even knew what the meat was. There are so restaurants on the island that do amazing food though so I recommend those.
There is no interaction with the community other than the children saying hello every time you walk by. I was advertised that we would be teaching and interacting with children as well as teaching them about conservation only to find this was never a part of the program.
When I left not one person from projects abroad contacted me or even saw me to the airport. I was simply put in a taxi and dropped off.
Two weeks after I returned home the project manager emailed me and asked how I was as they hadn't heard from me, they weren't even aware that I had returned home.
For the amount of money you pay it's definitely not worth it. Apparently a girl left before I got there, she changed her flights home. I wish I was fortunate enough to do that because I would have gotten out of there in the first week.
On the plus side:
I made some amazing friends who were equally as disgusted as I was at the organisation and overall let down of the program.
I also enjoyed the experience of seeing another country and culture.
I would not however recommend this to anyone unless they are into 'cheap drugs and alcohol' and watching movies every day and going for the occasional dive.
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