• Report: #1050632

Complaint Review: Pennies for Papa

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  • Submitted: Mon, May 13, 2013
  • Updated: Wed, May 15, 2013

  • Reported By: PaulaB — Arlington Massachusetts
Pennies for Papa
Internet Thailand

Pennies for Papa Lies about providing free english lessons to children in the Akha Village Chiang Mai Thailand

*UPDATE Employee: News from a current student

*Author of original report: Carol agrees with my report.............

*REBUTTAL Individual responds: Response to Allegations

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I signed up in January 2013 to participate in a 90 day volunteer program in Thailand through a foundation called Pennies for Papa.  In exchange for my "donation" of $1900, I was to receive 90 days of westernized lodging, living in an Akha Village, 2 meals a day prepared by culinary students and overseen by a Culinary Instructor, online TESOL certification program, mentorship in Teaching English in an English Emersion Center for the children, and so much more.  The premise of the foundation was that the organization offered free english lessons to children living in the Akha Village and at the same time offered volunteers a unique opportunity to live/volulnteer among the tribe members, learn a new culture and have the opportunity to travel.

Soon after I registered and paid my "donation", the website changed, the Village was being closed for "renovations", all volunteers were moved to Chiang Rai.  When I arrived, I was brought to a Guest House on the outskirts of town with no transportation, he removed all the A/C controls so that we lived in stifling hot conditions (over 100 degees F every day), there was no teaching internship, or culinary program or students......  We were left on our own to fend for ourselves.  Once we asked for transportation, he provided a beat up old truck with no gas.  

Although decent housing in Chiang Rai can be found for under $200 a month and meals can be cooked/bought for about $5 a day/per person, the food budget was $1.50 / day for each volunteer.  I don't know where/how the money I gave him was used.  Within a week of my arrival, I learned that the Village would no longer be active, yet he was building additional housing accommodations, and the house we were living in (he signed a multi-year contract which he broke after 3 months) would be shut down at the end of April.  My program was scheduled to run 3/27 - 6/22. 

Now, the website has been redone, yet again, as another iteration of Pennies for Papa.  This time, the only location option is Chiang Mai.  The whole structure has changed but he is still saying that the money from the foundation will be used to hire teachers to now go to the Village and teach the children...............

Bigger issue is that he has donation boxes all around Thailand.  He collects the money and uses it for himself.  The children of the Village are not served at all.

In Summary, Rock Owen is a liar, a cheat, and a thief.  His webmaster, Carol (carol@penniesforpapa.com) is aware of all of this, yet she knowingling and willingly continues to work and suport the fraudulant activities. 


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 05/13/2013 02:54 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Pennies-for-Papa/internet/Pennies-for-Papa-Lies-about-providing-free-english-lessons-to-children-in-the-Akha-Villa-1050632. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
1Author 1Consumer 1Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

News from a current student

AUTHOR: Josh K - ()

Hello,

My name is Josh K*** and I am a current student at Pennies for Papa. I am here getting my TESOL online, while volenteering at the Pennies for Papa shcool. (4 pm Elementary, then 6 pm for the middle and high school) I am an avid traveler of the US and now super stoked to be traveling abroad. (just got my passport in September!) Pennies for Papa did a great job providing me with the nessasary visa beurocracy. - I arrived on the 10th of November and was greeted by Rock at the airport. My accomidations are awesome. I have a private room and private bathroom, its comfy and clean.

I am here to get a TESOL so I can teach abroad. I am also recieving awesome job training as a teaching volenteer. I am free do whatever. There is a monastary up the street and I am going to be giving the monks private lessons. I am doing this on my own accord just for more job training.

The head teacher here is Francis, who has over 20 years of teaching experience.  I enjoy watching him work. He makes the lessons fun.  He also helps me with any TESOL questions I have. ESL is his life and is a great guy.

I havent been scammed at all and Im actually stoked to be getting a great deal. I did alot of research before hand. Seattle University charges 6,000 bux for thier intensive month long ESL course, Which doesnt even include job training. Even if you Include airfair I am paying about 1/3rd of that. To me this is the best deal ever.

I am sad when reading this post on "Rip Off Report" From what I have seen , none of this stuff is true, Laura is going above and beyond a regular complaint and heading into the slander zone.  Laura did you ever finish your TESOL or did you flake out and are now trying to blame everyone but yourself?

Monday through Friday I see a classroom full of kids smiling, having fun and learning English.

The online TESOL is hard. Its also very tedious.  I work on it around 6 to 8 hours a day. This isnt a free fun ride.

Also, be preparred for a culture shock This aint Kansas!!

I am having a blast and for me this has been a great experience. My only huge complaint is there are not more TESOL students here.(This term there are only 2 of us!) Lauras post actually has affected attendance!! What a bummer!!! ---

For me, I highly recomend coming to Thailand and getting a TESOL at Pennies for Papa.

After the TESOL I would like to work somewhere in South East Asia for the Winter/Spring then get my butt to Ukraine.

So this is sink or swim for me. No its not easy. But I have to do it. I refuse to work menial jobs that I hate. No more Walmart, or dumb construction gigs. This is my life and I am doing something meaningful with it.

(((email redacted)))

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#2 Author of original report

Carol agrees with my report.............

AUTHOR: PaulaB - ()

So, Carol agrees with my description/experience, admits the difficult time.  Really!!!! You should be ashamed of yourself! 

Your foundation is a work in progress - ha!  that isn't how it was presented to me and that doesn't mean you can take advantage of hard working people trying to make a difference in the world.  I live a meager existence too. 

Regardless of what you say is going to happen in the future, I still suffered a huge financial loss and do not want anyone else to take any chances on this as there are so many other opportunities to volunteer in Thailand. And, who says the same BS will not occur going forward.  

I was not given an opportunity to cancel.  My money was used to renovate the Village and provide for the living expenses for the Founder.  That is not how I expected my hard earned money to be used.

I signed up for a 90 day program - I paid $1500 for a RT airline ticket, $1900 to Pennies for Papa, hundreds of dollars towards travel insurance, shots, visas, etc. 

I was reimbursed under $700.  If P4P wants to reimburse me for the balance of the program and other monies owed, via Paypal, then I will update this RipOff status and let people know. 

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#3 REBUTTAL Individual responds

Response to Allegations

AUTHOR: ccdeleo - ()

A complaint was filled against Pennies for Papa and allegations made against me which I feel obliged to respond to.

The complaintant has every right to her description of her experience with us, we admit we were going through a difficult time which was why we gladly refunded and apoligized

Our Website has been changing, that is true.  We continue to refine and try to improve our program. Our goal remains the same – coordinate people who want to teach English with free community English class students.

 We have been in close contact with those who have registered with us and have advised them of changes prior to re-publishing our website with an option to cancel.

 We have refocused our program on what is important:

 

  • Organizing free English classes within the community, and
  • Providing guidance and support to the volunteer teachers who may or may not be working towards their TESOL Certificate.

We will be opening in June with our first Chiang Mai Session. We are very excited to announce our first project will be working with the school at Wat Ched Jod. The school has 160 children in six classes, ages 7 - 12. We will also be working towards a class for the adults in the community who have a desire to learn English, as well as a class for the Monks. But we need your help to do it. And then we want to open another project as our volunteer team grows.

In the Village plans are proceeding to hire our first teacher. We have other plans under development so yes, our website will likely change a little again in the future.  We are a grassroots organization, trying to make headway in fulfilling our goals and reaching our dreams.

I have been working with Pennies for Papa as a volunteer for a little over a year. I have witnessed the sacrifices that have been made, and what this Foundation has experienced, the good, the bad and the ugly. I have seen continual forward movement, even after a few setbacks.

I have observed the meager lifestyle of Rock and Miba, and have seen nothing but dedication from each of them.  The reason I support Pennies for Papa is I believe in the vision of what can be, and I see Rock and Miba as being committed to getting there.

We welcome all fluent/native English speakers to join us. The only thing we ask is that you come with an open heart prepared to be living in a foreign country and that you are willing to adapt to the culture and not expect the culture to adapt to you.

Carol Culver De Leo

carol@penniesforpapa.com

Webmaster, Volunteer Coordinator, Chauffeur, Marketing Assistant, Email Responder,

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