Many people have the same questions when thinking about traveling with us. Below, we've prepared a list of common questions that we receive to help you further understand the volunteer experience. After reading the FAQs, if you still have questions, send us an email at email@example.com and we would be happy to provide additional details.
Who Can Volunteer?
Q: Do I Have To Have a Certain Skill Set To Volunteer?
A: No! We welcome volunteers from all walks of life to participate in our programs. Because of our year-round programming and clinical services, there are always projects that need to be accomplished. We have extensive experience hosting non-medical volunteers - film students, IT Specialists, journalists. We are more than happy to coordinate a unique experience based on your skill set and interests, as well as the needs of the project site!
Q: What Are The Pre-Requisites For Volunteering Abroad?
A: We welcome all interested individuals to participate in the volunteer program, as we believe that everyone with a passion for children’s health has something valuable to contribute. Our volunteers come from universities, graduate programs, hospitals, and other professional backgrounds. We will take clinical, professional and academic experiences into account when planning volunteer itineraries.
It is important to note that we strive to provide quality medical care comparable to the care found in the US, so we will work only within the capacity that you are qualified. If you have a strong preference for a medical focus, health education or other facet of our program please indicate this on your enrollment forms and feel free to inform our team. We ask that you are flexible and help out where needed at the volunteering site, but we'll also work to meet your needs within the existing programming.
Q: Can I Volunteer Alone Or Do I Need To Travel With A Group?
A: We gladly welcome individual and group volunteers to our project sites. If you are traveling alone and would like to try and coordinate with a group that will be traveling, contact us with your preferred site and available dates and we will try and place you with a group. If you choose to volunteer alone, you will still be working alongside our staff and community members, as you are accompanied by FIMRC staff during volunteer activities for a more enriching experience.
Q: Do You Host Students For Alternative Spring Breaks?
A: Yes! Spring break season is one of our busiest and most vibrant times of the year for the volunteering program, with student-level group activities planned for all weeks of the spring. Spots fill up fast for these weeks, so please contact us well in advance with the dates of your break to arrange a placement.
Q: Is It Necessary To Speak A Foreign Language To Volunteer?
A: We don't require you to possess foreign language skills to be able to participate in the Global Health Volunteer Program. At all of our project sites, we have bilingual staff members who are there to help translate. It goes with saying that your experience is greatly enhanced if you are able to communicate in the native language or if you are willing to step outside your comfort zone in order to try and communicate.
Planning a Volunteer Trip
Q: I'm Interested In Going On A Trip Abroad. How Do I Get More Info?
A: Our Global Health Volunteer Program is currently active at our sites in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, India and Uganda. Please visit us here to learn more about the project sites and where we work.
Q: What Are The Dates For The Volunteer Trips?
A: We operate our project sites year-round, so we're happy to host you any week of the year.
Q: How Far Ahead Should I Plan My Trip?
A: We accept participants to our program on a rolling basis. However, if you do not book far enough in advance, it may be difficult for us to accommodate your requested dates, especially if they are during our peak seasons. Please contact us as soon as you can commit to your trip so that we can guarantee your spot.
Q: Will FIMRC Tell Me/Provide What Travel Documents I Need?
A: General information regarding required travel documents can be found in the FIMRC volunteer Pre-Departure Packet, distributed after successful completion of all enrollment forms and payment, as well as online on the GHVP enrollment system. However, it is your responsibility to make sure your passport is up to date and meets all country-specific requirements (e.g., some countries require a passport to be valid for 6 months beyond the date of the trip). Passport applications are available at most U.S. Post Offices as well as regional passport agencies. For more information, visit the State Department's Passports and International Travel website.
You are also responsible for obtaining any additional travel documents required by the host country, such as a travel visa or one-entry tourist card. Please note that required travel documents vary by host country. Visit here to ensure that you have the most current information. Please pay close attention to the entry requirements of the host country, especially if you are not a US citizen. It is your responsibility to make sure your paperwork is in order!
Q: I Reviewed The Info Online And I'm Ready To Book. Now What?
A: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or click here so we can get your started. To expedite the process, feel free to include the dates that you are interested in traveling, your location of interest, and any other questions that you might have. We will check the volunteer program availability and confirm your proposed dates.
Q: Is It Possible To Add Days To A Previously Arranged Trip?
A: We are happy to try and accommodate you if you decide to extend your trip. As soon as you decide you want to extend, email email@example.com or talk to your Field Operations Manager so we can check availability. Any days that are added will incur an additional charge to be determined using a prorated scale using that particular site’s fees. All advertised prices are for a seven-day period.
The Volunteer Experience
Q: How Do I Get From The Airport To The Project Site?
A: When you arrive to the airport one of our staff members or representative from FIMRC-approved transport will be there to greet you wearing a FIMRC t-shirt or holding a FIMRC sign. We'll also provide you with emergency contact numbers before departure, which we recommend that you carry with you while abroad. Before you leave for your trip, we will provide you with detailed information on your pickup, as well as confirmations for your housing and transportation for the duration of the trip.
Q: Where Do I Stay During The Volunteer Program?
A: This depends on your volunteering site. You can visit the project site page to see a video or look at pictures of what your accommodations will be. After viewing the page, if you have any additional questions, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to answer them!
Q: What Will I Be Doing While At The Project Site?
A: Please see the individual program overviews here and click on the "Learn More" button for more information, as well as this overview of possible volunteering activities. Volunteer itineraries vary due to the ever-changing needs of our clinic sites, but we are able to provide general overviews of the volunteer experience. All volunteer trips will combine elements of clinical and community work.
Q: When Will I Be Working On Site?
A: Volunteer activities coincide with the operating hours of project sites. Generally, volunteers work from approximately 9 am until 5 pm, Monday through Friday. This schedule may vary depending upon clinic hours, volunteer curriculum, and community outreach needs. Weekends are oftentimes spent travelling and learning about the local culture; however, if any activities are planned for the weekend, our staff will let you know upon arrival to be able to coordinate appropriately.
Program Cost and Airfare
Q: What Are The Costs Associated With A Volunteer Mission?
A: You are responsible for all costs associated with the trip. Please see the individual project location pages, which are listed here, for details on what is covered by the program donation as well as specific costs. The total cost depends on the time of year, length of stay and project site.
Q: What Assistance Is Available In Covering Costs?
A: Because all our available funds go toward providing medical care to children in need, we are unable to subsidize the cost of volunteer trips. However, we do not want to turn volunteers away because of financial limitations. Once enrolled, you will gain access to your very own fundraising page that can be shared to gather financial support for your trip. This is a great way to include family and friends and allow them to contribute in a tangible manner
Many schools also offer grants to students doing community service projects. We are happy to work with volunteers to brainstorm other fundraising methods. If you are a student, we encourage you to find out whether your college or university has a FIMRC Chapter. Chapters provide a support network for organizing events, planning trips and fundraising. For trips of four weeks or more, we may be able to make considerations to the program donation fee on an individual basis.
Q: If I Decide To Cancel My Program, Will My Fees Be Refunded?
A: All of our project sites are directly funded and supported by program donations, so you will see firsthand the result of your contributions when you arrive on site. This money stocks the clinics with pharmaceuticals and supplies, compensates the physician, nurse, and local medical professionals, and covers the clinic’s utilities and other costs associated with running a clinic. We operate on an innovative model of financial sustainability supported by Global Health Volunteers’ program donations and in order to ensure the vitality of all projects, program costs, program donations and/or housing/transport fees submitted to FIMRC cannot be refunded. However, we will happily apply any received donations or fees towards a future experience at one of our project sites or towards the account of another volunteer of your choice.
Q: What Do I Need To Know To Book My Flight?
A: It is the volunteer’s responsibility to arrange all flights. In accordance with our commitment to tailored volunteer experiences, we avoid dictating your arrival and departure and instead require that you book your own flight so that all travel is done at your convenience. While not required, volunteers are welcome to contact the following travel agents for airfare assistance.
Student UniverseFIMRC partners with StudentUniverse, a company that provides discounted airfare to students and youth travelers. While not required, volunteers are able to take advantage of this partnership through booking directly online at http://www.studentuniverse.com/travel/fimrc. For assistance with large group bookings, volunteers may contact FIMRC's representative at Student Universe, Maddie Rex.
Madeleine Rex, email@example.com D: +1 617 321 3135 | F: +1 617 321 3157
Easy Group AirfareEasy Group Airfare is another great option as they offer unique group travel coordination packages for volunteer trips. Volunteers need to simply visit http://www.easygroupairfare.com to request a no obligation quote. You may also contact Easy Group directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-476-6320.
Q: Are FIMRC’s Programs Safe?
A: Please contact us directly if you have any concerns regarding safety. Volunteer safety is one of our first priorities. While the safety of international travel cannot be guaranteed, we go to numerous lengths to ensure volunteer security. FIMRC sites are chosen with many factors in mind, including accessibility to volunteers. Our programs are designed to be accessible to first-time travelers as well as experienced medical volunteers.
At all of our project sites, we arrange transportation and housing to maximize safety. We work with our project staff to ensure that they are trained on safety measures, that you receive orientation upon arrival in-country, as well as compiling tips and recommendations for the duration of your experience. We require medical and evacuation insurance as a safety measure. We constantly update our safety protocol to ensure that we are doing our best to keep you safe.
What it comes down to is this: we do everything in our power to keep you safe. While there are no guarantees, we work tirelessly to ensure that you have a safe and comfortable experience and that you're able to focus on volunteering. Safety is our priority!
Q: What Vaccinations Should I Consider Before Traveling Abroad?
A: We refer all volunteers to the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/travel for the most up to date vaccination recommendations. Please note the different recommendations not only for the country you are visiting, but also for the region in which you will be staying.
Q: Can I Earn Academic Credit For My Experience?
A: We are glad to work with you and your school however necessary to ensure that you receive credit for your experience. While you are responsible for investigating this possibility with your school, we can submit any necessary documentation on your behalf, and will work to tailor your experience to any requirements your program may have. If you are a medical student in your third or fourth year, you can sign up for a for-credit rotation through our Comparative Health Immersion Rotation Program. We are glad to create your experience according to the specific requirements of your program, so please contact email@example.com to get started.
Q: Should I Bring Medical Supplies Or Donations Of Any Kind?
A: Absolutely! FIMRC encourages you to collect donations such as over-the-counter medications, hygiene supplies, vitamins, school supplies, and toothbrushes. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the most up-to-date information on a particular site’s donation needs. We are extremely grateful for any supplies that you might be able to bring. Some volunteers even choose to pack an extra suitcase with supplies. Be sure to check with your airline for extra baggage costs or restrictions.