International volunteer opportunities?

AAKRAZY

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    I've got a ten day period coming in March/April (Spring break, basically) when I'd like to get involved with some kind of medically related volunteer program abroad.

    There's just so much out there, I wanted to get recommendations from anyone who's been involved with organizations that don't require professional licensing but still need volunteers. The more hands-on, the better. I'm looking to go to Africa more than anything. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
     

    Iron Horse

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      Having worked with an international med relief org, I can tell you that the previous poster is correct in encouraging you to find something closer to home. There is a lot of cost, training, oversight, and risk associated with sending anyone overseas. It doesn't make sense to take a pre-med student, no offense intended, and assume all of those burdens (i.e. cost-benefit does not add up).

      These same organizations do have many needs in their US offices that you could help with. If international med is an area of interest, get your foot in the door, either for this week and/or for the summer, and be proactive; look for projects and challenges and prove yourself so that the next time a week opens up, you are a known quantity and more valuable to the org. Then maybe you can do something sexy, like go to Africa.
       
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      Wardens

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        I agree also mostly with what was said. I have a friend who went to West Africa for pre-med shadowing through cross-cultural solutions. I was looking into the same program. He said it was an amazing experience while he could appreciate it. He was sick for half the trip with malaria, and said several others were as well. The experience would undoubtedly be excellent, but there are a lot of potential drawbacks that might affect your helping more people in the future.
        While I've never done medically-related volunteer work overseas, I have been involved in habitat for humanity, and there are many places throughout Europe that offer wonderful programs. You can look up global village trips from the habitat web site. They are bit costly, but would be more reasonable after some fundraising. Granted there is still some element of danger, though I'm sure it would be easier to convince your parents that you'll be okay.
         

        kreno

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          Yeah, don't go abroad... or at least oversees with just 10 days. When I studied abroad in Greece last year (12 months), I had the opportunity to volunteer at some NGO's in Kosovo/Serbia - but that's just 'cuz I found the connections once I was in that part of the world. It was a great experience.... but if you're only trying to find something for 10 days, it seems kinda superficial to me; you're not going to contribute much in that time - when will you get trained? how will you cope deailng w/needy people and connecting to them only to leave a week later? Volunteering is a two way thing.... you try to help people, but at the same time you selfishly gain yourself (whether it be personal satisfaction, to satisfy any type of emotion what have you lacking in your life, or resume building).
          kreno
           

          AAKRAZY

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            Thanks for the responses. I think I've lined something up for the break, and I totally understand the cost/benefit ratio inherent with the short time I actually have.

            Nonetheless, I'm looking for information I could use later. If you know of organizations, please feel free to contact me.

            I'm actually 26 years old, so experience working with local community groups is there in spades. I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone, as selfish as that sounds, by incorporating a service element with a trip abroad. I could get out of town for a while, and perhaps learn something in the process about a potential area of medicine I find fascinating and worth pursuing in the future. I wasn't looking to change the world or add notches to my resume.

            Again, names and information regarding your experiences was what was originally sought after with this post.
             

            Sunnygirl

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              I just wanted to chime in on this discussion about volunteering abroad for a short time period. I agree with many of the previous posters that working in your community, or even another community in your state, or region, is a great option if you are looking to make an impact in a short space of time. However, if you are able to recruit peers, friends, family, etc., to volunteer abroad with you on a joint project that may not be medically related, I think this option gains weight. If you can find a local agency in a country you are interested in visiting, contact them and see if 8 or 10 strong bodies can be put to use. A few years ago, I went to Honduras with 10 peers for 10 days. Working with Save the Children, we were able to initiate the construction of 2 homes and a school. It was an extremely rewarding experience for us, and since we went as a group, we were able to make a tangible impact on a community.
               

              cabruen

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                I must strongly disagree with the above posters recommending not to go abroad. I have traveleld extensively, and you can do a lot in a short amount of time. I also disagree that you need to be affiliated with any formal program.

                Just pick a place.....like for example Malawi....book a ticket, fly there, hire a ride to the nearest hospital, and start asking around and talking to the doctors. You will be shadowing one within 2 hours without having known the name of the doctor, hospital, city, or country ever before.

                If anybody has any questions about these exploits, send me an email and I will help guide you in a little more detail.

                (Disclaimer--I run a for-profit medical team, so I am certainly a little biased.)
                 

                alisha75

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                  If you can go abroad, meaning if you can afford it and are interested gaining a global perspective on the conditions of healthcare, then go. I went to India with Cross-Cultural solutions and loved it. I will never be the same. Granted I stayed there for a month and a half but nevertheless, there are shorter term options. In May, (but they have trips a few times a year) for example, I am going to Honduras with M.E.D.I.C.O (Med, Eye, Dent International Org) for approx 9 days to work with docs and nurses in makeshift medical clinics. If you can speak Spanish, I'm sure that they would love to have to translate. Also, do you belong to a church? If so, find out if your church has missions to other countries (often they do). Another option: do some research on the internet and over the phone looking into a buch of different programs. I gurantee if you search under "humanitarian missions" you will find something (often 1-2 weeks in length). Last resort: Do you or anyone you know have any connections to someone living in another country? If so, ask them to get you some phone numbers of organizations and hospitals overseas and call them to set up a volunteering opportunity. Believe me, going overseas is worth it if you have the resources, like working with people from different cultures, and are interested in working with underserved, poverty stricken communities. Good Luck. you can e-mail me if you have any questions: [email protected].
                   

                  bigapple

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                    Originally posted by Sunnygirl
                    I just wanted to chime in on this discussion about volunteering abroad for a short time period. I agree with many of the previous posters that working in your community, or even another community in your state, or region, is a great option if you are looking to make an impact in a short space of time. However, if you are able to recruit peers, friends, family, etc., to volunteer abroad with you on a joint project that may not be medically related, I think this option gains weight. If you can find a local agency in a country you are interested in visiting, contact them and see if 8 or 10 strong bodies can be put to use. A few years ago, I went to Honduras with 10 peers for 10 days. Working with Save the Children, we were able to initiate the construction of 2 homes and a school. It was an extremely rewarding experience for us, and since we went as a group, we were able to make a tangible impact on a community.

                    wow that sounds really cool. how exactly did you set it up? i've worked in south america doing community service, but there were a lot of obstacles for me once i got there, and it took me months to overcome them. could you let me know?
                     

                    cabruen

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                      Would could have possibly taken months. Were you trying to get into a specific project project? I think to key to overseas projects is just throw yourself into it.

                      Here are my rules for overseas projects.

                      1. Feet on Ground. Get to the place you want to go. More can be accomplished in one day locally than can ever be accomplished remotely.

                      2. Use the phone. When you get local, open up the phone (or its nearest equivalent, which often may be a taxi driver) and find the places that your interested in. ie Hospitals, Doctors, water Projects, or whatever.

                      3. Visit. Go and see the places you are interested in and start talking to people. In you are curteous, and kind, and friendly, but persistent, people will allow you to see and do almost anything.
                       

                      lotanna

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                        Originally posted by cabruen
                        Would could have possibly taken months. Were you trying to get into a specific project project? I think to key to overseas projects is just throw yourself into it.

                        Here are my rules for overseas projects.

                        1. Feet on Ground. Get to the place you want to go. More can be accomplished in one day locally than can ever be accomplished remotely.

                        2. Use the phone. When you get local, open up the phone (or its nearest equivalent, which often may be a taxi driver) and find the places that your interested in. ie Hospitals, Doctors, water Projects, or whatever.

                        3. Visit. Go and see the places you are interested in and start talking to people. In you are curteous, and kind, and friendly, but persistent, people will allow you to see and do almost anything.

                        Well said, I've done many intl work in several West African countries, and you're right, though i must say if u have connections, ur set. Just be humble and people will be willing to help you. Though I must say I wouldnt just fly into any country like that, kinda set up some kind of connection b4 hand, or if u have family/friends there. Trust me, this is coming from someone who grew up internationally for most of her younger life, str8 out of the cities of several West African countries. Now thats the truth, but I encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone, It has helped me become a better person, I'm multi-lingual by heritage and background, and that has opened up a lot of doors for me.
                         

                        LoneCoyote

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                          Originally posted by AAKRAZY
                          Thanks for the responses. I think I've lined something up for the break, and I totally understand the cost/benefit ratio inherent with the short time I actually have.

                          Nonetheless, I'm looking for information I could use later. If you know of organizations, please feel free to contact me.

                          I'm actually 26 years old, so experience working with local community groups is there in spades. I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone, as selfish as that sounds, by incorporating a service element with a trip abroad. I could get out of town for a while, and perhaps learn something in the process about a potential area of medicine I find fascinating and worth pursuing in the future. I wasn't looking to change the world or add notches to my resume.

                          Again, names and information regarding your experiences was what was originally sought after with this post.

                          AACRAZY, I PM-ed you info on a group that takes some volunteers from AZ and CA to Mexico to work at clinics for weekends.
                           
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