Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Im off to volunteer where I am really needed.


So you want to head off overseas and volunteer?
Well, before you get too excited here are some tips, things you should know and a few websites to look up before you plan to go:

1) Where should I go?
That is entirely up to you.  Where do you want to go and help?  What are you passionate about?  Would your skills be valuable3 or 333 use?  Is it safe? How much will it cost to get there, be accommodated there and cost of immunizations and visas?  Theseuhuuhhhjjjhhý6 are just some things for you to take into consideration.
It is up to you to research where you want to go.  I can’t tell you that information but have a think about what drives you and where there is a need.  Research where there are reputable organizations that exist there in the area.  Not all organizations need you there to volunteer for months on end, some are happy to have you help for a few weeks.  Don’t expect the organization to pay for your travel, accommodation or food.  Some organizations will cover accommodation, but this is not always the case.
2)  Be affiliated with an organization or group.
Do not be a spontaneous volunteer, especially in a crisis or disaster.  Be affiliated with a group.  If you are after disaster type volunteer work, communicate with an organization early, well before any disaster occurs.  Send in your resume, AHPRA registration details and referees so that you can be processed, and reference checked and then when a disaster occurs you will be on the list ready to go.
One of THE MOST difficult things I dealt with during the refugee crisis was the daily barrage of spontaneous volunteers that would turn up, claiming they were doctors or paramedics and we had no idea who they were or of their credentials, we certainly didn’t have tie to coordinate them all and definitely not to screen them.  Be wary of just turning up into another country unannounced and not part of a group some well meaning volunteers found themselves being arrested I Greece when they were helping with boat arrivals and they were accused of being people smugglers.  During the chaos of disaster, particularly when there are large groups of people and movement, this is when sinister people make their way In.  A man that claimed he was a Doctor stole money from some volunteers when he claimed he needed it to buy equipment urgently for someone who was unwell.  He took off with the money and of course he was not medical. 

3) safety is a priority
One of the concerns for refugees and volunteers were the group known as Golden Dawn, a Neo Nazi group of thugs who went around assaulting people.  This including unsuspecting volunteers including 2 Doctors and a couple of paramedics.  Be wary of the political situation surrounding the event or area that you are volunteering in.  Ignorance is bliss, but in this situation, it can be down right dangerous and plain stupid.

4) Don’t be a Burden
Depending on the situation, don’t be a burden on the group.  Try and be self-sufficient.
Will there be running water and drinking water?
Will there be food available? Not sure? Well have some food with you to be self-sustained.
Look at your equipment that you are taking.  Is there going to be power? What are your sleeping arrangements?
There are so many factors to consider, don’t be the rescuer that needs to be rescued.
Is the organization housing you? Think about giving them a token donation or offer to pay for something because they have had to raise the funds through donations to pay for the accommodations and they could be using that money for medical supplies etc.
5) What training do you need?
 Yes! you need training, depending on where you are going and what you will be doing once there.  The organisation you chose to go with guide you on what is needed, but there are also online training that are interesting and can be helpful, make sure it is from a reputable source.
6) The organization I want to volunteer with is asking for money, is this normal?
 There are a lot of organisations that ask for money or are expensive.  Be aware of what your money is for. 
7) Will the country I am visiting restrict me from travelling to other areas later?
Learn from my mishap, you can read the blog, or just know that if you visit a country such as Iraq, then getting to America is going to be difficult.  I was invited to speak at a Philanthropy conference and found myself stranded and unable to get a visa because of my recent travels.  Some stamps in your passport will raise eyebrows in some countries making it difficult.
 8) Make sure someone knows where you are, register with smart travelerhttps://smartraveller.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Brand%20%7C%20EX&utm_term=smart%20traveler&utm_content=Smartraveller

Trust me I have had situations where I have been unaccounted for, or an incident like natural disaster or a bombing close by has occurred, and my family was worried.  By registering with smart traveller the Department of Foreign Affairs can keep a track o f where you are supposed to be, and intervene if required.

9) Is the organisation that I am looking at joining registered or well known? has there been any bad press?

Preparation is key:
Have I had the correct immunisations?

Have I learnt about the culture of the country i am going to?
Have I had the right training?
If you don't have acute care, such as Emergency Nursing, paramedics, intensive care then read this article which talks about the negatives of short term volunteer trips and benefits for longer assignments in making a difference and beware of volunteer tourism:
Here are some different volunteer opportunities that aren't just medical related but can still allow you to travel with purpose
Some helpful websites:

Kitrinos Healthcare Greece: https://www.kitrinoshealthcare.org

Australian Volunteers for International Development: https://dfat.gov.au/people-to-people/volunteers/Pages/volunteers. aspx
Non-Resident Nepalese Association:  https://www.nrn.org.au/

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