Vacations often take people to glamorous locations, where they consume cocktails and relax in the sunshine. While those types of vacations are still popular, another sort of trip that can give you a fresh perspective on life involves helping needy populations, typically in developing countries. These medical missions depend on the service of volunteers who are willing to devote their time to helping others.
Read on to learn more about medical missions.
What do medical missionaries do?
Typically, medical volunteers will either head to a country that has a sudden need due to a disaster, such as the devastating 2010 earthquake that hit Haiti, or they will travel to a developing country to administer basic medical services, such as vaccinations or eye examinations. In most cases that involve disaster relief, affected areas typically prefer that the volunteers who show up be trained professionals. However, there are a number of medical volunteer missions available that do welcome untrained participants.
Medical volunteering trips typically cost participants less than a regular resort vacation. Volunteers are usually housed in a group setting or in basic accommodations. On many mission trips, meals are included and are usually similar to what the locals eat.
Before heading on a volunteer trip, it is highly recommended that participants invest in certain precautions such as vaccinations andÂ mission trip insurance. The organizer of a mission should be able to provide participants with information as to what type of vaccinations and medications will be necessary for a trip. If not, a volunteer should consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s websiteÂ for country-specific information regarding health concerns.
Mission trip insurance is important, as missionaries often work in remote areas where disease is common, and expensive air transport may be the only way to reach a hospital. In many tropical countries, missionaries could be exposed to debilitating diseases, such as malaria or dengue fever, which could require a long stay in a foreign hospital.
Where to find medical mission opportunities?
- American Medical Association. Physicians looking for volunteer opportunities can consult the American Medical Association’sÂ website (click here)Â for opportunities that are available around the world. For instance, it recently listed a need for orthopedic assistance in Uganda and Ethiopia. These assignments were for two to four weeks and involved training residents and others in orthopedics.
- Relief Riders International. This organization, which has won the United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award, offers volunteer trips on horseback in remote regions of India. Participants do not need to have professional medical training to volunteer forÂ Relief Riders International’sÂ missions.
- Doctors Without Borders.Â Doctors Without BordersÂ is a well-known organization that works in many countries throughout the world. Recently, for instance, its volunteers worked with Somalis living in Kenyan refugee camps.
- Canadian Medical Association. Â For those looking to volunteer overseas, the CMA Website (click here) list information about opportunities in Africa, Haiti, as well as work with the Canadian Red Cross for disaster relief.
There are challenges associated with medical volunteering, but most travelers who have gone on these trips come back feeling as if they have truly accomplished something good. Most also return with a greater understanding of the world and a greater appreciation of their own blessings.