I am a nurse interested in volunteering in Africa. My skills and current experiences are within the General Medical Field/Acute Care as well as HIV/AIDS education, prevention and harm reduction. I am having difficulty finding a legitimate, responsible volunteer agency and was hoping you would be able to point me in the right direction. IVHQ has a medical placement in Uganda that seems like it may be a good match for my current skill set and would give me the opportunity to do some actual good, but after doing some research and reading some negative reviews I am unsure if this would be the best option. Any advice regarding this particular option or alternative programs you may be aware of would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
Great to hear from you and thanks for contacting us.
You have a lot of experience, which is great. Now you just need to find the right institution or people to match your skills with the right placement/work. This is, unfortunately, not that easy.
The quality of the programs depends on the local partner, the int. volunteer company works with.
One challange when signing up with IVHQ (and certain other companies) is, that you will not know closely before your arrival or just when you arrive what kind of work you will be doing or where you will be placed. You will be told that organizational issues are the reason for that, which is actually not the case.
Also high numbers of volunteers as well as their business approach make it hard to overview and evaluate the impact of their programs.
If you do choose the ivhq nursing, make sure you know who is allowed in the medical program. If untrained volunteers or even volunteers without skills can join the program, it is definitely not the place to volunteer in. Read here why. Hospitals and health care projects are certainly not a playground for for young volunteers.
It is also very important that you ask the right questions, maybe even give the company you choose a call.
-Get in touch with former volunteers before paying (don’t fall for excuses why this is not possible)
-Make sure you know your placement and what you will be doing early enough
-Ask how you can prepare best
-Ask about previous experiences and why this project needs volunteers. Is there an exit strategy?
-Have the programs been evaluated?
-Where does the money go to (also the founds the local partner receives)
Make sure most of your questions are answered. Of course not all of them will be answered to your satisfaction but most of them should.
Here are some good articles about what to ask:
Have you ever thought of applying directly or choosing an institution that specialises in health care volunteering? It would be a shame, if your skills would not be used appropriately. Please let us know if you do have more questions. Good luck and please let us know about your eperience!