skip navigation

Frequently Asked Questions

You Have Questions & We Have Answers

If you don't see the answers to any of your questions here, send us an email at info@westafricanmedicalmissions.org and we will get back to you promptly.

Safety

Your safety is our number one priority. You may not have much international travel experience and therefore many questions about vaccinations and other safety concerns, and if something unfortunate may happen to you while overseas such as an illness, injury or accident, we will be there to support and guide you. We have formal processes and procedures and an office providing 24/hr support in your host country to back up what we say.

 

This is How WAMM meets these issues:

 

  • Risk Assessment Procedure and Country Emergency Response Plan

  • Thorough pre-departure information related to safety

  • 24/7 In-country Office Support in the event of an Emergency

  • Emergency Response planning and training

  • Training on tasks, supervision from project organization and daily briefings on safety concerns

Volunteer Preparation

What do I need to bring? Do I need vaccinations? What about money or communications in my host country? Are there any cultural issues I should be aware of? Who will meet me when I arrive? Do I get an orientation? When will I get information on my project? These are some of many questions relating to preparation prior to departure to your host country. We can answer all your questions to your satisfaction in a timely manner. With WAMM you can talk to a person about your concerns, and be provided with relevant information about your experience with sufficient time to prepare. In addition, upon arrival in your host country and beginning your project experience, you receive information and training to enable you to comfortably settle in and give you the tools to effectively and safety participate in all of our activities.

 

This is How WAMM meets these issues

 

  • Staff able to provide timely support with any questions you have.

  • Timely and accurate communication of relevant information.

  • Informative website plus: upon confirmation of program placement, you will be sent the WAMM Volunteer Handbook, Participant Travel Guide, and Country Resource Document.

  • All volunteers receive regular updates from WAMM offices relevant to their program. Approximately 2 weeks prior to departure, the WAMM project leader also emails volunteers with special reminders and welcome.

  • Thorough orientation meetings and training for the first 5-days upon arrival provided by team leaders, local staff, and project participants, in accordance with the standard orientation meeting outline to ensure all the important information is covered.

Educational Component

We believe that a volunteer experience is about giving, but also about learning. Learning can be about personal development such as learning new skills and working in a challenging new environment. At the very least it's important for volunteers to understand how each project's activities link to the overall goals of the project, within the context of local, national and international levels.

Through your experience we will continually assist you in learning the "big picture," and in addition learn about the culture as well. Thorough pre-departure preparation is essential; the responsible traveler will learn about their host country and culture before they travel. We provide our volunteers with a project overview, a country specific travel manual and a country resource manual which gives cultural, historical, geographical and environmental issues. At the project site, we teach you more about the importance of your tasks at the local, national and global levels. Our project leaders guide all volunteers through an incredible journey that facilitates an understanding of what shifting the paradigm of global health means, along with responsible tourism and other local issues relevant to your project.

You will walk away inspired and informed by your project. Make sure to ask us as many questions as you can so you can gain a deep level of understanding the importance of your work and the "big picture" issues.


This is How WAMM meets these issues

  • All projects are selected for educational value in addition to making a positive sustainable impact

  • Local WAMM staff work to ensure the experience is as educational as possible, connecting the project tasks to the "big picture" issues.

  • One of the primary responsibilities of WAMM's local project leaders is to facilitate an educational experience for all volunteers. Project leaders are well educated and experienced in making large community impacts and are passionate about global health issues!

  • Core educational components of a WAMM volunteer project experience are the keeping of a daily experiential journal to record and reflect upon the project, and the participation in fun and informative group discussions about relevant topics including but not limited to shifting the paradigm of global health, innovation, sustainability and much more. Project leaders also incorporate a number of other interesting learning opportunities such as interpretive hikes, guest speakers, and much much more.

Making A True Impact

You want to make a difference, but to what? It's a huge effort to fly overseas and volunteer for a cause so it's crucial to make a careful choice about what sort of organization to support. With so many needs in the world, a volunteer project should address REAL issues so that your time and effort is being used where it is most needed. Above and beyond "financial aid," your service should contribute to a greater cause where the goal is to make a positive impact for people and planet, while shifting the paradigm of global health.

Also to consider, as a volunteer, you are there for a finite period of time. What happens to the project after you leave? What is the management plan? Some volunteer providers do not make the effort to visit projects and have a deep understanding of what they involve. Not only is this risky, it means that even they don't know what sort of volunteer experience you would really get. The project and related tasks must be meaningful and their goals achievable; part of WAMM's mission is to support shift the paradigm of global health by making project that go beyond the 'development paradigm' and shift the ownership of global health to project countries through participation and away from the developing nations good intended donations. Therefore, these types of project and associated goals must fit within this mission. When we say "contribute to shifting the paradigm", the projects focus on improving empowering local social and structural conditions.

Don't be afraid to ask any of our staff to justify the projects that we run. WAMM prides itself on only supporting projects that meet our goals to contribute to shifting the paradigm of global health. As a volunteer, you should be able to see how your involvement contributes to the goals of the project and to shifting the paradigm of global health overall.

This is How WAMM
meets these issues

 

  • WAMM site inspects every project and meets with project staff to satisfy that the project meets our standards

     

  • WAMM project managers and country coordinators have academic and/or practical experience in areas related to the environmental and social issues, and are therefore qualified to decide which projects will in fact contribute to sustainable empowerment.

 

  • Project goals relate to sustainability, innovation, education, civic engagement, and community empowerment

 

  • Volunteer tasks link to the project's goals

 

  • A management plan is in place to ensure that each project is completed or continued after the volunteer leaves

 

  • WAMM project leaders ensure volunteers understand how their project helps others or the environment, at the local, national and global levels

Having FUN

Volunteering can be hard work and at times demanding. Sometimes it can be stressful and challenge you like never before. However, our programs will also allow you to have fun! Are there opportunities to interact with local people or other volunteers? WAMM's projects always involve teams of like-minded volunteers working together, supported by WAMM and our project leaders. Your project will permit you some free time so that you can take advantage of your surroundings, relax and meet the local people.

You will be supported in the event that you need advice or suggestions for safe and fun free time activities. Even while you work, we understand that motivation and task diversity go along way to creating a positive volunteer environment. Knowing in advance if your project will be fun might be hard to test for - our best advice, use social networking to ask past volunteers and you'll sure to get some insight into what their experience was like in this regard.

This is How WAMM
meets these issues

 

  • Free time to ensure that volunteers can explore the local area. Free time options given to volunteers in advance as part of the Project Overview

     

  • WAMM project leaders are trained to use team building activities, icebreakers and games to ensure there's never a dull moment.