While NPH continuously works to support and protect its volunteers from harm, the organization recognizes that not all risks can be eliminated. Therefore, it is imperative for volunteers to understand that many of the countries where NPH operates are greatly affected by poverty, oftentimes causing high incidents of violence and crime in the countries. Volunteers must also recognize that these countries are susceptible to political and civil unrest. Though the NPH beneficiaries, staff, and volunteers who work and live at NPH sites are insulated from conflict and violence, violence and unrest has increased in many Latin American and the Caribbean countries due to corruption, gang activity, drug trafficking, unemployment, and poverty.
The national directors and volunteer coordinators in the NPH countries of service are responsible for conducting safety trainings and orientations for volunteers, specific to the local context. The volunteers are responsible for following safety rules and guidelines to ensure their personal safety and wellbeing at all times. NPH local staff and NPH International constantly assess the local security situation of countries where NPH hosts volunteers.
If a volunteer’s safety or wellbeing is compromised, both local NPH staff as well as NPH International will work to either resolve the situation or to provide the volunteer with an alternative option for service. If a decision is made to evacuate volunteers from a country, NPH will work to remove volunteers safely and efficiently from the locale. If an individual volunteer feels unsafe or uncomfortable in a host country, NPH will work with the volunteer to make the best decision for the volunteer’s wellbeing.
Volunteers must be aware of the complex local situations in which they live and work, but also understand that if they take necessary precautions, they will have a safe and enjoyable stay. NPH requests that during service, volunteers engage in safe and healthy lifestyle habits, avoid dangerous situations, remain informed about the host country’s situation, and exercise sound judgment at all times, both on and off NPH property.
Volunteers are encouraged to leave NPH property for leisure and recreation, and many are obligated to do so for their work assignments. However, it is of the utmost importance that volunteers use precaution when doing so. Despite high crime rates in countries where NPH works, most international volunteers’ stays in these countries are incident-free. Nonetheless, volunteers must be aware of their surroundings and assume full responsibility for their personal safety at all times.
Please note that failure to abide by safety rules put in place by the NPH country of service is grounds for immediate dismissal.