Though the program was suspended earlier this year due to COVID-19, Program Coordinator Lauren Pach says applications are now being accepted for the next term in October. July 27, 2020 - NPH International
Lauren Pach, coordinator of the International Volunteer Program, helps a pequeña at NPH Honduras to wash her hands.
As some countries in Europe begin to see pandemic curves flatten and the United States evaluates a nationwide return to school for millions of children, infection and death rates continue to climb across Latin America and the Caribbean where NPH operates. COVID-19 cases tick upward; many health systems are in the midst of a health disaster. In a normal year, the month of July would see us proudly welcoming a new cohort of volunteers from all over the world.
Unfortunately, this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have postponed the start of the next volunteer cohort until October. This decision has far-reaching consequences for our homes and the children and youth we serve, but we know it is the best decision to help ensure the safety of all.
VOLUNTEERING IN 2021: APPLICATION PROCESS
In nearly every area of our work and family lives, we are all learning to plan for the future with much greater degrees of uncertainty. The same holds true for NPH’s volunteer program. We are adapting the program to a new normal post-COVID-19. We invite those around the world who are interested in dedicating a year abroad to NPH’s mission to apply—we need you now more than ever.
If you are interested in volunteering with NPH, apply today to be considered for the next term. If you are not available to start in October, you can apply to begin service in 2021.
Step 2: Over the next two weeks, you’ll receive confirmation of receipt of your application. Applicants accepted for the next phase of screening will be contacted for an interview.
Step 3: Accepted applicants complete required documentation. Evaluation of the applicant packet is completed. An employment offer is made to approved applicants.
Step 4: Begin your yearlong volunteer service with NPH.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON CURRENT VOLUNTEERS
In March, as threat of the virus escalated throughout Latin America, NPH volunteers were advised to suspend their service and return to their countries of origin. Many volunteers made the heartbreaking decision to return to their home countries. Due to quarantine measures in place in NPH Homes, this meant leaving suddenly without the chance to say a proper goodbye to the children and staff the volunteers had grown close to.
Consequently 34 volunteers opted to leave in March and early April; obviously, this had a significant impact on our operations. NPH volunteers serve as nurses, therapists, teachers, and more to help NPH deliver high-quality, essential services to the children, youth, and families we support. More profoundly, the early, hasty departure of so many volunteers left a hole in our hearts. Volunteers are a key part of the NPH family, and we eagerly await the day when they can safely return to our homes.
In the meantime, nine volunteers remain in our homes in Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia, and Peru. They work alongside our permanent staff to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our homes, as well as to ensure that children continue to receive the care and support they need. Everyday routines in the NPH homes have been turned upside down by the pandemic. Yet, volunteers have shown selflessness in their willingness to adapt to this new normal. We are immensely grateful for their dedication and sacrifice during these difficult times.
The volunteer program continues to be a hallmark of NPH’s values. Our volunteers promote intercultural exchange and understanding, serve as role models for the children, and act as ambassadors of the NPH organization. Though the volunteer program has been delayed by some months, it remains an integral part of the NPH experience for many qualified professionals who are able to give a year of their lives in service to others.
Please support our NPH homes during this time of need. Any help you can give is well received and accepted graciously. Please visit nph.org for more information.
Lauren Pach Coordinator of the International Volunteer Program