Health & Safety
Good health is of utmost importance for the volunteers. Pre-existing conditions do not disqualify an applicant from service, but it can be difficult to get the same type of care he or she may have in his or her country of origin. Volunteers live and work in difficult conditions and will be exposed to tropical illnesses and other vector-borne diseases. Volunteers have access to basic primary healthcare services provided by NPH in our on-site clinics, staffed by local physicians and nurses. Extraordinary care can be sought outside of NPH, but the volunteer will have to assume all costs and burden of the services. All volunteers will be provided with health insurance with international coverage for their year of service.
Prior to beginning service, all volunteers must submit a Health Statement (English | Spanish), completed by a certified physician. Additional documentation will be required for applicants with pre-existing conditions, including mental health conditions. Applicants who take permanent or chronic medications must bring either a year’s supply or assume all costs of purchasing the medicine in the country of service. The NPH International Volunteer Program reserves the right to deny an applicant based on health conditions that put the applicant at risk.
We encourage volunteers to engage in healthy lifestyle habits during their year of service to help ensure good health.
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 children, 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 NPH homes’ national directors and volunteer coordinators are responsible for conducting safety trainings and orientations specific to the local context for volunteers. 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 danger. 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 homes are located, 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 home where you serve is grounds for immediate dismissal.