HVO COVID-19 Update

UPDATED 4/22/2020:

Health Volunteers Overseas is closely monitoring the situation caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The situation is rapidly evolving. We are updating our guidance on project suspensions based on host country government policies, as well as advisories from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US State Department.

After much consideration, HVO suspended volunteer placements at all of our projects until August 31st.

We are continuing to recruit and place volunteers on the schedule for later this year and for 2021, as our important work to educate and train health workers around the world continues and is more important than ever.

For our partners overseas, HVO is a global health community, and we are here for you. If you have specific questions, concerns, or training/mentoring needs related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, please send them to, and we will do our best to research and address your inquiry through the HVO volunteer professional network. You can find a list of trusted COVID-19 resources on our Outreach & Resources page:

For our volunteers and members, the following provides answers to common questions and will be updated as new information becomes available.

What does “suspended” mean?

HVO has canceled all volunteer placements through May 31st.  HVO will reassess this decision as more information becomes available.  If you are interested in scheduling an assignment for later in 2020 and through 2021, please be in touch with an HVO Volunteer Placement Coordinator to learn more.

What should I do if I am currently serving as an HVO volunteer overseas?

For volunteers currently at project sites, you should feel completely free to make decisions about your personal health and safety and any professional implications related to international travel, including early departure from your project site.

If you decide to leave your assignment early, please let your HVO Volunteer Placement Coordinator know promptly. We keep careful track of HVO volunteers’ travel plans.

I’m on the schedule for later this year. What should I do?

As of 4/22/2020, HVO does not plan to suspend projects beyond August 31 and all volunteers scheduled September 2020 and beyond may remain on the schedule. HVO is closely monitoring the situation and will proactively reach out to you if this changes.

Due to the current uncertainty, some of you may elect to preemptively postpone your assignment.  If you decide to postpone your assignment, please let your HVO Volunteer Placement Coordinator know immediately. Staff can send you a letter that outlines the situation and that may be useful for your communication with airlines, if you have already purchased tickets.

If you would like to remain on the schedule for later in 2020, please continue to gather and submit documentation for any visa applications, etc.  If traveling to a country with a longer visa process, submission of your documents will be helpful even if you should ultimately decide to postpone travel. We recommend that you proactively reach out to your airlines to inquire about your options with regard to any flights you have booked and that you explore travel insurance. If you have not yet purchased tickets, we recommend holding off for now.

Should I still travel during the outbreak?

If you received an email from HVO cancelling your trip, you should not move forward with the assignment. Many of our project sites have implemented restrictions on out-of-country visitors and some countries where HVO works have implemented mandatory quarantines for travelers who arrive.

As a global health organization, HVO’s decision to suspend placement of volunteers until August 31 is based upon needs of our overseas partners, as well as guidance issued through the CDC and the World Health Organization.

I had to cancel my trip. Can I write-off the expenses on my taxes?

If you have assignment related costs that are not reimbursable, please complete HVO’s Financial Contribution Form. Select the “Overseas volunteer assignment” option and relate the expenses you had to pay related to the cancelled trip:

Can I talk to someone at HVO about this?

Absolutely! We are always here as a resource for you, so please feel free to call us (202-296-0928) or email (

In order to conserve limited financial resources, HVO is now closed on Fridays, until further notice. If your message is received Friday-Sunday, I will respond on Monday. If you are able, please support our work through these difficult times:  Thank you!

Where Can I Find More Information About the Coronavirus?

For more information, we suggest reading more information provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). They are some of the best online resources that are updated regularly.

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