The safety of our volunteers is a top priority at Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO). During the orientation process, we provide volunteers with information and recommendations they need to stay safe and healthy. Nonetheless, health and safety risks are an inherent part of international volunteer service. HVO volunteers can reduce these risks by following recommendations for locally appropriate behavior, exercising sound judgment and abiding by HVO policies and procedures.
Prior to starting a project in a country, HVO undertakes a complete assessment of the health and safety conditions of the country. In selecting sites, we carefully consider the suitability of housing options, the availability of communications and the local security situation. HVO routinely monitors activities at project sites and regularly receives updates from the Department of State.
On occasion, HVO may have a project in a country for which the Department of State has issued a specific Travel Advisory. Volunteers for these projects may be subject to additional requirements established by HVO in order to qualify for service at that site. The requirements may include, but will not necessarily be limited to, prior HVO experience, relevant international experience, proof of purchase of medical evacuation insurance, and site-specific criteria.
If HVO has an active project in a country or region of a country (province, city, etc.) that the Department of State indicates is unsafe for Americans to travel to), HVO reserves the right to suspend the project and volunteers on the schedule may be asked to change their assignment to another site.
For more information about Travel Advisories, visit the Department of State website.
For more information on personal safety, read HVO’s A Guide to Volunteering Overseas – this is included in the orientation materials provided to all volunteers.
All volunteers are strongly encouraged to register with the US Embassy upon arrival in-country if they have not already registered with the Department of State prior to their departure. For information on registering, visit the Department of State web at step.state.gov/step.
Volunteering internationally is an enriching experience – it offers challenges and opportunities in abundance. Our goal at HVO is to make your volunteer experience a safe and healthy one that you will remember and treasure for years to come