Our top Priority
We know that health and safety can be primary concerns for volunteers who are traveling abroad to developing countries and, at Outreach360, your health and safety is our top priority as well! Since 1994, our more than 17,000 volunteers have enjoyed a safe experience with Outreach360. Our professional and reliable program has always ensured volunteer security, allowing volunteers to focus on serving.
When volunteering with Outreach360 our professional American and Canadian leaders that live on-site provide volunteers with a complete orientation regarding our common sense guidelines and our specific safety and health measures that ensure everyone’s wellbeing. We provide excellent traveler’s medical insurance for every individual and are one of the few international service-learning organizations to carry a $1,000,000 foreign general liability insurance policy. Excellent medical clinics are located near our facilities and on-site leaders support volunteers for the duration of their time with any health or safety needs.
The following practices ensure your volunteer experience with Outreach360 is a safe one.
Full Time Staff
We have a full time international and local staff leading your team in each country. They live and work full-time in country, and facilitate the volunteer experience. Working with people who live in the country where you are serving is key to ensuring your safety – they know the country, the community, and the neighborhood where you will be volunteering. Their first priority is your safety.
Outreach360 works in two of the safest developing countries in the Western Hemisphere. In the Dominican Republic, many of the locals have relatives in North America and the cultural influences from baseball and tourism have created a positive American image that is reflected in how well our volunteers are received. Although Nicaragua is considered the poorest country in Central America, it is also considered one of the safest. Volunteers are kindly greeted by friendly locals.
Outreach360 focuses its development efforts in rural areas far removed from the large cities and tourist areas where crime is more common. We intentionally work in small towns where we can meet the needs of underdeveloped and under-resourced communities, while benefiting from the security of rural areas.
Outreach360 focuses on developing strong relationships and healthy partnerships in the local areas we serve, allowing us to become respected members of the community. Having worked in Monte Cristi in the Dominican Republic since 1994, many members, business, and organizations of the local community have benefited from our efforts and are aware of our work. The community knows us well, and we know the community. Outreach360’s Executive Director, Tom Eklund, was recognized by the mayor of Monte Cristi as an honorary son of the city. Our more recent work in Nicaragua has already made a positive impact on the local community, where the residents of Jinotega know we are making a lasting investment in the community. Alma Fletes, a professional Nicaraguan social worker who grew up in Jinotega, is a full time leader with us in Nicaragua and makes sure operations run smoothly with our local relationships. Outreach360’s strong, long-term relationships in the communities where we serve are important contributing factors to the high level of safety our programs maintain.
Outreach360 intentionally houses volunteers in our facilities where we are able to maintain safe and secure accommodations during your time volunteering. When necessary to accommodate busier weeks with multiple teams, Outreach360 occasionally houses volunteers in well-respected local hotels.
Our trained leaders always carry cell phones and are in communication with in country staff and and our U.S. office. We also take further emergency precautions including having a satellite phone in each country. In the event that local cell networks are down or temporarily cut off, Outreach360 in country staff maintains communication with our U.S. headquarters via our satellite phones.
Common Sense Guidelines
Common sense in a developing country may be different than common sense at home. We educate our volunteers on safe conduct in-country, to avoid unexpected consequences.
Helping our volunteers stay healthy is a top priority of Outreach360. It is rare that a volunteer gets sick or injured. Below are some ways we keep our volunteers healthy:
Full Time Staff
We have a full time international and local staff leading your team in each country. They live and work full-time in country, and facilitate the volunteer experience. Being with people who live in the country your are serving is key to ensuring your personal health. You will be living in the same facilities and eating the same food as our leaders who live there year-round.
Outreach360 Trained Cooks
Your meals will be served at Outreach360 facilities, where you will be eating food prepared by Outreach360 cooks. If you do have an opportunity to eat at a local restaurant, it will be a location approved by Outreach360 staff.
Bottled water is available 24/7 for our volunteers to help keep everyone well hydrated. Purified bottled water is used for cooking in our kitchens.
We encourage our volunteers to use mosquito repellent, especially in the morning and evening. Mosquito nets or screened rooms are provided for all volunteers. With over 17,000 volunteers joining us since 1994, we are not aware of a confirmed case of a volunteer contracting a mosquito borne illness.
Professional Nearby Clinics
Although very uncommon, if a volunteer gets sick to the point of needing medical attention, or receives an injury, there are good private medical clinics near our facilities in both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Outreach360 leaders facilitate the clinic process and assure appropriate translation for receiving treatment.
Common Sense Guidelines
Our leaders keep our volunteers aware of ways to stay healthy, to drink sufficient amounts of water, and being aware of when to where mosquito and bug repellant. We provide guidelines on how to avoid accidents in the area, appropriate precautions when eating in local restaurants, and general common sense guidelines to keep everyone healthy.
There are no required vaccinations in either the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua. A more extensive discussion of medical preparation, including links to the CDC website, is available in the Outreach360 Country Volunteer Guide.