Traveling abroad can make even the most accomplished volunteer explorer nervous; however, with Outreach360, you will not have to be. Outreach360 offers volunteer programs for individuals of all ages and strives to provide a safe and health conscientious environment supported by staff and local community members.
Why does this matter? Because your health and safety matters to us.
Since 1994, Outreach360 has hosted over 22,000 volunteers who have enjoyed a healthy and safe volunteer experience in both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. There are several factors that make our organization safe, including our highly trained staff, our well-accommodated facilities, and our developed community relationships. Outreach360 aims to anticipate the health needs of our volunteers before their arrival in-country, and our staff is knowledgeable of local clinics and pharmacies.
Safe Travels are Happy Travels
Outreach360 has perfected safety practices that have maintained our volunteers’ well-being for over twenty years. We owe a lot of these practices to our full-time staff members. Outreach360 team leaders are hired from the local communities our organization is housed in.
Coco Barrett, the Outreach360 Nicaragua Country Director, explains, “I am proud that Outreach360 makes health and safety a top priority. We have a professional leadership team made up primarily of local and international staff who live in the communities where we serve and who have been trained in emergency preparedness. We take the time to educate our volunteers about our guidelines on how to avoid accidents and for staying healthy, safe and being respectful while serving in country. We have connections with and are respected by the Jinotega community.”
We intentionally hire local staff because we recognize that working with people who live in the country is key to ensuring your safety – they know the country, the community, and the neighborhood where you will be volunteering. Furthermore, volunteers are instructed by our staff on how to be safe while exploring a new city. We educate our volunteers on safe conduct in-country, to avoid unexpected consequences. Our staff’s insight keeps our volunteers safe in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
But wait, there’s a lot more.
Outreach360 works in two of the safest developing countries in the Western Hemisphere. We have chosen these countries with our volunteers in mind. We have worked tirelessly to build strong community relationships in the cities we work in. Having worked in Monte Cristi in the Dominican Republic since 1994, many members, businesses, and organizations in the local community have benefited from Outreach360’s efforts and are aware of our work. The community knows us well, and we know the community.
Fun fact: Outreach360’s Executive Director, Tom Eklund, was recognized by the mayor of Monte Cristi as an honorary son of the city.
We have worked to develop strong community relationships in Nicaragua as well. Although our work in Nicaragua is more recent, Outreach360 has already made a positive impact on the local community, where the residents of Jinotega know we are making a lasting investment. 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.
In addition, Outreach360 intentionally houses volunteers in our facilities, where we are able to maintain safe and secure accommodations during your time volunteering. The neighborhoods in which our volunteers stay are safe and welcoming. When necessary to accommodate busier weeks with multiple volunteer teams, Outreach360 occasionally houses volunteers in well-respected local hotels that are always a short walk away from the Outreach360 volunteer houses.
But what will you do in case of an emergency? We’ll tell you: let Outreach360 take care of you.
Our trained leaders always carry cell phones and are in communication with in-country staff and our U.S. office. Outreach360 also takes 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. We know that safety means safeguarding communication, and we have taken measures to ensure that assistance is just one phone call away.
Outreach360 Wants You To Be Healthy
In the decades that Outreach360 has been established, it is rare for a volunteer to become sick or injured during their volunteer experience. Regardless, Outreach360 has taken every precaution to ensure your health and wellness because you matter to us.
Our local staff is trained to address health concerns. Being with people who live in the country you are serving is key to ensuring your personal health. Our leaders keep our volunteers aware of ways to stay healthy, to drink sufficient amounts of water, and being aware of when and where to wear mosquito and bug repellent. 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.
“One of the things I like best about this trip is that it is a great introduction to service for a lot of our kids in technically a third world environment that is still safe. We feel comfortable with them experiencing some different conditions than they are used to but in terms of how the food is prepared and the safety precautions taken we don’t feel as though we are putting them at risk and yet exposing them to an opportunity to see a completely different part of the world,” Amy Vachris, a St. Mark’s High School teacher, said.
The Outreach360 Kitchen Staff are professionally trained cooks that prepare meals for volunteers daily at the volunteer housing facilities. Our cooks are trained to cook only with purified water. Dietary needs will be accommodated during your stay in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Staff members encourage volunteers to sample local cuisine at restaurants and shops. If you do have an opportunity to eat at a local restaurant, it will be a location approved by Outreach360 staff, meaning that location has high sanitary standards. Bottled water is available 24/7 for our volunteers to help keep everyone well hydrated as well.
What about the mosquitos? Don’t believe the buzz. Outreach360 has got you covered.
We encourage our volunteers to use mosquito repellent, especially in the morning and evening. Mosquito nets or screened rooms are provided for all volunteers. Vaccinations are up to volunteer discretion. 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. With over 22,000 volunteers joining us since 1994, we are not aware of a confirmed case of a volunteer contracting a mosquito-borne illness.
Although very uncommon, if a volunteer gets sick to the point of needing medical attention, or receives an injury, there are equipped private medical clinics near our facilities in both the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Staff members will point out the closest pharmacies and clinics for volunteer access during the city tour on the first day of your arrival. In case of a medical emergency, you will not go to the clinic alone. Outreach360 leaders facilitate the clinic process and assure appropriate translation for receiving treatment.