“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi
Where we work;
- Dominican Republic
Who can participate;
1. Eye care professionals
2. Students in Optometry & pre- Optometry
3. Faculty led groups
4. Family volunteer groups
5. Non-professional volunteers
- Volunteer Opportunities
- Preparing for your trip
- How to Sign Up
- What to bring on missions
- A typical day in Missions
- Accommodation and Food
Access to eye care is extremely limited in developing countries,and remains one of the most crucial needs. School going children with easily correctable problems like near and distance vision continue to suffer, and their parents cannot afford basic eye exams and eyewear. Participating in learning and extra curricular activities is a challenge if their vision does not function properly.
Azma International partners with local eye care professionals to provide eye care to underserved people in the remote villages and towns in Kenya, Peru and Guatemala. We take our eye clinics to schools, children homes, local clinics and community centers.
We provide free eye exams, glasses, eye drops, medicines and health education among other vision correction services. We also teach eye health and common eye diseases in local communities during our mission clinics.
1. Volunteers must be over 18 years old or accompanied by an adult
2. Eye care professionals must provide proof of work or experience in the medical field.
3. Non-professional volunteers do not need to have any previous experience in optometry. Whether you are a student, family, friends or social group,we have plenty of important duties for you in each eye mission.
Duties for medical volunteers
1. Basic screenings exams
2. Eyewear distribution
3. Testing and recording visual acuity
4. Provide basic eye care instructions
5. Dispensing medications
6. Health Education
Duties for non-medical volunteers include
1. Clinic setup
2. Intake and registrations of patients
3. Translators, if you are fluent in the local language
4. Distributing glasses
4. Assist in pharmacy, counting and distributing medicines
5. Crowd control, to maintain order in large crowds.
Volunteer safety and security is our priority. It is also a big concerns for most people traveling to developing countries and their friends and families as well. While there is no way to eliminate all risk, Azma International does as much as they can to reduce any dangers. Volunteer coordinators and supervisors live and work side by side with the volunteers at all times, other than any free time where volunteers choose to spend how they like.
Safety at the volunteer placement.
We do our best to have our volunteer placements in towns that are safe for volunteers to visit and work in.There are also tourist police officers whose work is to take care of you, the visitor. Just like any other country and town, you have to use common sense and take appropriate precautions. For example, make sure that you have your valuables kept well somewhere you can feel them, especially when you are in crowded places. Always remember that while locals are generally a very friendly people, you are far richer and more fortunate than most local people you will meet, making you a tempting target for pickpockets. It is important to keep in mind that most tourists in the towns we work in never experience any trouble. We will provide you with detailed information about security during your volunteer orientation.
Bodily Harm In almost all Azma International program locations, the potential for violent bodily harm like physical assault is significantly less than that encountered in large American cities. Volunteers travel around in company, with a fellow volunteer, local staff or a host family member.
We select appropriate work activities, with safety of the volunteer in mind. We do no projects, for example, on high ladders or handling heavy duty machinery or equipment. We handle no bodily fluids. We avoid program locations with significant risk for major illness outbreaks, such as Ebola.
Illness and Injury
Most of our projects are relatively low on the manual labor scale, and are chosen with a high degree of safety in mind. However anyone can twist an ankle anywhere in the world, particularly in places with cobblestone streets. Likewise anyone can catch a cold or get sick to their stomachs. We recommend volunteers get a travel insurance cover. In the event of any illness or injury, the volunteer coordinator accompanies the affected volunteer to the closest trusted medical facility, and stays in communication with headquarters and the volunteer’s emergency contact regarding the situation. The most common physical ailment on our programs in altitude sickness at our Huancayo program in Peru, which can be mitigated by drinking water and taking it easy in your first week.
In many of our program locations, the local population is far less materially advantaged that that of our volunteers. Yet theft while at work site or at accommodations is incredibly rare. However when volunteers spend free time in crowded places, like markets, possessions such as fancy cameras or watches should be kept out of site to minimize the chance of being pick pocketed. There is a higher rate of petty theft in many of our program locations than what our volunteers are usually accustomed to in their home setting. Hence it is a good idea to leave designer clothing and bags at home.
Food And Water
All water is either bottled or boiled. All food is prepared fresh from locally purchased sources. Community hosts have been well instructed in preparing food with delicate stomachs in mind. We communicate any dietary restrictions or allergies to the host families.
Traveling Alone is okay
Because our programs are typically small groups, volunteers never are fully alone. The coordinator and fellow volunteers, along with the local staff and host are there to help, they are your companions. Any travel comes with certain risks, and travel with Azma International is no different. Of course all reasonable precautions will be made to prevent any dangers. Travel to different countries mean that conditions will vary, sometimes quite significantly, from those in the United States. These reasons are some of the primary reasons volunteers are drawn to Azma International adventures, but can also be the basis for possible risks. For example, the condition of roads, infrastructure (such as phone lines, water lines, etc) and hygiene conditions, are likely to differ from, and often be considered inferior to, those found in the volunteers’ home. In addition, Azma International cannot be held responsible for forces of God, war, public transportation, level of medical service, availability of medical treatment and medical personnel, political stability, and the like.
The volunteers should also be aware that environmental conditions may provide certain challenges to some. For example, higher altitudes in some locales may mean volunteers with difficulty breathing may find it even more difficult in new climates. For those with sensitivity to dryness, certain climates may be uncomfortable.
How to prepare for your trip
You need a valid passport to travel to another country. Apply for your passport early in advance to avoid delay in your travel plans. Whether it’s your first time applying for a passport or only need to renew an old one, you should start the process early. Volunteers who already have passports must make sure the passport ise valid for atleast six months before expiration date and must have at least one blank page for immigration use and to affix the visa. Volunteers are responsible for obtaining or renewing their passports.
You will need some kind of vaccination before travelling to most countries overseas. We refer all volunteers to information provided by Center for Disease control at www.cdc.gov/travel to learn more on required vaccinations. We also recommend you consult with your physician, he will know which type of vaccination and anti-malaria medication (if travelling to Kenya) to prescribe to you depending on your medical history and allergies. Please note the different recommendations for the country you are visiting and also the region you will be staying. We have included a list of the recommended vaccinations and health safety tips specific to the country you are going to in the Volunteer packet we will send you, once you sign up to volunteer with us and select your country of choice. Recommended immunizations might include; -Yellow fever – Hepatitis A – Diphtheria/Tetanus – Typhoid – Malaria – Hepatitis B
3. Dress code
Clothing that is fashionable and appropriate in the USA and Europe may project a provocative image in another culture. Leave the revealing clothing at home. There are cultural differences to note. The principle factor to be aware of especially for a woman traveling alone is that you may attract unwanted attention in certain areas of Africa and Latin America (in the form of catcalls and the like) if you dress in short skirts or really short shorts, or wear spaghetti straps. Likewise, you may be seen as disrespectful in you have uncovered shoulders, knees, or the heels of your feet as you enter a Buddhist temple. Also, check on the weather for the period you will be in the host country and pack appropriately.
4. Coping with jet lag
If you’ve ever done any long distance travel, you’ve probably experienced jet lag and the host of symptoms that accompanies it – dehydration, nausea, swollen feet, fatigue, headaches, dry eyes and disrupted sleep patterns, among others.Jet lag occurs when your body’s internal clock – known as the circadian clock – is out of sync with your surroundings. Crossing time zones is the main cause of jet lag, although a number of factors, including cabin pressure, stale air and high altitude also contribute to this unpleasant travel-related condition. International travelers who pass through more than one time zone are especially susceptible to jet lag. On long trips, however, travelers should try to adjust to their new time zones as quickly as possible. Remember that you want to adjust to the local time as soon as possible.
Therefore if you arrive at 2pm in your destination, and take a nap, you are likely to sleep for several hours and thereby put-off your adjustment to the new time zone. Try as HARD as you can to stay awake until your normal bedtime on the 1st few days. Another common effect of jet lag is that the traveler will wake at 3am and find it extremely difficult to get back to sleep. Explore options for sleep aids with your doctor prior to your trip. Drink water. Prevent dehydration by drinking at least two eight-ounce glasses of water before you get on the plane. And don’t forget your H2O once you are in the air. Slip a plastic bottle of water in the seat pocket so you can to drink whenever you’re thirsty. And skip the peanuts, pretzels and other salty snacks that can speed up dehydration.Pack sleeping aids. Bring earplugs, eyeshades, a pillow or whatever makes you comfortable, especially on a red-eye flight.
5. Coming Home After a Mission trip
Transition May Be Hard. Allow yourself time to process your overseas experiences and re-adjust to life at home. The longer you were overseas and the more culturally immersed you were, the harder the re-entry process will be. Keeping a journal and making a scrapbook while your memories are fresh can help you through the reverse culture shock experience. Recognize your emotional vulnerability and avoid making major life decisions until you feel grounded. Do what you have to do to maintain-or regain-spiritual balance: go for long walks, meditate, or practice the rituals of your faith or tradition.
6. Make Connections
Maintain contact with friends overseas. You can contact other people going to the same country as you and get to know them beforehand. Try to identify ways to build community with those who share your interest in the country from which you have returned.
5. Get Involved
Many people return from overseas with more questions than answers. If you have returned from a low-income country, take the time to educate yourself about the root causes of the “underdevelopment” and poverty you may have experienced. Write a testimonial, we will share your review so other volunteers can learn from your experience. You can share your experience in you class, club, family, friends, and other groups. You can start a discussion group to explore the history of the area where you worked or traveled, or take a class to study the literature from that region. As global news coverage is notoriously weak in North America, seek alternative sources of information like online newspapers.
The booking process has four simple steps:
Step 1: Select a destination and program
Choose the country you wish to volunteer in, volunteering period, and volunteer program that you are most interested in. Once you decide on a volunteer program, fill out the rest of your information on the online application form. If you are not decided on program and country, contact us and our program specialists will guide you through the choices to determine which one suits you the best.
Step 2: Reserve your spot Pay $25 USD application fee to secure your volunteer placement with us. Enter your payment information to pay this $25 non- refundable fee. Once we receive your $25 fee, we reserve your spot and start preparing a volunteer placement for you. We will send you a Volunteer Orientation Booklet to help you prepare for your trip. The information booklet provides important details about your trip, such as vaccinations, visas, what to pack, information about your placement and local customs. To secure your spot now, click here.
Step 3 : Finalize An Azma International staff member will contact you within 48 hours to confirm the details of your work placement. The Azma staff member assigned to you will work with you to create a volunteer program that fits your interests and skills, and answer any questions that you might have. You are now ready to plan your trip!
Step 4 : Confirmation We will send you a confirmation letter with details on where you will work and live. We also send you instructions on how to pay the placement fee. Congratulations on your choice to volunteer with us! If you have any questions about your upcoming stay in one of these countries, please contact us. We are happy to assist you if you have any questions. We are here to take care of you every step of the way until the completion of your trip. Happy Volunteering!
What to Bring on Missions
Packing for a mission trip requires careful planning. Factors to consider include type of mission, weather at your destination, culture, required dress code and much more.
Once you sign up for a trip, we will send you an orientation packet with a packing checklist specific to your mission trip.
A typical day in Dental care mission clinics
Daily schedules, meals, and free time activities may vary depending on the details of your mission.
A typical day for a volunteer usually looks like this:
7:00 am – 7:30 am: Breakfast with host family.
7:30am – 8:30 am: Leave for your volunteer placement by walking or public transport
8:30am -12.30pm: Work begins at your volunteer placement
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Lunch with your host family
2:00pm – 4:00 pm: Walk to language school for afternoon Spanish classes.
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Free time to hang out with other volunteers or new friends, practice Spanish with the locals, or explore the town and beautiful cathedrals.
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Evening Spanish classes.
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Dinner with your host family.
Accommodation and Meals
Volunteer accommodation during missions is in home stays, volunteer house, guest house, hostel or a hotel. Host families offer a safe home, comfortable rooms and shared bathroom facilities with running water. Occasionally rooms will be shared with other same-gender volunteers. We work with a group of dedicated and carefully selected families who have hosted volunteers in their homes for a long time.
Volunteer houses, guest houses and hostel accommodations include room, 3 meals a day, shared or private bathroom and purified water. Any special dietary needs can be arranged. The type of food served in each mission will depend on the country and culture.
Click here to sign up for upcoming dental mission trips.