Safety: Information For Families
Information for families
It can be a stressful experience to have a family member travel abroad. We take the wellbeing of our volunteers very seriously, safety is our #1 priority. MEDLIFE has run Service Learning Trips since 2005 and is well prepared to handle any situation that may arise.
About MEDLIFE SLTs
What will my child do on the service trip?
On a Mobile Clinic, volunteers visit a different community each day with MEDLIFE staff and a team of local healthcare practitioners. Volunteers will shadow and assist professionals at a variety of stations such as general medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, etc.
Where do volunteers stay?
Volunteers stay as a group in a hostel. Depending on the location, volunteers will be roomed with one other person up to five other volunteers of the same gender. Hostels are located in safe areas, many of which are walkable distances from city/town centers.
Will staff members always be with the group?
During the service days, volunteers will be with multiple MEDLIFE staff members. Additionally, there will be at least one staff member staying at the hostel available for any emergencies. In the afternoons and on weekends, volunteers will have free time during which they may go off on their own in small groups.
Health and Safety
What happens if my child gets sick?
If a volunteer becomes ill, they will always have the option to visit a local hospital or clinic. Volunteers receive basic insurance through MEDLIFE but it may come with a deductible. MEDLIFE staff will always accompany volunteers and will keep parents/emergency contacts informed of their progress.
How much cash should my child take?
Volunteers should travel with about $200 USD and we recommend changing money in the country to ensure a better exchange rate. Volunteers should also bring a Credit or Debit card with them in case of an emergency. Please consult with your bank to determine additional transaction fees for purchases abroad.
What if there is a security situation during the trip?
MEDLIFE is constantly evaluating risks that may affect the safety and security of our volunteers. MEDLIFE is headquartered in Lima, Peru and employs local staff members across remote offices in all locations where we work. This puts us in a position to closely monitor local conditions and act quickly should a situation arise. Additionally, we stay up to date on all local media and national news as well as US State Department Advisories and the Canadian Government’s webpage.
If a situation becomes dangerous, we will act quickly to ensure the safety of all volunteers. Additionally, MEDLIFE provides insurance to all volunteers which includes emergency medical, political, terrorism, and natural disaster evacuation coverage.
- U.S. State Department
- Students Abroad (U.S. State Department)
- Canada Travel
- U.K. Foreign Travel Advice
- Center for Disease Control
Will I be able to communicate with my child during the trip?
Volunteers will have internet access throughout the week. In most locations, hotels will have wifi, in some sites volunteers may need to go to a cafe or restaurant to use wifi. Prior to the start of the trip, volunteers will receive emergency contact information for contacting site leaders. We encourage volunteers to share this information with their families prior to travel. Families can then contact the location leader who can connect with the volunteer.
Additionally, volunteers may choose to purchase international plans. Volunteers will have good reception in the afternoons and evenings, however, during the day when they are in the communities, reception may be limited and volunteers are encouraged to keep phones away during service hours.
Prior to the start of the trip, volunteers will receive emergency contact information for contacting site leaders. We encourage volunteers to share this information with their families prior to travel.
Should volunteers purchase international insurance?
International health insurance is included in the MEDLIFE donation goal. For a complete list of details please see here. If volunteers would like to purchase additional insurance they are more than welcome to do so. It is always advisable to check with home insurance providers to see what international coverage may be provided. Please note that MEDLIFE insurance is emergency insurance (health, evacuation, etc) and does not cover things such as lost luggage or trip/airfare cancellation.
Passport, visas and flights
All volunteers must have a passport valid for six months after travel. We recommend renewing any passport set to expire during that time as some countries and airlines may restrict travel for those who don’t comply.
Are visas required in any of the countries where MEDLIFE works?
Citizens of the U.S., Canada, the U.K, Australia, and the E.U. do not need a visa to travel to any of our Latin American locations. Citizens of other countries (including Green Card holders) should confirm if there are entry requirements of which to be mindful.
For Tanzania, all travelers must pay either $100 USD upon entry (U.S. citizens) / $50 USD (Canadian, U.K., Australian, and E.U. citizens). Please make sure your child has at least this amount in cash to pay the country entry fee. Additionally, volunteer visas are required in Tanzania. MEDLIFE will arrange this and will send an invoice of $206 prior to the start of the trip.
Does MEDLIFE take care of flights?
Volunteers are responsible for purchasing their own flights. If Chapters or other groups are interested in purchasing group airfare, we recommend STA travel, a travel service which works to provide low prices for group travel. For more information, check the STA Travel Booking Procedures and Services.