It's International Volunteer Day - What are you doing?
Today is International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development. It’s sponsored by the United Nations and offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make their contributions visible- at local, national and international levels - to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
If you’re still scrambling to find your way to make your mark, check out our Take Action page and our list of volunteer opportunities below. Don’t worry that you have to do it all in one day. Just make today be the day you sign up to make a difference.
Volunteer Opportunities Here and Abroad
We know how it is. You see a problem and can’t wait to get your hands busy fixing it. We’re the same way. That’s what Every Mother Counts is all about, making people aware of the problems and solutions surrounding maternal health and helping all women and their families live their lives to their fullest potential.
We get this question all the time: How can I help?
Over the years we've partnered with many long established humanitarian organizations whose missions involve finding and implementing inspiring, innovative ways to help- but none of us can bring our missions to life without the individual and collective efforts of our supporters. We need your helping hands, whether that’s making phone calls to your Congressmen and Senators, organizing fundraising events, or educating your family and friends about inequities in the world.
But, some people want more direct hands-on experience. They want to see the problems up close and help in a person-to-person way. They want a hammer in their hands, a stethoscope on their neck and an opportunity to walk a mile and see the world through someone else’s eyes. They have time and money to invest in their experience of helping others. Time and time again, these volunteers return home changed, richer and almost always even more committed than when they left.
We’re hearing from countless students who want a meaningful way to spend a gap year and from graduates who want to extend their educations to include real-life experience. We’re hearing from retirees with newfound time to share and people in the middle of careers who want to spend off hours giving back. Whether it’s a few hours or a couple years, we’re excited to see the growing desire to serve others.
We’re seeing more families turn vacations into volunteer trips with destinations like Haiti, Africa and Peru, exposing their children to the world outside our borders. We’re even more excited to see a new generation of humanitarians become aware of how great the need is and inspired to find their own ways to get involved.
That’s why we’ve created a growing list of organizations that accept volunteers, students, medical professionals, families, cooks, mechanics…there’s something for everyone here. While many of these organizations have a maternal health focus, many others match a volunteer’s interests and skills to a project and destination that needs them.
Help us keep the list fresh and thriving by sending us information about other hands-on opportunities both here in the US and abroad.
· Humanitarians At Home: There’s no lack of need right here in the US, where we rank 50th in the world in safe birth outcomes (Amnesty Intnl). We encourage our supporters to reach out to vulnerable women here in our very own communities. There are also countless ways you can help women abroad right from your own home.
· Personal Service: No act of kindness is too small to make a big impact.
Support the girls, women and mothers in your own family, neighborhood, church, school, and community by:
- Helping with homework, childcare, dinner or carpooling,
- Teaching a friend to write a business plan or balance her checkbook.
- Mentoring a local teenager struggling with school or applying to college.
- Shoveling snow, shopping for groceries or running errands for older neighbors.
· The YWCA, one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation, serving over 2 million women, girls and families, is always seeking volunteers to provide services that meet specific community needs like:
- Mentoring teen moms,
- Fundraising for scholarships,
- Helping supply emergency housing projects for homeless women and those experiencing domestic violence
- Providing office support,
- Tutoring English as a second language
· VolunteerMatch.org matches almost 86,000 nonprofits with volunteers in nearly every city in America. Type in your zip code or town and a few words describing the kind of work you want to do. Use their Advanced Search page to filter through opportunities for groups, families, teens, or specific interest areas. Here are a few current examples with maternal health focuses:
- Help Low Birth Weight Development Center find ways to pay for programs
- Mentor teen moms through the New York Youth At Risk program
- Shop flea markets for baby clothing and infant-care items for Newbowns in Need
- Provide skilled medical services for at-risk mothers at The Baby and I Foundation
· Volunteers of America helps 2.5 million individuals and families in 400 communities and 46 states struggling with homelessness, hunger, addiction and those returning from prison, military service, the elderly, and disabled. Log on to find volunteer opportunities in your area.
World Humanitarians at Home: The organizations below and most of those listed on our Partners Page need volunteers willing to work at home and in their own communities to raise awareness, take part in advocacy campaigns and fund raise. These four focus specifically on maternal health issues:
· The Fistula Foundation raises awareness and funding for fistula treatment and educational and prevention programs worldwide. Volunteers engage in advocacy and fundraising activities to raise awareness in their communities.
· One By One contributes to eliminating fistulas worldwide by fundraising, raising awareness and through partnerships with in-country organizations that create programs and mobilize resources to treat and prevent obstetric fistulas. Volunteers are needed for fundraising, awareness and advocacy activities.
· One Heart World-Wide works to prevent deaths of mothers and infants in remote rural areas of the world by surrounding families with a “Network of Safety” to insure survival of pregnancy, childbirth and the first months of life. One Heart Worldwide provides limited travel opportunities to tour service areas. Volunteers fundraise and host events to raise awareness about maternal health issues in their own communities.
· The Afya Foundation provides an up-to-date computer-based online inventory menu for international health organizations and professionals to select warehouse-based medical supplies that match the needs of recipient health centers/patients in Africa. Volunteers are needed to sort supplies, fundraise and for hands-on projects that require specific training and skill to expand services and delivery of goods to underserved populations.
Humanitarians around the world: These organizations provide volunteer opportunities abroad. Keep in mind, in most cases volunteers are required to pay their own way. Prices vary depending on location, length and type of service and program needs, but the return on your investment is guaranteed to be priceless.
· Project HOPE volunteers are doctors, nurses and medical professionals who travel the world on a floating hospital ship, The SS HOPE. They provide medical care, health education and humanitarian assistance in response to emergencies and ongoing need. Duration of volunteer placements vary according to specific needs of a project or country.
· Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres is an international medical humanitarian group of physicians and medical professionals that provides emergency medical care to millions of people in crises in more than 60 countries around the world. Qualified candidates are needed for paid and volunteer positions lasting at least nine to twelve months. Nurse-midwives, certified midwives, obstetricians, gynecologists, operating room nurses, general and orthopedic surgeons, HIV/AIDS and TB specialists are urgently needed. Office positions for non-medical professionals are also available. Benefits may include room and board, salary and transportation.
· Midwife International offers opportunities for midwives to become preceptors, trainers and work on-site at various locations in Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda. Volunteers work in designated sites for 1-year programs or as guest teachers for a minimum two-month rotation.
· Work the World: Health Care Initiatives Overseas offers volunteer opportunities and structured internships in a variety of medical concentrations including midwifery, physical therapy, pharmacy, radiography, dentistry, general medicine and nursing in Africa, Asia, and South America. Lengths of stay vary depending on educational focus, but average two to six weeks.
· Projects Abroad offers opportunities for volunteers ages 16 to 75 of all qualification and experience levels including “gap year” programs and medical internships with focuses in medicine, nursing, midwifery, dentistry, physical, occupational and speech therapy.
· Cross-Cultural Solutions provides volunteer and intern opportunities for people ages 14 and up. Volunteers choose placements that coincide with their interest. Health placements don’t require previous experience and include working in centers for pregnant women in South Africa, conducting HIV/AIDS information sessions, or working in women’s empowerment initiatives.
· Global Health Corps provides yearlong paid fellowships for young professionals from diverse backgrounds to work with high-impact organizations throughout the world on the frontlines of the fight for global health.
· Global Health Services Corps is a unique public-private organization partnered with the Peace Corps. Volunteers become Peace Corps volunteers to provide direct medical care, expert technical support and act as medical and nursing educators in resource-poor settings throughout the world. Duration of service is approximately one year and benefits include potential student loan repayment stipends for qualified individuals.
· Healing Hands Inc. is a faith-based non-profit organization involved in health outreach programs in schools, orphanages, rural communities and prisons in developing countries. Volunteers participate in medical-based programs, such as health education and behavioral counseling, food and nutrition, medical and services, HIV prevention programs, prison outreach programs and workforce training.
· AMREF: Better Health for Africa is an African organization headquartered in Kenya. Their main areas of intervention focus on maternal and child health, HIV and tuberculosis, safe water and sanitation, malaria and essential clinical care. They offer full time, unpaid internships and volunteer opportunities for eligible students and non-students for three to six month periods.
· Hamlin Fistula International – founded by Drs. Reginald and Catherine Hamlin, The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia is the only hospital of its kind in the world providing care exclusively for women with obstetric fistulas. While the hospital only occasionally accepts skilled volunteers, opportunities with their Partner Trusts open more frequently.
· Advance-Africa offers a variety of volunteer opportunities including its Medical Electives program, designed to meet the needs of students training to be doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, nurses and midwives. Placements are available to students at any stage of their studies and those who want to broaden their experience after graduation.
· The Mountain Fund works to eliminate poverty in rural mountain communities in developing countries including Nepal and Peru by focusing on the needs of women and girls through healthcare, education, economic opportunities and human rights. They welcome volunteers with medical and non-medical expertise to participate in a variety of programs including medical treks to provide basic healthcare in remote areas. Additional opportunities include month-long programs for medical professionals who work one week at a Kathmandu hospital and three weeks in a rural health facility.
· Global Village International offers over 100 volunteer travel opportunities ranging from one week to two years in more than 40 countries in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and Central America. Projects are available with a wide range of focuses including education, healthcare, climate change and environment, sports, wildlife and marine conservation, construction and children’s services.
· Faith in Practice is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian organization working to improve physical, spiritual, and economic conditions in Guatemala through short-term surgical, medical and dental mission trips and health-related educational programs. Volunteers from all faiths and those with no religious affiliation are welcomed into this non-denominational program. Seven-day missions are open to medical and non-medical experts.
· The Shanti Uganda Society improves infant and maternal health, provides safe women-centered care and supports the wellbeing of birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. The volunteer program is open to student interns, development practitioners and specialists, midwives, doulas, health and birth educators, yoga teachers, permaculture experts and anyone who is passionate about service, social justice and community-based development. While there’s a special need for midwives and women’s health professionals, everyone is welcome to apply.
· Forever Angels Baby Home in Mwanza, Tanzania provides a stable, loving home for up to 50 orphaned, abandoned and severely disadvantaged babies and children from 0 to 5 years. Staffed by trained Tanzanian caregivers Forever Angels provides support until the child is fostered, adopted or reunited with their family. Volunteers from all walks of life are needed, especially those with experience in childcare, teaching, nursing, physiotherapy, play therapy, psychology, massage and plumbers, electricians, carpenters, farmers and gardeners. Lengths of stay vary, but most volunteers invest two or more months.
· The Foundation for African Medicine & Education (FAME) Africa aims to enhance the quality of medical care in East Africa and to create educational opportunities for individuals who express an interest in contributing back to their communities. FAME provides on-site care in Karatu, Tanzania, mobile medicine in remota areas of Tanzania, as well as sponsorship and volunteer opportunities. You can volunteer, support a FAME healthworker, and/or sponsor nursing or medical students.
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