Frequently Asked Questions
- What is MEDLIFE doing to ensure I don’t get COVID-19 on an SLT?
- What happens if I have a positive COVID-19 test and cannot travel?
- What happens if I develop symptoms of COVID-19 during my trip?
- What happens if I have a positive COVID-19 test in-country?
- Can I go home if I test positive for COVID-19?
- If I purchased additional insurance, can I be evacuated?
- Will there be extra costs if I am required to quarantine or delay my return?
- How do I join a Service Learning Trip?
- What makes a MEDLIFE Service Learning Trip unique?
- Where can I attend a Service Learning Trip?
- When does MEDLIFE host Service Learning Trips?
- Who can volunteer on a Service Learning Trip?
- What is the minimum number of volunteers needed to confirm a Service Learning Trip?
- Do I need to speak the local language?
Fundraising and Donations
- What is the Service Learning Trip donation goal?
- What does the donation goal cover?
- Do I have any additional financial obligations?
- How do I make payment towards my SLT?
- What would happen if a Service Learning Trip does not meet the minimum number of volunteers?
- What happens if I end up canceling my trip?
- After I pay the $200 non-refundable deposit, when do I need to pay the remaining donation goal?
- What are the passport and visa requirements?
- How do I purchase my airfare?
- What do I do if I am arriving outside of the timeframes listed?
- What vaccinations do I need?
- Am I required to purchase travel health insurance?
- How much spending money do I need?
- How can I exchange money?
- What should I pack?
- Will my electrical appliances work abroad?
- Should I bring medical donations? What are MEDLIFE's supply needs?
- How can my Student Chapter prepare for a Mobile Clinic?
The Service Learning Trip Experience
- Who will pick me up from the airport?
- What should I do if my flight is delayed or canceled?
- Who leads the Service Learning Trips?
- What happens to our patients after a Mobile Clinic ends?
- Where do volunteers stay?
- What kinds of meals will be provided?
- What if I have dietary restrictions?
- What is the weather like?
- What does a volunteer do?
- How many students volunteer on each Service Learning Trip?
- What safety precautions does MEDLIFE have in place?
- What happens if there is an emergency?
- Does the hotel have wifi? Will I need to bring my computer?
- What are grounds for dismissal from a Mobile Clinic and subsequent consequences if forced to leave?
- Are there cultural norms I should be aware of in the countries I will visit?
- Are there any restrictions or requirements for what clothing I should wear?
- What if I need to return home early from a trip due to illness, family emergency, etc? Is there any sort of financial reimbursement?
- How do room arrangements work?
What is MEDLIFE doing to ensure I don’t get COVID-19 on an SLT?
MEDLIFE cannot ensure that participants don’t contract COVID-19. We continue to be in a global pandemic, and the risk is still there, as it is in our home countries. It would be irresponsible of our organization if we didn’t take the time to ensure participants are informed and understand the risk (and rewards) of participating in a Service Learning Trip. The ultimate decision on participating or not is up to the individual. Given the nature of SLTs and the variety of services involved – flights, transfers, hotels, restaurants, mobile clinics, development projects, and more – it is impossible to avoid potential exposure. With that said, there are a number of proactive measures we are introducing for future trips:
- COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements: All volunteers must present proof of full vaccination as per latest government recommendations during the trip booking process. Unvaccinated volunteers will not be permitted to participate.
- COVID-19 Insurance Coverage Options: As with any SLT, medical emergency insurance is included. This will include coverage for medical emergencies related to COVID-19. In addition, we will provide more extensive COVID-19 insurance coverage options for participants at an additional cost. We strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance for all travelers.
- COVID-19 Waiver: All SLT participants, must sign a waiver agreeing that MEDLIFE is not responsible should you contract COVID-19 on an SLT.
- Pre-Trip Safety Review: Attending the Pre-Trip Safety review is mandatory and is aimed to ensure that all participants are aware of MEDLIFE procedures, precautions, and protocols and are able to make a fully informed decision should they wish to participate (or not). We will also use this time to discuss some of the insurance coverage options available.
- Revamped Safety Briefing: Our safety briefings upon arrival in-country will now be more extensive, and include new protective equipment along with N95 masks. We will fit all masks in our safety briefing and review safety protocols prior to going on site.
- Triage on Mobile Clinics: Any patients exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will be screened by a medical professional and separated to avoid contact with trip participants.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements: All volunteers must present proof of full vaccination as per latest government recommendations during the trip booking process. Unvaccinated volunteers will not be permitted to participate.
What happens if I have a positive COVID-19 test and cannot travel?
If you test positive to COVID-19 and cannot travel, you will be unable to participate in your trip. Send an email to [email protected] or contact us by phone and we will work with you to find another trip that might work for you. Your trip is non-refundable, but we will be happy to move you to a future Service Learning Trip. Consider booking travel insurance which includes trip cancellation.
What happens if I develop symptoms of COVID-19 during my trip?
In the event you that experience symptoms for COVID-19, the following measures will be taken:
- You will be isolated from the group in a single room and removal from the day’s activities.
- We will facilitate a COVID-19 antigen test on-site
- If negative – you will isolate 24 hours as we review your symptoms. If your symptoms are resolved, you can continue with the program. If not, you will continue to isolate.
- If positive – see the following question.
What happens if I have a positive COVID-19 test in-country?
In the event that you test positive for COVID-19 during your Service Learning Trip, you will be isolated in a single room in the hotel or a suitable alternative for 14 days, or whatever duration is mandated by the local government. We will arrange the following:
- A meal plan for food to be delivered.
- Phone and internet access.
- A medical professional will contact you regularly to evaluate the development of any symptoms.
- Assistance in contacting your travel insurance provider to open a claim.
- Assistance in contacting your airline and arranging local ground transport to return to the airport and board your flight home when you are able.
Can I go home if I test positive for COVID-19?
At this time, no. As per government regulations, if you test positive for COVID-19 you must isolate for 14 days, until you test negative, or until you receive documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19.
If I purchased additional insurance, can I be evacuated?
If you test positive for COVID-19 you will be unable to travel until you test negative or receive documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 (even if you have no symptoms). This could mean two weeks quarantining in-country. If you are in hospital due to COVID-19, MEDLIFE will assist in contacting your insurance company. An evacuation to your home country would only be considered in the event of a medical emergency and would need approval from your emergency medical insurance provider. See your insurance policy for more details. To learn more about the insurance options available, contact [email protected].
Will there be extra costs if I am required to quarantine or delay my return?
Any costs that are not covered by travel insurance will be the sole responsibility of the traveler. MEDLIFE will support participants in making necessary arrangements but is unable to assume any additional costs related to travel delay or disruption.
How do I join a Service Learning Trip?
We are so excited you are thinking of volunteering on a MEDLIFE Service Learning Trip. To join a trip, visit the MyMEDLIFE website and select your preferred trip dates. Click ‘Book Now,’ fill out your personal details, and pay the $200 deposit. Your spot on the Service Learning Trip will be reserved!
What makes a MEDLIFE Service Learning Trip unique?
There are many organizations that offer mission trips to undergraduate students and volunteers. Why should you choose a MEDLIFE Service Learning Trip? Because we provide more for our patients, community members, and volunteers.
For our patients:
We bring more than just a doctor and some medication. All Mobile Clinics are staffed by local dentists, gynecologists, nurses, and primary care doctors. We equip these professionals with the tools and supplies they need so that we can offer more than just a consult.
We hire local doctors and specialists. Local doctors have essential knowledge of the language, culture, and existing healthcare system of their country. They are also familiar with the symptoms and treatments of common ailments to provide our patients with a higher degree of care than would a foreign professional.
We provide follow-up care. MEDLIFE has employees in Ecuador, Peru, and Tanzania who dedicate themselves to follow-up care with our patients year-round. When MEDLIFE sees patients during a Mobile Clinic who require additional services, we make a commitment to return and help them get the medical support they need.
- Our Service Learning Trips serve as the first point of contact between MEDLIFE and impoverished communities. This introduction may lead to further collaboration through sustainable development projects such as infrastructure projects, education programs, and more. In this way, Service Learning Trips are an essential part of MEDLIFE’s plan to bring sustainable forms of aid to the communities and families we serve.
For our volunteers:
Mobile Clinics: Volunteers have the opportunity to work closely with and learn from our medical professionals, community leaders, and MEDLIFE staff. All MEDLIFE doctors are instructed to give our volunteers an educational, hands-on experience while they’re volunteering their time at our clinics.
- Community Development: Infrastructure projects give volunteers a chance to work alongside community members and connect with them outside of the clinic setting.
- MEDLIFE Student Chapters: MEDLIFE is an organization that relies heavily upon the contributions of our Chapters. A university or high school group provides a forum in which students who share the goal of spreading the Movement can meet to discuss global health topics, socialize, and plan for Service Learning Trips and fundraising events.
- Further Opportunities: MEDLIFE places a great degree of responsibility on motivated undergraduate and high school student leaders who wish to become involved beyond the member level. Dedicated MEDLIFE members can apply to join the Student Advisory Board or to a local Chapter E-Board position. MEDLIFE also offers summer and year-round internships that allow students to make a direct contribution to our efforts in Latin America. Read about all our leadership opportunities here.
- Making a Difference: MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics have provided medical care to thousands of community members in Peru, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Tanzania who previously did not have access to quality healthcare. The MEDLIFE Project Fund projects have also had a long-term positive effect on communities. MEDLIFE strives to make a lasting and significant difference in needy areas. Join us on an SLT!
Where can I attend a Service Learning Trip?
MEDLIFE organizes Service Learning Trips in several locations: Lima, Peru; Cusco, Peru; Riobamba, Ecuador; Tena, Ecuador; and Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
We are constantly growing the MEDLIFE Movement, and hope to expand in the coming years bringing our work to other nations in Latin America and Africa.
When does MEDLIFE host Service Learning Trips?
MEDLIFE offers several different Service Learning Trip options during students’ winter, spring, and summer breaks. A list of upcoming Service Learning Trips can be found here.
Who can volunteer on a Service Learning Trip?
Anyone can volunteer on a Service Learning Trip! You do not need to be a current member of a MEDLIFE Chapter to serve as a volunteer.
What is the minimum number of volunteers needed to confirm a Service Learning Trip?
MEDLIFE requires a commitment from a minimum of 20 volunteers to confirm a Service Learning Trip. Groups who wish to arrange a Service Learning Trip for dates not currently listed on the website may contact MEDLIFE at [email protected].
Do I need to speak the local language?
Service Learning Trip volunteers are not required to speak Spanish or Swahili, nor to have any previous medical experience. That being said, we encourage volunteers to familiarize themselves with basic phrases in the local language, as well as the medical and cultural landscape in the country they plan to visit.
Fundraising and Donations
What is the Service Learning Trip donation goal?
In order to sustain our year-round work, every MEDLIFE volunteer is required to meet a donation goal to participate in their Service Learning Trip. The goal for volunteering in a one-week Service Learning Trip (including the $200 deposit), is $1190. This does not include airfare.
What does the donation goal cover?
This donation goal covers all meals Monday through Friday (the volunteer is responsible for meals over the weekend), in-country transportation (including airport pick-up and drop-off on the Service Learning Trip start and end dates), and lodging (eight nights) during the Service Learning Trip.
It also provides funding for all expenses associated with the volunteering itself (the hiring of doctors and nurses, purchase of medicine and equipment, etc.). Finally, the donation goal funds all aspects of MEDLIFE’s operating budget covering everything from staff salaries to office equipment to medical supplies, as well as patient follow-up care. Airfare is not included in the donation goal.
Do I have any additional financial obligations?
Volunteers are required to cover their own meals and expenses during the weekend. If you wish to arrive early or stay beyond the program dates, you will be responsible for your own expenses, including hotel, meals, transportation, etc. during that time.
You should have access to enough money to cover additional snacks, drinks, souvenirs, etc.
Cash only is preferred in Ecuador (Canadian dollars are not easy to exchange in Ecuador, so be sure to have USD). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Peru.
How do I make payment towards my SLT?
You will find a link to a webpage where you can make additional payments in the email you received from the Checkfront platform following your initial registration and payment of the deposit.
In the event that you cannot pay online, please send an email to [email protected] stating your intention to do so, along with the dates and location of your Service Learning Trip. A MEDLIFE staff member will get back to you with information on how to proceed. This email must be sent at least 24 hours before the donation goal deadline.
What would happen if a Service Learning Trip does not meet the minimum number of volunteers?
If registration does not meet the minimum number of required volunteers by the trip deadline, the Service Learning Trip will be canceled and the MEDLIFE team will work with volunteers to find a new trip that works with their schedule. If for any reason there are no other trips that work for the volunteer, said volunteer may choose to allocate their funds raised to a different volunteer. If this option also does not suit the volunteer, all donations will be used to support the mission of MEDLIFE.
What happens if I end up canceling my trip?
If you cancel your trip more than 45 days prior to departure, MEDLIFE will retain 100% of your deposit. If you cancel your trip between 44-30 days prior to departure, MEDLIFE will retain 50% of your trip payment as a cancellation penalty. If you cancel your trip 29 days or less prior to the start date, your trip payment is 100% non-refundable.
To cancel, please send an email to [email protected] listing your name and the dates and location of the Service Learning Trip you are registered to attend.
After I pay the $200 non-refundable deposit, when do I need to pay the remaining donation goal?
The donation goal must be paid in full 45 days prior to the start date of the SLT.
What are the passport and visa requirements?
For most SLT volunteers the only requirement to enter countries where we have Mobile Clinics is a current passport that will be valid at least six months after your trip. However, some countries have additional requirements:
To enter Tanzania: volunteers will need to obtain a visa and a Carrying on a Temporary Assignment (CTA) permit. The visa costs $100 USD and can be purchased when you arrive in Tanzania. The payment must be made in cash, as Tanzania is a largely cash-based economy. Once the visa is obtained, your passport will be stamped. The CTA permit must be acquired with the assistance of a volunteer organization’s lawyer. MEDLIFE will apply for the permit on your behalf. It costs $206 and will be added directly to your myMEDLIFE account once the SLT registration date has passed. For more information, please read the following: http://immigration.go.tz/index.php/en/services/visa-information
To enter Nicaragua: volunteers need to obtain a Tourist Card in addition to having a passport. The tourist card costs $10 USD and can be purchased at the airport. Exact change is recommended. Nicaragua also requires all U.S. Citizens to pay a fee of $42 USD upon exiting the country. This fee is usually included in your return airfare ticket. Be sure to check with your airline after purchasing your ticket. If the fee is not included, it can be paid at the airline counter. Non-US passport holders should check visa requirements with the Nicaraguan Embassy.
How do I purchase my airfare?
Volunteers are responsible for buying their own airfare and uploading their flight arrival and departure information. Timeframes vary depending on the location of the trip.
Please find location-specific information below:
Lima, PERU. You must arrive at the Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM) on the SLT start date between 18:00 and 01:00 (next day) and depart during the same hours on the final day. MEDLIFE will coordinate transportation for everyone arriving and departing between these times.
Cusco, PERU. You must arrive at the Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport in Cusco (CUZ) on the SLT start date between 05:00 and 12:00 (noon) and depart between 06:00 and 12:00 (noon) on the last day. MEDLIFE will coordinate transportation for everyone arriving and departing between these times.
Riobamba – Tena – Esmeraldas, ECUADOR. You must arrive at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito (UIO) on the SLT start date between 19:00 and 00:00 (midnight) and depart at any time after 10:00 on the final day. MEDLIFE will coordinate transportation for everyone arriving and departing between these times.
Kilimanjaro, TANZANIA. You must arrive at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) on the SLT start date between 18:00 and 00:00 (next day) and depart between 18:00 and 00:00 (next day) on the final day. MEDLIFE will coordinate transportation for everyone arriving and departing between these times.
Managua, NICARAGUA. You must arrive at the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (ACS) on the SLT start date between 18:00 and 01:30 (next day) and depart between 6:00 and 14:00 on the final day. MEDLIFE will coordinate transportation for everyone arriving and departing between these times.
If students arrive outside of the set time frames, they will be responsible for covering the cost of transportation to their site.
What do I do if I am arriving outside of the timeframes listed?
If your flight arrives outside the timeframes listed please email [email protected]. Remember that any additional nights and transfers that are added before/after your trip because of early or late arrival are not included in the Service Learning Trip donation goal, and will be at the cost of the volunteer.
What vaccinations do I need?
All volunteers must present proof of full vaccination during the trip booking process. Unvaccinated volunteers will not be permitted to participate.
In addition, MEDLIFE follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations and requirements. Immunization recommendations for all of our trip locations may be found on this page: www.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list. We recommend consulting the CDC page and/or visiting a local travel clinic for more information.
Am I required to purchase travel health insurance?
MEDLIFE will provide emergency medical insurance to each volunteer during their Service Learning Trip.
In addition, we will provide more extensive COVID-19 insurance coverage options for participants at an additional cost. We strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance for all travelers.
How much spending money do I need?
We recommend that you have access to at least $150 to $200 during your Service Learning Trip week to cover two days of meals, tourism activities, and any additional food, drinks, or souvenirs you wish to purchase.
How can I exchange money?
Volunteers can easily exchange money in the locations they will visit. They can access their bank accounts via ATM or debit card and can also easily change cash with money-exchange officials on the streets or in nearby exchange houses.
Please note that Ecuador uses the USD as currency, and does not require exchange from students coming from the United States.
What should I pack?
You should plan to look professional but dress comfortably. Jeans, shorts, polos, athletic wear, and t-shirts are all acceptable. In all locations, a MEDLIFE t-shirt will be provided, but you are not required to use it.
- Comfortable walking shoes/sneakers or hiking boots for the tour and project site
- Shorts (1-3)
- Long pants (1-3)
- Long and short-sleeved shirts (3-5)
- Nice outfit for going out
- Windbreaker or light rain jacket
- Bathing suit
- Camera, film, and battery
- Personal medicines and toiletry items
- Hand sanitizer
- Insurance card (health/travel)
- Money, Credit cards, ATM card
- Personal ID (Driver’s License)
- Watch with a second hand is very useful* Sheets/bed linens will be provided by the hotel
* Many students like to have two outfits per day, as clinic and project sites can often be dusty, muddy, or rainy
Will my electrical appliances work abroad?
Most electronics like cell phone chargers and computers are built for multiple voltages and work fine in Ecuadorian and Peruvian outlets. Bathroom items like hair dryers and straighteners are often too high voltage and require converters.
- Ecuador & Nicaragua: 110/120 volts (same as U.S. and Canada); North American outlets (but may not be identical to U.S./Canadian outlets and thus require an adapter)
- Peru: 220 volts (you will need a converter and adapter)
- Tanzania: 230 volts (you will need a converter and adapter)
Should I bring medical donations? What are MEDLIFE's supply needs?
Volunteers can further support the MEDLIFE Movement by bringing medical donations on your SLT. We can use the money we save on supplies for more advanced medicine and medical specialists, such as gynecologists and dentists. By bringing just a couple small supplies, you are actually helping patients receive specialized care!
Find lists of suggested donations based on your location below:
Cusco, Peru donation list
Lima, Peru donation list
Riobamba and Tena, Ecuador donation list
Kilimanjaro, Tanzania donation list
Thank you for your support!
How can my Student Chapter prepare for a Mobile Clinic?
Many MEDLIFE Student Chapters host Service Learning Trip preparation meetings on campus before departing for their trip. This is a great way for volunteers to meet one another and address any questions or concerns students may have. We recommend that Chapters host meetings to go over useful phrases in the local language, train students in the techniques required for the Triage station (taking blood pressure, breathing rate, and pulse, etc.), and to solicit donations (medication, medical supplies) from outside sources.
It is also very helpful to have students who have volunteered in past Service Learning Trips in attendance at these meetings so they can share their experiences. Please contact your SAB representative if you are interested in hosting such a meeting.
The Service Learning Trip Experience
Who will pick me up from the airport?
If you arrive within the scheduled timeframe that was specified to you in the flight email sent out to all volunteers, a MEDLIFE staff member will be waiting to pick you up in the international arrivals area to transport you to your hotel. Look for someone in a MEDLIFE t-shirt and/or with a MEDLIFE sign. If you arrive before or after the specified timeframe, MEDLIFE can still coordinate to pick you up from the airport, but you will need to cover the transportation costs. This varies by location, so please contact [email protected] with your trip dates and location for specific transportation costs.
If for some reason you cannot find the MEDLIFE representative or your flight has been changed, please call our Lima or Riobamba offices or your respective Service Learning Trip staff members. All contact information will be provided to volunteers via email and is available on our website.
What should I do if my flight is delayed or canceled?
If your flight is delayed or canceled, contact the Lima office as soon as possible at 844 633 5433. Also, please send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Flight Change/Cancellation.”
Who leads the Service Learning Trips?
Service Learning Trips are led by a combination of local and international full-time staff members, with the help of local doctors and community leaders.
What happens to our patients after a Mobile Clinic ends?
When our Mobile Clinic doctors identify a patient who requires treatment that the Clinic itself is unequipped to provide, MEDLIFE’s in-country staff then follows up with that patient individually after the Clinic ends to ensure they receive whatever additional care they need. Click here to read more about patient follow-up care.
Where do volunteers stay?
MEDLIFE always arranges for Service Learning Trip volunteers to lodge together in reputable, safe, and clean hotels with at least one MEDLIFE staff member. All hotels at which we stay have electricity, running water, hot showers, internet access, clean linens, and safe-lock boxes for valuables. Bottled water and safe food are always available either at the hotel itself or at nearby establishments. Below are some hotels at which volunteers commonly reside (please note it is not guaranteed that you will stay at one of these hotels. A MEDLIFE representative will provide specific hotel details in advance of your trip).
LIMA, PERUSELINA LIMALocation: Alcanfores 465, LimaPhone: +51 91 870 093Website: selina.com/peru/lima/
CUSCO, PERUSELINA CUSCOLocation: Saphy 601, CuscoPhone: +51 (084) 583245Website: selina.com/peru/cusco/ RIOBAMBA, ECUADOREL LIBERTADOR HOTELLocation: Daniel Leon Borja 29-22, RiobambaPhone: +593 032-947-393Email: [email protected] TENA, ECUADORHOTEL CLUB DEL ORIENTELocation: Sector Pitunyacu Km. 2, Via Archidona, Baeza, NapoPhone: +593 062 889 174Email: [email protected] KILIMANJARO, TANZANIASTELLA MARIS LODGELocation: Arusha – Himo Rd, Hai, KilimanjaroPhone: +255 68 6663244Website: stellamarislodge.com MANAGUA, NICARAGUACENTRAL PARK HOTELLocation: Los Robles, Pool 8, ManaguaPhone: +505 2270 6155Website: centralparkmanaguahotel.com
What kinds of meals will be provided?
Breakfast is provided at the hotel and is typically juice/tea/coffee, fruit, bread, and eggs. A bag lunch is provided during volunteer days and includes a sandwich and snacks (a piece of fruit, chips, and cookies).
Dinner will be provided each day either at the hotel or a restaurant (depending on the destination). Bottled water is provided daily. MEDLIFE employees work to ensure that all food and facilities are safe for consumption by travelers. Dinner consists of an appetizer, main dish, and beverage. Additional food and drinks may be ordered for an extra cost by the volunteer.
Meals are provided Monday-Friday of the Service Learning Trip. Volunteers are responsible for financing their own meals on weekends. However, MEDLIFE staff will often coordinate with the group to visit restaurants or other dining options.
What if I have dietary restrictions?
When registering for a Service Learning Trip, be sure to specify any dietary restrictions on your form in the allotted space. MEDLIFE will accommodate food allergies, religious observances, and choices like vegetarianism or veganism as long as we have advance notice. However, please do not list food items you do not like to eat.
What is the weather like?
It is impossible to predict with certainty what weather will be like during Service Learning Trips, but these are good guidelines to follow when packing for your trip. Online weather reports are often quite unreliable, even when consulted right before heading to your destination. We always recommend packing clothes that you can layer in order to accommodate climate changes.
Peru: Seasons are opposite from the United States and Canada. If traveling to Lima or Cusco during the U.S. winter or spring (November – April), Lima will be very hot and dry. Cusco is in its rainy season during this time and will be very cold and wet. During U.S. summer (May-August), Lima will most likely be chilly and damp, while Cusco will likely be cold but sunny.
Ecuador: The high elevation in Riobamba the high elevation makes for cold mornings and warmer afternoons with very powerful sunshine. Tena, Ecuador is located in the tropical Amazonian region and is always humid and hot.
Tanzania: The rainy season is generally March, April, and May. Afternoon tropical downpours are the norm. The long dry season generally last through June, July, August, September, and October when rainfall is unusual. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it’s usually clear sunny weather.
What does a volunteer do?
Service Learning Trips would not be possible without the support of our volunteers! Students have the opportunity to work closely with and learn from our medical professionals as they identify individual patients who require further treatment. They work with our staff at patient intake, triage, consultations, and in the pharmacy. Volunteers also help run our educational programs and shadow the local doctors, dentists, and gynecologists.
The typical week includes three days volunteering on-site at the Mobile Clinic, one day working with local community members on a development project (i.e. a stair or bathroom construction project), and one day of community learning. Click here for a sample itinerary.
How many students volunteer on each Service Learning Trip?
The number of volunteers varies by location, but MEDLIFE typically hosts between twenty and fifty volunteers on each trip. If one trip is particularly popular, MEDLIFE does its best to divide the group in two separate, simultaneous groups. In these cases, MEDLIFE tries to keep all volunteers from the same university or group together.
What safety precautions does MEDLIFE have in place?
For COVID-19 safety information, visit our Travel Safe page.
MEDLIFE staff place the greatest value on the safety of our volunteers. We meet all incoming students at the airport and accompany them to the hotel via private transportation. Volunteers use solely private transportation throughout the entire week (to/from the airport, clinic sites, and tourist activities).
Volunteers are advised to only leave the hotel during the day, preferably in groups, and not to leave the hotel at all at night unless accompanied or given authorization by MEDLIFE staff. Our team is always present in the communities where we conduct our Service Learning Trips.
During our Mobile Clinics, we welcome all members of the local communities. As expected, some patients may arrive already ill and possibly contagious. While MEDLIFE does not intentionally operate in outbreak zones or high-risk areas, it is still possible that volunteers may encounter patients with illnesses such as but not limited to, Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Zika, Hepatitis B, and HIV among others. In order to protect ourselves from unnecessary risk and to protect the communities from the pathogens that we as a group are bringing to the area, we ask that volunteers adhere to the following indications:
Every volunteer will be provided with a mask. Its use is mandatory at all times. Please remember to take it with you every day to the clinics. Likewise, the use of protective gloves is also mandatory. We encourage volunteers to change gloves between patients when necessary.
What happens if there is an emergency?
MEDLIFE has a specific and intricate emergency protocol process. All of our staff is completely briefed on what to do in case of an emergency in every location. We are also covered by emergency medical insurance – and select MEDLIFE staff members are Wilderness First Aid Certified.
If you have specific questions, please reach out to [email protected]
Does the hotel have wifi? Will I need to bring my computer?
All hotels used by MEDLIFE have wifi. We highly recommend that students leave their computers at home. You will have no pressing use for them and bringing them will only occasion unnecessary risk of theft or damage.
What are grounds for dismissal from a Mobile Clinic and subsequent consequences if forced to leave?
Volunteers must obey all established rules for MEDLIFE Service Learning Trips. Failure to comply will result in a ban from volunteering in any event related to the Service Learning Trip, and/or to stay in the hotel that is designated for Mobile Clinic volunteers. In general grounds for dismissal will include: breaking the law in the host country, inappropriate or unprofessional behavior towards patients or employees, use of illegal substances, or abuse of alcohol. Rules are subject to change from clinic to clinic as our cultural areas are different and require different behavior.
Are there cultural norms I should be aware of in the countries I will visit?
As with any new place you visit, you should be aware that the cultural and social norms are probably different from your own. MEDLIFE encourages volunteers to review our Cultural Sensitivity resources, which can be found on Campus Labs, before volunteering in a Service Learning Trip.
Are there any restrictions or requirements for what clothing I should wear?
For Peru or Ecuador, people are less conservative and there are no strict rules in place regarding what you can and can’t wear. In any country, modesty is always encouraged until you can fully gauge the cultural norms and practices on your own.
Tanzania is a religiously and culturally diverse country. While working on projects in the communities we serve, volunteers should use ‘no shoulders, no chest, and no knees’ as a general guideline. Volunteers are expected to wear scrub pants, pants, jeans, or long skirts (past the knees). Local skirts and African style pants can also be purchased locally for about $10. Gym shorts and leggings are not culturally appropriate while on clinic and in the communities. Volunteers are welcome to dress more freely while in the hotel, on safari, or even walking around the city. These areas are more accustomed to serving international clients.
What if I need to return home early from a trip due to illness, family emergency, etc? Is there any sort of financial reimbursement?
If a volunteer needs to return home at any time, MEDLIFE will help coordinate any arrangements needed as much as the circumstances allow us to. Unfortunately, there is no reimbursement if a volunteer needs to leave early as the donation goes towards covering all Mobile Clinic expenses ahead of time.
How do room arrangements work?
You will share a room with other people. However, all the people in the room will be MEDLIFE volunteers. As much as we can, we will try to allocate your rooms with people from your own Chapter or school. You will never share a room with someone who is not connected to MEDLIFE.
Under United States tax law and regulations, a donation to MEDLIFE is 100% tax-deductible by the person donating. However, a donation given to MyMovement that reduces a student’s volunteering costs in a mobile clinic is not tax-deductible. If donors have general questions about whether donations to MEDLIFE are tax-deductible, they can call MEDLIFE’S U.S.-based office at 1-844-MEDLIFE (1-844-633-5433). However, specific questions about the deductibility of contributions should be directed to the donor’s qualified tax advisor.
MEDLIFE is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.