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Why We Send Volunteers Published: 16 Sep 2019

At Vine Trust, we have seen huge value arise from our medical volunteering programmes. However, this view is a frequently discussed topic within the international development sector, facing particular critique about the need to send volunteers overseas instead of solely supporting projects financially. We asked Dr Uzia Mohamed from the Jubilee Hope Medical Team to share his perspective on the value of volunteering,   

“Volunteer support is undeniably valuable as they invest their time, money, skills and knowledge to treat patients and by offering a helping hand in the pharmacy and lab during each voyage. We consider every volunteer part of the Jubilee Hope family.”

When speaking to our volunteers about their expeditions, we share three key areas which we believe mutually benefit both our individual volunteers, and our local partners and staff.

Innovation

In the medical world, skills sharing can be an invaluable method of improving practices and health outcomes. When volunteers and the local medical team work together, they help each other to find sustainable solutions. Knowledge, and teaching methods, can be shared in both directions, as volunteers and staff learn together. Dr Uzia shared more of his thoughts on these benefits,

The teaching approach can be truly remarkable; I remember a volunteer drawing a face on a balloon and attaching it to a pillow, just to illustrate their point!

It’s the small things that we overlook and don’t give enough credit for, that have made us gain a lot of experience, knowledge and skills, but at the same time, create a valuable bond with our volunteers.”

Encouragement

Alongside knowledge and skills sharing, the participation of volunteers on board our medical ships can be an encouragement to staff involved in the work longer term. Volunteers often act as a catalyst by motivating the team to work collectively. As Dr Uzia shared, 

“It’s through these interactions with volunteers that we are inspired, feel challenged to go beyond the limits and become better people. We are more resilient, creative and innovative, not just in the work we do, but also at a personal level in our lives.”

Inspiration

Fuelling everything is inspiration. Working alongside people with different cultural backgrounds and contexts can encourage individuals to be more considerate, flexible and reflective of their relationships with colleagues and patients:

“Volunteering helps you enjoy not endure work and go beyond your expectations.”

Working with a local team and treating patients from rural communities can be the inspiration for new solutions and perspectives that would otherwise have been neglected. For both volunteer and local team member, working together forms a pool of experiences and knowledge to draw from, during their expedition and for a long time afterwards.

Vine Trust is passionate about the value and impact of volunteering  in the communities we work in. From innovation to inspiration, this unique partnership has proven to be an enriching experience for everyone involved. If you'd like to be on one of our next medical expeditions, find out more on our information page.