Volunteer Abroad

DCI offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about and immerse themselves in another culture, while at the same time making a difference in the lives of underprivileged children by helping to provide them quality education and health care.

Who Can Apply

People of all ages are welcome; however, some special rules apply. Volunteers traveling alone must be at least 18 years of age. Those 16 and 17 years old traveling without a parent must provide a letter of parental consent. A parent or guardian must accompany individuals under 16. No formal training is required – your love, affection and the heart to help others is what matters the most.

Why Volunteer Abroad

  • Broaden your global perspective
  • Become a more effective cross-cultural communicator
  • Perform meaningful community service work in a variety of fields
  • Test your ability to face new challenges
  • Develop crucial leadership/team building skills
  • Gain valuable language skills
  • Build self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Learn or develop new skills
  • Teach your skills to others
  • Meet people, make new friends and network with people of similar interests
  • Gain valuable work experience
  • Make lasting memories
  • Enhance your résumé
  • Receive a volunteer certificate of appreciation
  • If desired, a recommendation that can be helpful for college admissions & future employment
  • Most importantly you will get personal satisfaction from making a real difference in someone’s life and a community in need.

How to Apply

  • Select your dates of travel, and fill in the application & send the completed application by email to: dci@distressedchildren.org or mail to the following address:50 Church Street, 5th Floor, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA (We must receive your completed application at least one month prior to your desired travel date. This will give us time to make proper arrangements for you.)
  • A Coordinator from the DCI Team will confirm your application and arrange a phone interview with you to discuss your interest and motivations.
  • After discussion with you and/or your parents, you’ll be notified of the detailed plan of

Activities for you during your stay in Bangladesh.

Visa Requirements: Please contact your airline booking agent, the Bangladesh Embassy, or consulate directly to determine the visa requirements based on your nationality. To avoid possible travel disruptions, we suggest that you travel with a passport at all times. It is your responsibility to arrange for a visa if necessary. DCI can provide a letter of support if required after approval of your volunteer application.

Health Requirements: You are solely responsible for taking all appropriate medical precautions, being in satisfactory health and having sufficient mobility to participate in the activities you apply for. Please contact your local travel clinic and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) at www.cdc.gov to find out more regarding medical issues and precautions.

All participants must visit a travel doctor for his or her recommended immunizations at least six weeks before departure.

Other Requirements

DCI requests the following things of you:

  • Flexibility
  • Courage
  • Open-mindedness
  • Tolerance
  • Compassion

Volunteer and educational travel around the world is often filled with unpredictable surprises, such as transportation delays, local holidays, etc. Cultures vary greatly. Some things may appear shocking and you might feel outside of your comfort zone in some situations. You might also experience disturbing poverty or suffering in certain areas. People, including the local population and you, the volunteer, might have vastly different religious, ideological, racial, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. In short, you may be challenged and stimulated in ways that you can’t presently imagine. If you maintain flexibility, courage, open-mindedness, tolerance, and compassion, you will build greater bonds with the people around you, attain a rich cultural understanding, and truly experience “the ultimate educational adventure.”

DCI continually strives to improve your experience. We encourage you to let your Coordinator in Bangladesh know if you have any immediate concerns.

Safety:

The safety of our volunteers is the first priority for all trips. All volunteers from abroad work closely with DCI’s very reliable on-the-ground staff and in-country partners. One DCI officer (volunteer coordinator) and one driver are assigned to each volunteer or team of volunteers. The assigned officer speaks English fluently and will accompany each volunteer or the group everywhere. All accommodations are secure.

While trips are in progress, the volunteer coordinator in charge and our trips organizer in the USA carry emergency contact and medical information for all participants, and maintain regular contact with the USA. Parents are contacted immediately if there are any matters of concern.

Contact:

Upon arrival, participants will be able to call or e-mail their parents or loved ones to let them know they have arrived safely. The trip coordinator will always have a cell phone with which the participants can call their parents if required. We ask parents to allow the children to focus on their task and to call only during the evening, local time.

What You Can Do as a Volunteer

The nature of volunteer placements and the number of hours spent volunteering will depend on you.

You may choose to:

  • Volunteer at schools under DCI’s Sun-Child Sponsorship (SCS) program in the villages
  • Volunteer in DCI supported orphanages (a typical volunteer working at an orphanage would
  • spend time teaching, playing, doing activities, art and crafts and also helping the local staff in the orphanage)
  • Volunteer to work for disadvantaged children & families in urban slum areas & help DCI’s
  • free clinic for the slum residents
  • Volunteer at different DCI partner hospitals (Ispahani Eye Hospital, BIRDEM, Bangladesh Institute of Health Sciences (BIHS) Hospital, Shishu Hospital, Mirpur Children Hospital)
  • Visit local garments industries and other industries to observe working environment
  • Visit and observe child laborers in Dhaka
  • Volunteer at DCI or its partner office in Dhaka

You can help to:

  • Teach children to communicate in English through games/activities
  • Teach them basic computer skills
  • Give art or music lessons; or offer a short science course (or any subject of your
  • interest or expertise that is beneficial to the children)
  • Give instructions on general health and hygiene
  • Assist health professionals in providing check-ups and/or vision screening
  • Collect data for community development and public health research
  • At DCI or its partner office in Dhaka a volunteer can do the following things,
    • Help in summarizing or writing report on data collected
    • Help in strengthening the communication system
    • Help to create a data base of different programs
    • Organizing Press Conference, media appearance, interviewing with different newspaper and TV channels and campaign about DCI activities and programs

Health Care Volunteers:

For health care or eye care, volunteers must go through a training session. Volunteers are given a list of skills that they should learn during the training. This training is given by a local doctor, and it is done either at DCI’s office, or at a hospital. The volunteers learn to take patient histories, take blood pressure, learn about eye anatomy, eye health, screen for cataracts and recognize various eye diseases. A team of doctors and volunteers is transported by van to the screening location. Patients receive an exam, diagnosis, medication, and treatment on site. Patients requiring additional treatment or ophthalmic care
and surgery are then taken to a hospital for treatment. All patients screened receive free
treatment and surgery funded by DCI so that no patient is denied care due to lack of funds.

Volunteers assist in all aspects of the general health and eye care programs. They take patient histories, test visual acuity, assist with the examination, distribute medication and eyeglasses, and provide health and hygiene education in villages and schools. Volunteers also have an opportunity to enter in the operation theaters and observe surgeries performed on patients at hospitals and clinics. We can also help volunteers to make a short term medical research plan under the supervision of a local doctor.

If you are a Healthcare Professional:

Please let us know if you are a healthcare professional and would like to volunteer your service. We will work with local hospitals to arrange seminars or training sessions for local young doctors and arrange free treatment camps for the underprivileged. Our free clinic for the slum residents can always use your help.

Cultural experience:

Please note that although volunteering is the main component of the trip, the rest of your time will be dedicated to cultural experiences – including but not limited to attending performances by local artists, as well as going shopping, sightseeing and of course stimulating your taste buds.

While helping a disadvantaged community, volunteers are in a position to witness and draw their own conclusions about the inequities of global health care, education and other privileges. It broadens their view of what works, and what role they can play in ensuring a system that cares for everyone. Through spending time with these very deserving children, volunteers often come to better appreciate the little things in life that most of us take for granted. Most important, volunteering gives all of us the opportunity to open our hearts to the underprivileged and work together to make a difference in the world. Volunteer hours can also count toward your graduation requirements. Please notify us at the start of the trip if you would like to certify your volunteer hours.

If you decide to visit Bangladesh, please let us know your final schedule and exactly how many hours per day and how many days you would like to work with DCI in Bangladesh. Other information that would be helpful for us:

  • Exactly what type of volunteer work or services would you like to provide to the poor people of Bangladesh?
  • What type of support facilities do you need in Bangladesh to use your expertise?
  • Would you be interested in training or giving presentations to Bangladeshi doctors?
  • Can we organize a health camp for you?
  • Would you like to stay in Dhaka city or travel to rural areas?

Cost of Trip

All in-country arrangements from landing at the airport to departure are made by DCI Bangladesh. A fee is charged for that according to the expense incurred by the volunteer. Arrangements & expenses include:

  • Accommodations
  • All in-country transportation from arrival to departure at the airport
  • Home-cooked meals and purified drinking water to control exposure to bacteria/viruses
  • 24-hour DCI personnel attendee
  • A cell phone for national and international communication services 24 hours a day
  • Cultural experiences, such as going to the theater, and other local recreational activities

Airfare to and from the country, travel insurance, spending money, visas, immunizations,
passport/consular related arrangements & costs are your responsibility.

Extra Cash:

For all other trips you may want to bring some cash for snacks during transit. An extra $100 (US) in cash for emergencies and $100-200 (US) for spending money is appropriate, but travelers’ checks are safer. Canadian and American money can be changed into local currency upon arrival at the airport. On most trips there are limited opportunities for participants to use money, which is why we recommend bringing a limited amount of cash.

Gifts for the Children:

You can bring candy or toys to give away as presents for the trip only if you can provide the same item for all children in the orphanage or school where you are working. We try to be as equitable as we can in working with the disadvantaged communities, and strive to avoid creating any conflicts.

Preparing for the Trip:

  • Bring strictly your personal necessities when it comes to items like clothes, medicine, toiletries. Do not overpack. Remember the more you pack, the more laundry you’ll need to do. Laundry is hand washed (detergent, buckets, clothes pins are available locally).
  • There is no dress code, but due to the hot weather be prepared to sweat profusely. You may
  • prefer to dress in light cotton tops, light khaki pants, etc. Footwear should be thick-soled
  • sandals, running shoes, etc. Although it is a hot climate, the roads are often bumpy and uneven,
  • and thus not suitable for flip-flops.
  • Recommended items: non-perishable snacks such as granola bars, micro-towel, mosquito net, sun block (30-40spf), Mosquito-bug repellent, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, mini first aid kit, antibacterial ointments, medicine for fever relief, upset stomach etc., flashlight, camera, adapter, books, magazine, MP3 player, cards/board games etc.
  • Make sure to wear lots of sun block and sunglasses.
  • You’ll be arriving at Dhaka airport. Make sure to confirm your arrival time at the airport with DCI, USA before your trip.
  • You’ll be picked up by a DCI trip coordinator in Bangladesh after you’ve cleared customs.
  • Some people outside the airport entrance may want to help you with baggage and finding a
  • taxi. DO NOT accept any help; just politely decline. Your DCI coordinator will be waiting for
  • you with your name on a sign.
  • Be careful about buying food from vendors or eating fresh fruits and vegetables since you
  • don’t know how or under what conditions they were prepared or washed.

What makes a Successful Volunteer

  • Successful DCI volunteers understand and believe in our mission of helping underprivileged children.
  • Successful volunteers are flexible and friendly, and are willing to share their skills and learn new ones.
  • Successful volunteers enjoy their work!

If you are interested in volunteering with us, for more information contact us at:

Distressed Children & Infants International
50 Church Street, 5th Floor, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Email: dci[at]distressedchildren.org
Phone: Toll Free # 1-866-516-7495, Tel # 1-203-376-6351, Fax:1-203-272-3869

Bangladesh Contact:
Distressed Children & Infants International-Bangladesh
House#167, Road#3, Mohammadi Housing Ltd., Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh
Tel# 01552460242, 01727264688, 01711907410, 01727242388,
Email: dcibangladesh[at]yahoo.com

 

Links

Volunteer FlyerVolunteer Abroad Application