"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it."
- Nelson Mandela
What we choose to live for, risk for, give ourselves to, is the thing that gives our lives meaning. When it's children, we create a family. And when it's our fellow human beings, we create a much bigger family. Those threatened by Ebola are calling for our help. Do we swallow our fear and answer? In this moment, we choose. And by our choice, create the world we dream of, one where every one of us is a precious member of one people, one human family.
Volunteering to fight Ebola is an act of tremendous courage and love for humanity, and we can’t thank you enough for considering it. This mission comes with real risks. But it also comes with the greatest rewards - helping to save lives and stem this terrible epidemic before it spreads even further. Many healthcare workers have been infected, but the vast majority of these were brave but often ill-equipped local health workers. International volunteers are far better equipped, and while the risk is still present, it is much lower. We strongly urge you to read the following information carefully and take time to seriously reflect before deciding to volunteer.
1. What are the risks?
Healthcare workers caring for Ebola patients have been infected and some have died due to inadequate training or insufficient protective equipment. The organisations doing the frontline relief work have committed to provide volunteers with personal protective equipment (PPE) that meets the highest international standards. These groups focus seriously on both pre-mission preparation and onsite security and protection in Ebola treatment centres. Still the risks are real and present.
2. What skills are needed?
Volunteers with the following skills and experience are urgently needed: qualified health care workers, including doctors, nurses, lab technicians, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and physicians’ assistants; water and sanitation experts; experienced logisticians; psychosocial staff; and engineering and construction workers. Volunteers must speak either English for work in Sierra Leone and Liberia or French for work in Guinea.
3. How long will assignments last?
Assignments will vary in length but the minimum commitment is for four weeks. Some frontline humanitarian organisations work on 12-week rotations (including 1 week training and 11 weeks in the field).
4. Who will I be volunteering with?
Avaaz is helping to create a pool of potential volunteers for frontline humanitarian organisations, including Partners In Health, International Medical Corps and Save the Children, who are urgently seeking skilled international volunteers. After you provide us with basic information about your background, skills, and availability, we will pass it along to the organisations who have requested your particular skill set. Because of the urgency the aim is to make this process a fast as possible, but it may take weeks and some people may never get placed. You can withdraw your name at any time.
5. Will volunteers receive specialised training?
The frontline organisations have committed to holding a comprehensive and specialised Ebola training course before travel to West Africa. The training will be coordinated by certified experts in the humanitarian organisation that each volunteer is placed with. The training will cover a variety of skills depending on your role, including strict rules about staying safe outside work. For example, health workers will be trained on treatment and care of patients, case management, infection control and the correct usage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
6. What protection systems are in place?
Volunteers will receive medical and safety training, equipment, and advice from the organisation that selects them. These groups have all committed to prioritising the safety of their volunteers and maintain strict safety protocols. Along with strict guidelines at work, volunteers will be expected to follow rigorous safety procedures outside work.
7. Do I need international experience?
The frontline organisations have indicated that international experience, especially in emergency situations, is highly desirable and required for some positions, but not necessary for all placements.
8. Will I be covered by insurance?
If volunteers are chosen by one of the frontline organisations to travel to West Africa, that organisation has committed to arrange medical insurance and a medical evacuation plan. Avaaz is striving to refer people to only those organisations that have such policies and plans in place.