IMR Frequently Asked Questions
For your convenience, IMANA Medial Relief has answered your frequently asked questions below:
What is the nature of IMR Activities and what types of missions does it undertake?
IMR undertakes many types of medical relief work all over the world, prime among them being disaster relief in places hit by natural calamities and disasters like earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. We also provide assistance to areas in conflict and we send planned medical, surgical and dental missions to various countries, which provide free healthcare in underserved areas. Moreover, we help healthcare projects around the globe like hospitals, basic health centers, diagnostic centers and laboratories. On a limited scale IMR extends humanitarian aid also.
Who can volunteer for IMR missions?
Do I need to be a member of IMANA to volunteer?
No, we take member and non-member volunteers alike. However, signing up means being able to avail of IMANA membership benefits like attending conventions, networking, CMEs, domestic and overseas annual family trips with colleagues and much more.
What is the usual length of IMR missions?
Most of our missions are one week long. In areas of high need like disaster zones, we rotate volunteers every week till the mission is over.
What are the costs associated with IMR volunteer missions?
Volunteers are only responsible for the airfare to and from the mission location. IMANA takes care of all the other expenses like boarding, lodging, and local transportation.
What do I need to know in order to book my flight?
It is the volunteer’s responsibility to arrange all flights, domestic and overseas. Since team members travel from different cities, IMANA avoids specifying the flight plans. However, we provide general guidance as to the arrival time frame at the destination to facilitate coordination with hosts organization. We also provide information on the advisable connections and routes but let you make your own choices.
What vaccinations do I need before traveling abroad?
We refer all volunteers to the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/travel for the most up to date vaccination recommendations. Please note that these are recommendations only and not mandatory requirements. If there is any such need we shall advise you before the trip.
What is the size of the medical team?
It depends on the nature of the mission; average size is 12-15 members.
What are the work hours and how many patients do we see in a day?
Work hours are typically 9 am to 5 pm but may be adjusted slightly to match local requirements. Our medical teams typically see 150-200 patients in a day; the number is usually higher in disaster relief scenario though.
Where do we get the medications and supplies from?
Medications and supplies are mostly purchased locally. At other times, these are purchased in the USA and carried along by the volunteers.
What do all the volunteers need to carry with them?
Once the team is finalized, the volunteer members are provided with a guidebook for the trip which lists all the preparation requirements and checklists for items to carry along.
What is the procedure for volunteering and going on a medical mission with IMR?
IMANA Medical Relief announces the dates for different missions once these have been decided in consultation with our local partners in the destination country. We send out informational emails to all our members and also activate registrations links on our volunteering page. Once a sufficient number of volunteers has signed up, we select a team as per the needs of the mission.
The team is then briefed on the salient features of the mission and provided with guidebooks and other material to prepare for the trip. Team members book their flights while IMANA team coordinates logistics. If needed, we order medicines and supplies and send them to the team members for carrying along for the mission. IMANA covers any baggage costs incurred by team volunteers in the respect.
Is it necessary to know the local language to volunteer?
There is no requirement to possess foreign language skills to be able to participate in the IMR medical relief missions. We arrange translators wherever there is such a need.
Does IMANA help with the travel documents needed for the mission?
All volunteers are expected to possess valid passports. It is your responsibility to make sure that it is up to date and meets all country-specific requirements (e.g., some countries require a passport to be valid for 6 months beyond the date of the trip).
Please note that required travel documents vary by country. IMANA helps in obtaining any additional travel documents required by the host country, such as a travel visa. In that case you will be required to send the passport/application form/pictures/fee to us for getting it processed at the concerned embassy. We provide the guidance, however it is your responsibility to make sure your paperwork is in order.
How do I get from the airport to the mission site?
When you arrive, one of our local host staff members or representatives will receive you at the airport. They will display the mission sign or your name. We also provide you with emergency contact numbers before departure, which we recommend that you carry with you while abroad. Before you leave for your trip, we will provide you with detailed information on your pickup, as well as housing and transportation.
In disaster relief trips, time is of the essence; hence the arrangements are made at short notice and could be basic and simple. Since we always collaborate with a local organization for such missions, there are never any major issues. Volunteers proceeding on disaster relief missions have to be ready to improvise and juggle as per the existing conditions.
Where do I stay during the mission?
This depends on the mission location. Mostly it is a suitable hotel at the destination, while in Haiti we have simple accommodation at the clinic site. In disaster zones, this could be simple tents.
What happens if I decide to cancel after having registered?
You will appreciate that it is difficult to enroll replacement volunteers too close to the mission. To avoid the possibility of cancellation it is advisable to ensure your availability/time off from work before registering for the mission. We give a cutoff date to all selected team members book their flights, failing which we offer the vacancy to stand by volunteers, if available. Late cancellations are highly discouraged except in cases of extreme emergency. IMANA cannot and does not reimburse any charges already incurred by the volunteers in such cases where they have to cancel for their own personal reasons.
Are IMR missions safe?
Volunteer safety is one of our first priorities. While the safety of international travel cannot be guaranteed, we go to extensive lengths to ensure volunteer security. Our mission sites are chosen with all relevant factors in mind, including political situation in the destination country.
At all of our mission sites, we arrange transportation and housing to maximize safety. We work with our host organization staff to ensure that you receive orientation upon arrival in-country. We constantly review our safety protocol to ensure that we are doing our best to keep you safe.
We work tirelessly to ensure that you have a safe and comfortable experience and that you’re able to focus on the mission work. Safety is a priority, you can rest assured!
Should I bring medical supplies or donations of any kind?
IMANA encourages you to collect monetary donations and contribute them towards the mission funds. However please do not bring along any medicines and medical supplies. These are procured as per predetermined formulary for each mission and keeping in view the local regulations in this regard. Some countries do not allow bringing in any medicines while others are very strict with regards to expiration dates. Even the slightest error can jeopardize our well-intentioned missions, so it is best to let us do all the procurement.
Since ours are medical missions we also do not encourage brining along humanitarian supplies like blankets, clothes etc. We want to concentrate on delivering healthcare and any diversion takes away from the focus. Your friends and family may ask you to take along such stuff, politely advise them to donate money towards the cause instead. Our missions cost money and financial contribution is the best way that they can participate and help the cause.
Team members may bring along their own personal medications. However please be sure that these are also not expired.
Do I need to be an American or Canadian citizen?
We accept volunteers of other nationalities as well but, for ease of coordination, it is best if you are traveling from within USA or Canada. You are required to have valid US/Canadian residency documentation. Also we cannot help if the host country has some specific travel requirements for your country of origin.
Will there be an opportunity to travel while I'm there?
Depending upon the destination, volunteers do take the opportunity to go on trips to local places of interest after planned mission trips, individually or with other fellow volunteers. In Jordan, for example, most volunteers want to visit Petra which can be done in s day trip from Amman. We advise against individual trips in Haiti though.
What is the best way to keep in touch with home while I'm away?
This also depends on the destination. Whereas there is normal cellphone coverage and internet in Jordan, there is very limited internet and no cellphone coverage in Haiti where the clinic is located in a remote rural area. In Haiti, we stay in touch with our hosts and can relay any information of emergency nature. Since the mission is only a week long, it is best to advise and prepare your family to be ready to manage without any regular communication.
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