Volunteers work in a hospital specializing in children and teenagers. Areas include emergency medicine, external consultation, surgery, psychology.
Healthcare in Mexico has improved significantly over the last decade. In 2012 the country achieved universal health care, an accomplishment that continues to elude even the United States, its much richer northern neighbor. However, while access to healthcare is now guaranteed, for the poorest there are still significant hurdles to overcome. Access to qualified doctors in public hospitals can be difficult, and it is not uncommon for patients, even those with life-threatening conditions, to have long waiting times before healthcare is provided.
Overall, Mexico’s healthcare outcomes lag behind those of other OECD countries. Additionally, public health issues like poor nutrition and deficient sexual education are a growing problem. Volunteers bring valuable experience and skills, as well as outside perspectives to share with the local medical professionals. Volunteers live in Merida and work throughout the city.
What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work in a hospital specializing in children and teenagers. There are multiple areas to work in, and volunteers will assist in one or multiple depending on the needs of the local nurses and doctors, as well as each volunteer’s experience and ability. Areas include emergency medicine, external consultation, surgery, psychology, pharmacy and administration. Typical daily activities can include helping in the emergency room, conducting patient exams, helping patients with their rehabilitation and therapy exercises, completing patient paperwork, and suturing wounds. Additionally, volunteers may talk with patients and families about topics like dental care, hygiene, early childhood development and reproductive health.
There is no typical day :-)
Volunteering abroad is all about finding your role in local communities. Unlike a tourist, volunteers travel to serve instead of to be served.
Also, remember that you’re working in the developing world in very poor contexts—conditions are constantly changing. There is no script to follow and being adaptable is crucial. This is what makes international volunteering challenging and rewarding.
In general though, you’ll be working Monday through Friday. Weekends are off. Every project is different, so you want to read the detailed project descriptions.
Connecting with the locals and other volunteers is also a big part of the experience. You’ll have plenty of time after your work and on the weekends. Volunteers often check out tourist sites together, hang out in the evening, travel on the weekends, etc. It’s up to you, don’t worry you’ll have a lot of fun too :-)
Merida is becoming recognized as one of Mexico’s most welcoming destinations. It is a great and safe place to explore and experience Yucatan culture. The Plaza Grande, which is lined by pretty colonial buildings, is bustling with activity and makes for a great place to stroll or just sit back and relax. Beautiful beaches off the Gulf of Mexico are easily reachable in 40 minutes by bus from downtown Merida, and there are watering holes and caves that are well worth a visit. The Celestun Mangroves, where pink flamingoes can be seen, is nearby, as well as Cancun, which is four hours away by bus. There are cultural activities across the area. Some of Mexico’s most impressive Mayan archaeological sites are close, including the famous Uxmal and Chichen Itza, which is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Finally, if you would would like to improve your Spanish while volunteering in Mexico with UBELONG, we can connect you with affordable and excellent Spanish classes once you arrive in Merida.
The fees include: Reservation Fee, Preparation Booklet, Briefing Meeting, First week extra R&R day, Housing, Food, Airport pick-up, UBELONG Mentor, Orientation, In-country support, Reference letter, Fundraising and networking and United States President’s Volunteer Service Award.
Not included: Airfare, Insurance and Airport drop off.
When you arrive at the Merida airport, a driver meets you and brings you to your accommodations.
You live in a comfortable, fun and welcoming Volunteer House, which is part of a hostel in the center of Merida. It is only five blocks from the Plaza Grande, the bustling center of Merida. You share a room with other volunteers. Most bathrooms are communal. All rooms and bathrooms are cleaned regularly. Wireless internet is available free of charge. There is a great common area where you can cook, socialize or just relax in. There is also a pool that volunteers can enjoy.
Mexico, and the Yucatan in particular, is famous for its diverse and flavorful dishes that bring together Mexican, Mayan, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and European cuisines. Every day, you receive breakfast and lunch. A cook prepares a range of local dishes exclusively for the volunteers.