VIDA Volunteer Travel
VIDA Volunteer Travel – VIDA is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit humanitarian organization based in Minnesota and operating out of Central America. VIDA provides free basic medical, dental, and veterinary assistance to needy communities in Central America, while providing volunteers with a service learning experience.
Our mission is to facilitate sustainable and ongoing public health services to needy communities, while offering volunteers from around the world hands-on, eye-opening, mind-enriching experiences. We believe that we can make a long-lasting impact by having a strong emphasis on education. We aim to achieve this goal by working with committed and compassionate bilingual professionals, who play an active role in the intercultural and humanitarian experience. We invite everyone with a desire to help and learn to join our cause. Our commitment is to maximize the use of our resources to best serve developing communities.
- Year founded: 2007
- First trip was May 2008
- 100 volunteers participated in 2008
- 452 volunteers participated in 2009
- 1,015 volunteers participated in 2010
- 1,129 volunteers participated in 2011
VIDA makes all the arrangements for volunteer service trips that help volunteers learn about public health, healthcare needs and Central American culture, and provide Central American communities of need with free basic medical, dental and veterinary care. VIDA deploys groups of 20-40 volunteers to pre-arranged sites in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. VIDA's trained medical professionals provide training to the students prior to deployment, and provide supervision of volunteer work at the clinics. The professionals provide healthcare services, while the volunteers contribute in multiple ways, working directly with the patients and the health professionals. The adventures also include education and recreational days. VIDA adventures are usually 9 days/8 nights or 13 days/12 nights.
VIDA trips start at $1,540-$2,660 and vary depending on the duration of the trip
Cost includes: Ground transportation, airport pick up/drop off, lodging, Bilingual Health Professionals, guides, interpreters, supplies/materials for clinics, most meals, tours, border & immigration fees. Scholarships are available
Volunteers are generally college students (undergraduate or graduate) interested in health care fields, such as general medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, or nursing. We also love to have healthcare professionals volunteer. Friends and family of students are welcome.
- Costa Rica: Guanacaste, Talamanca, Cartago, Sarapiqui, Nairí Awarí, Los Chiles
- Guatemala: Sacatepéquez, Chimaltenango, Sololá
- Nicaragua: Masaya, Granada, Ocotal, Diriamba, Rivas, Ometepe
VIDA Volunteers stay at a variety of hotels during their stay as well as with home stay families, when available. This promotes the economy of the countries VIDA works in and gives the volunteers a chance to experience the culture firsthand. VIDA visits every house and meets with every family as a pre-screening process. Volunteers pair up for homestays, and occupy a shared private room. VIDA staff work with families in advance to assure appropriate housing and dietary requirements. VIDA aims to hire small independent businesses and families in the counties we serve, and oftentimes use small, local hotels to house volunteers and staff.
VIDA's Offices and Staff
VIDA's central office is located in Costa Rica. Regional offices are located in Nicaragua and Guatemala.
VIDA employs about 20 administrative staff members and about 250 field staff members.
- Dental services include teeth cleaning, extractions, sealants, and fillings, fluoride treatments, and brushing and flossing education.
- 2010: 1,281 adults and 2,065 children
- 2011: 3,572 adults and 1,400 children
- Medical services include working in the pharmacy, giving injections and vaccinations, taking vital signs, conducting patient Interviews, as well as: blood sugar testing, quick dip urinalysis, and pap smears.
- 2010: 4,407 children and 4,939 adults
- 2011: 4,234 children and 6,097 adults
- Veterinary services include castration surgeries, teeth cleanings, grooming, vaccinations, etc. in domestic animals, as well as vitamin treatments and deworming in large animals
- 2010: 5,733 domestic animals and 2,422 large animals
- 2011: 6,713 domestic animals and 3,786 large animals
Percent of Population below Poverty Level
- Costa Rica: 24.2 percent (2011)
- Guatemala: 54 percent (2011)
- Nicaragua: 47 percent (2009)
Service-Learning Over the past two decades, teachers, administrators, and parents have come to understand that when service is linked to learning, the combination opens the door to the multi-faceted education Americans want for all young people, equipping them for their roles not just as learners, but as community members and workers too. Service-learning's appeal is also increasing because service-learning practice is grounded in current research findings about effective teaching and learning. Investigators have found that when rigorous study in academic disciplines is linked to serious work on real needs, students' motivation to learn increases.
- Academic and intellectual benefits. Service-learning supports young people in mastering important curriculum content by helping them make meaningful connections between what they are studying and its many applications.
- Civic and ethical benefits. Service-learning allows young people to explore and develop skills for a range of ways to serve, including acts of kindness and caring, community stewardship, and civic action.
- Social and personal benefits. Service-learning offers young people a holistic learning experience that can increase their engagement in learning, provide them access to adult mentors, bolster their self-confidence, enhance their preparation for the world of work and become a well-rounded future global health professional.