Guidelines for International Volunteers


Please keep in mind that we have a limited number of positions available for volunteering abroad.


Selection of volunteers is performed by DGH and the partner organization along with other team members and is based on the written application, essays, recommendations and interview(s) with a previous long-term volunteer(s). The following guidelines are based on the characteristics of past volunteers that have worked best for all concerned.


  • The ability to work as part of a team is vital.


  • Volunteers are expected to become a part of the communities in which they work, so that they may learn, accompany, and contribute from within.


  • Generally, the longer a volunteer can stay, the better. Volunteers have stayed for over a year, but stays average about 3 months. A shorter stay may be possible in special circumstances, with a minimum of one month.


  • As soon as a volunteer is selected, he/she should begin working with DGH and its local partner organization. In this manner, he/she can demonstrate commitment prior to their travel and more easily incorporate into projects upon arrival abroad. Previous volunteers have spent their pre-travel time collecting medical equipment or books, reviewing medical literature on specific subjects, contributing ideas or mobilizing resources for a project, etc. Likewise, on your return, your commitment to the community you are now a part of, and to the community of DGH, will be reflected through presentations, teaching human rights, and in other ways to share the voice and lives of those with whom you have worked.


  • A conversational knowledge of the native language is essential. Part of the interview with a past volunteer will be conducted in the native language.


  • All volunteers are expected to be respectful of the society and culture in which they will work. Respect for women's rights is essential. Volunteers work under the direction of and alongside local people. Often village health promoters and midwives teach the volunteers, which we see as a privilege.


  • Volunteering is demanding, but extremely rewarding. The amount you learn and contribute is directly linked to your effort. The work volunteers do involves long hours and is not necessarily glamorous. Weekends are not guaranteed off, nor are all evenings. It is hard work, sometimes physically and often mentally, but always rewarding.


  • We welcome volunteers from many different professions, including (but not limited to) physicians, medical students, physical therapists, social workers, nurses, engineers, teachers, agronomists, artists and lawyers. Based on your situation and level of training, special requirements and circumstances may apply.


  • After you indicate to us which site you prefer, we will send you more information regarding the specific details of the placements.


  • You must provide your own airfare and transportation to your site. You must also have health insurance, including emergency evacuation insurance. Other expenses vary based on placement.


  • Volunteers are expected to learn about the country in which they would like to volunteer. Volunteers should learn about the cultural, social, health and human rights history prior to volunteering. See DGH's suggested reading list.


  • Volunteers must sign a release of liability prior to volunteering. Various hazards including, but not limited to, illness, violence, and political unrest, are inherent in any work in developing nations. Volunteers are responsible for their own well-being during their volunteer position and will not hold DGH responsible for the inherent hazards of their position.


>> To apply, fill out the DGH Volunteer Application Form. <<


If there is not a position available for you abroad at present, there are other ways in which you can work with DGH in the United States. DGH affirms the philosophy of "think globally, act locally," and encourages all volunteers to promote our mission locally as well as nationally and internationally.