Thank you for your interest in becoming a volunteer for our organization. We rely heavily on individuals like you and we are always interested in new recruits.
Of course, our needs vary greatly but in general we are looking for help in all aspects of our program. You would be assigned to various tasks depending on your skills, your interest in a particular face of the AIDS problem, and the length of your commitment. The home visitor program, for example, would not be suitable for anyone mot planning to stay for several months, at least, because the success of the program depends on establishing ongoing relationships with our clients. There are, however, other opportunities without this restriction.
Knowledge of some Spanish is highly recommended but not required. Most islanders speak a little English. Bring a dictionary.
No particular experience is required but anything helps. You will want to educate yourself on AIDS and AIDS issues, particularly problems faced by third world countries. There are many books on the subject. The internet is also a valuable resource.
Our primary focus at this time is to reduce the rate of mother-to-child transmission of the AIDS virus, both before and after birth. We will be running testing clinics throughout Roatan and the surrounding Bay Islands. Testing, of course, is voluntary so part of our job is marketing the idea to pregnant women. AIDS remains very much a stigma here in Honduras so getting the cooperation of these women is of paramount importance.
We can also use office help, assistance with our donations, organizational support in setting up our clinics, and a multitude of odd jobs including simple cleaning and day-to-day office tasks.
Mothers, babies and children are regular visitors at the office. Be prepared to interact with clients (in Spanish and English). You may want to become familiar with common pediatric health concerns, for example, colds and flu, cough, runny nose, and fever, as many clients will ask your advice in these areas. As our organization does HIV testing and partners with a pre/post natal care organization, be prepared to see urine, blood and other bodily fluids.
A few things to consider before deciding to join us:
- Housing is not provided and you should be prepared to spend some time finding something suitable. Reasonable accommodations can usually be found for around $400 (American) a month. Something more upscale, with air conditioning and all the comforts of home, will run much more. You may want to team up with one or more people to cut down on expenses.
- We cannot reimburse you for any transportation expenses, nor do we provide a stipend or allowance. Unless you rent a car, at about $40 per day, you will have to rely on taxis. They are readily available – you cannot stand in one place without a taxi coming along. There are two rate structures for cabs and you should be sure of the cost in advance or you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. Hiring a cab to take you from one place to another without any stops is very expensive. You should be sure you get a “collectivo” cab. The driver will stop as often as necessary along the route to pick up and discharge other passengers. You can usually get around for about $1.50, sometimes less, per trip using these cabs. The final alternative is a minibus. They are cheaper, sometimes as little as .50 depending on your destination. These, too, will make many stops along the way. It would be reasonable to expect to pay a minimum of about $6 per day for transportation expenses but, of course, that would depend on where you are staying. Our office is in Coxen Hole but you may be working in other areas.
- Roatan is not a cheap place to live due to the tourism industry and the large expatriate population. Here is a Here is an idea of simple costs in Roatan, using an exchange rate of 18.85 (1 US dollar is approximately equivalent to 18.85 Honduras Lempiras):
|Item||Lempiras||US Dollars||Canadian Dollars|
|Plate of Island Food||45||2.35||2.76|
|Taxi (you’ll take a taxi at least twice a day) Depends on destination.||20||1.06||1.24|
|Phone Card||min 25||1.33||1.50|
|Large Bottled Water (for your home)||25||1.33||1.50|
|Small Bottled Water (500 mL)||18||1.00||1.20|
|Internet (in café) per hour||50||2.66||2.99|
|International Phone calls per min.||19||1.00||1.20|
|Hotel (until you find permanent accommodation)||25 - 50||29 - 59|
- Be prepared to experience stomach upset or indigestion, which are very common amongst tourists here. You can purchase Immodium on the island. Visit a traveler’s health clinic to inquire about diseases in Honduras.Maleria is not fatal here so you do not require anti-malarial medication.
- You will want to bring weather-appropriate office clothing such as cotton pants, skirts and summer tops. Shorts are not considered office wear in Roatan. If you come during “winter”, from November to February, you will want to bring a warm sweater and pants for night, and a rain jacket.
Because Roatan is also a world-class dive center, with a wonderful reef right off thecoast and some outstanding beaches, you can probably have a great vacation in your free time. We do have a few rules:
- No drug or alcohol use. Drugs on the island have played a significant part in the AIDS epidemic and we cannot tolerate their use by any of our workers.
- You must agree to maintain the confidentiality of our clients. They cannot be in any way identified to anyone. AIDS and HIV positive people are treated badly here if their condition is known so we must protect their privacy at all costs.
- Familias Saludables has no religious affiliations and we ask that you not engage in any religious missionary activities with our clients. We do encourage adherence to a universal value system and moral code. We are committed to caring for, understanding and respecting the human dignity of our clients.
- We have found from past experience that we must ask volunteers to agree to an exit clause. This requires that you have a minimum of $1,000 in an account accessible to you to cover you in the event of an emergency. This will assure that we will be able to get you home without delay if the need arises. This can be in the form of cash (not recommended), your own bank account with a sufficient balance, a credit card with sufficient chargeability or an account, easily accessible by you, or a family member.
I hope this information has been beneficial to you and that you still have an interest in joining us. Please let us know if you have any questions.