If you have not travelled much before, it is really hard to know what to expect. When anticipating their time overseas, many international volunteers (and their loved ones) are, understandably, often concerned about safety and security.
Naturally, we can never guarantee a volunteer experience to be 100% trouble-free. However, we have taken all necessary precautions to ensure our programs are as safe as possible. Every program that PMGY offers has been personally inspected and selected by the PMGY team. We have stayed in the accommodation, experienced the orientation and worked on the volunteer projects. Through our frequent visits and daily communications, we have built strong, trusting relationships with our local teams around the world.
We appreciate that it can be unnerving travelling abroad. However, with our detailed outlines below, we hope to settle many of these worries.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY THE WORD ‘SAFETY’?
When you think about it broadly, the term ‘safety’ can be broken down into a number of contributing factors. When it comes down to travelling with PMGY, there are two major components to this:
• The safety we provide to our participants
• The actions of our participants to maintain the safe network we work hard to promote
HOW DOES PMGY PROMOTE VOLUNTEER SAFETY?
Safety is a number one priority on all PMGY volunteer programs. Through the schemes noted below, PMGY works to reduce participant risks and protect their safety during their time overseas:
Pre-Departure – ‘Pre-departure’ refers to everything provided by PMGY in advance of a volunteer’s trip abroad with us.
Program Information – Our International Team works hard to ensure that all literature is as up-to-date and accurate as possible. This allows prospective participants to have the best understanding of what they are signing up for. For any unanswered or specific questions, PMGY offers a comprehensive support network. This includes online and telephone support staff, available 24 hours each day. Our team welcomes participants to ask as many questions as needed when deciding whether a project is right for them.
Through our literature, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of what you can expect with PMGY. Each of our project web pages provides thorough overviews of what you need to know about each program opportunity. Through this, we hope to provide you with all the information you need to choose your best-suited destination.
On a monthly basis, our International Team also hosts an online Introductory Webinar. This presentation offers an interactive opportunity for prospective participants to learn more about PMGY volunteer projects.
Medical Declaration – All individuals are required to declare any medical and/or dietary requirements that could impact their time overseas. Participants with declared conditions are asked to review and acknowledge PMGY’s terms on health and safety management. This is to be done prior to confirming their place overseas. These terms aim to ensure that participants can enjoy their experience abroad in a safe and responsible manner.
It is important for us to manage expectations whilst ensuring a high level of safety for all our participants. There are several factors that must be considered before heading overseas. This can include cultural differences and project set-ups.
If you have any concerns about your ability to complete a PMGY program, you are encouraged to contact us. This will allow us to discuss the different programs that we offer. In turn, this will enable you to assess which of these may be the most suitable for you.
Handbooks – Every PMGY participant is provided with a country-specific Volunteer Handbook, outlining every aspect of their program overseas. Alongside visa requirements and packing lists, these guides provide key information about safety and cultural factors. It is important for you to read this thoroughly and keep them in mind during your travels overseas.
Pre-Departure Briefings – Each PMGY participant is strongly advised to attend our pre-departure information sessions. Our webinars cover three topics:
• Travel Essentials – everything our participants need to know before joining our teams in-country
• Program Preparation – providing participants with a strong foundation to partake in their project
• Safety & Wellbeing – safety advice to ensure participants are best prepared to avoid potential risks during their time overseas
These interactive sessions provide participants with invaluable advice for their upcoming trip. It also acts as an additional opportunity for participants to ask questions.
Communication Channels – Participants will be provided with PMGY HQ and local contact details prior to arrival onto the program. This includes all in-country and International PMGY emergency numbers. For all enquiries in the build-up to a PMGY trip, you can contact us at any time. Our team love to chat and will be very happy to help discuss even the smallest of concerns or queries!
In-Country – ‘In-country’ refers to everything provided by our local PMGY representatives during your time in your chosen destination.
Your Home Away From Home – Each program and accommodation has been extensively researched by our International Team. These continue to be monitored on a regular basis to ensure that our locations remain safe and suitable for international volunteering.
Visits by the PMGY International Team are performed annually to re-evaluate precautions we take to ensure our participant’s safety. We have lived in the accommodation, experienced the orientation and worked on the volunteer projects. Our accommodations are safe, secure and comfortable to ensure that you always feel at home. Our International Team is also in daily contact with our local teams to assist with in-country management.
Orientation – Upon arrival, our participants are given a comprehensive orientation session by our local coordinators. Our team goes through everything from project introductions, to emergency procedures, how to use local transport and cultural differences. During this period, our team also provides participants with a full list of the important contact numbers. You will be given the chance to explore the local area, helping you to feel settled as soon as possible.
Transport Links – A participant’s daily journey to their project within the local community can vary between our PMGY destinations. In some destinations, transport will be arranged for you. In others, you may have the unique experience to experience the local commute. Regardless, our local teams will always accompany you on your first day to show you how it works. If it takes you a little longer to learn the ropes, our teams will accompany you until you are comfortable.
In-Country Staff & 24-Hour Support – All our local teams have years of experience hosting international volunteers. They are PMGY’s representatives on the ground and are on-hand to assist our participants 24/7 throughout their stay. Additionally, our 24-hour International Emergency Line is always accessible in addition to this.
Rest assured that you will have a strong support system throughout your entire PMGY journey!
Completion of the Program – PMGY actively encourages participant feedback to ensure that improvements can be made accordingly. Feedback is reviewed frequently with PMGY local teams to ensure that any necessary changes are implemented as appropriate. In turn, this helps to maintain participant experience and safety as its highest level.
HOW DO YOU STAY SAFE AS A PARTICIPANT WITH PMGY?
Whilst we have done everything we can to ensure your safety, there are always inherent risks associated with travel. This means that it is important to be vigilant at all times. Whilst most individuals will have a trouble-free experience overseas, it is easy to get too comfortable and sometimes careless.
When it comes down to managing your safety abroad, you can break it down into being sensible, wise and aware. Together, this means that you are thinking before every action, acting in line with the most appropriate safety measures.
By joining our volunteer organisation, there is a high chance that you will be in a developing country. Naturally, this means that there will be differences in culture, ways of thinking and ways of life. Consequently, it is vital that our international volunteers adapt and act appropriately during their time abroad.
Ultimately, you can ensure your safety in three main ways during your time abroad with PMGY:
• Always seek and follow the advice of local PMGY staff
• Avoid putting yourself in compromising positions
• Read your Volunteer Handbook in detail, in advance of your arrival
There are many aspects to give thought to when acting safely overseas. Below are some factors which you are encouraged to strongly consider: