Nursing can be an incredibly rewarding career, no matter the venue. However nursing volunteers in countries most desperately in need of healthcare are reaping the satisfaction of enormous fulfillment, even under dire circumstances. Aiding in countries hardest hit by poverty, natural disasters and disease often provides concrete evidence that what nursing volunteers are doing is making an impact.
Obviously it’s not only the nursing volunteers who gain satisfaction. By helping those in developing areas of the world the population grows stronger, healthier, and able to better contribute to their community. Volunteer nursing also helps those in healthcare hone their skills and abilities in ways that are rare in the non-first-world countries.
Why Nursing Volunteers are Essential to World Health
Many of the countries that clamor for nursing volunteers may never otherwise be given attention. It’s easy to see the immediate needs of so many areas when they’re front and center on the evening news. Haiti, for instance, has been the victim of relentless assaults by Mother Nature. Certain African countries where citizens have been denied access to even the most basic of human needs due to civil war and unrest. Sadly, once the cameras go home the needs are no longer in the spotlight and these areas desperate for care tend to be forgotten.
Where Nursing Volunteers are Needed Right Now
If the idea of taking your nursing talents on the road interests you, you may want to give your attention to one of these 3 countries as they are among the most desperate for healthcare.
After more than 3 decades of a dictatorship that severely limited education for much of Paraguay’s population, the results are a tragic lack of trained healthcare workers. The impact of a lack of qualified healthcare professionals is exponential. Not only are the residents of Paraguay not afforded access to doctors and nurses, the lack of professional healthcare workers means not enough doctors and nurses are available to begin training the next generation.
No longer under the rule of dictatorship Paraguay’s economy is getting healthier by the day. The people of Paraguay are warm and welcoming and desperate for your help and experience as a nurse. There is ample opportunity in Paraguay for nursing volunteers. You can work in one of the missions set up to help the indigenous population, find placement in a hospital, or even try your hand at teaching the next generation.
Paraguay is a safe environment for nursing volunteers from the US, which makes it an excellent starting point. The Embassy reports no known threats at this time. Spanish is spoken throughout Paraguay and is to your advantage to understand and speak, however Guarani is also widely spoken.
Already one of the most impoverished countries in the world, Haiti has been the victim of unrelenting natural disasters in recent years. Hurricanes, earthquakes, and abject poverty create a desperate need by the people of Haiti for nursing volunteers. Statistics are devastating; life expectancy is less than 50 years, 79 out of 1000 live births end in infant mortality, over 140,000 residents are infected with HIV and only half of the population of Haiti has access to clean drinking water. As far as access to healthcare, there are 11 nurses and 25 physicians per 100,000 Haitians.
Although security is of moderate concern for US residents traveling to Haiti, the biggest warnings concern lack of access to medical care and unhealthy surroundings. The US Department of State encourages nursing volunteers interested in traveling to Haiti to coordinate with organizations already in place.
There are so many countries on the continent of Africa that are lacking in even the most basic of healthcare. Kenya is no exception. This breathtakingly beautiful country has almost no healthcare support, especially in rural areas. Relatively impoverished Kenya provides several options for nursing volunteers.
Nurses with experience or interest in treatment of global disease will be able to address one of the deadliest. Kenya is fourth in the worst HIV epidemics world wide. Nearly 2 million Kenyans are living with HIV and a staggering number of Kenyans die from AIDS-related illnesses each year, leaving close to 2 million children orphaned and in need of care.
Of course Kenya, as many countries in Africa, is under constant flux as far as safety. Terrorism, violent crime, and constant unrest has resulted in ever-changing US State Department Guidelines involving travel. The best step you can take if you’re interested in travel to Kenya is to check with the State Department and healthcare organizations already in place.
Sharing Beyond Your Own Community
Of course there are far more countries in need of nursing volunteers than these 3. It isn’t difficult to find opportunities and the payoff is amazing for all involved. Sharing your talents wit those desperate for them is one of the most gratifying experiences for any nurse at any stage of their career.
Along with the deep satisfaction of making a difference, nursing volunteers abroad experience adventure in ways beyond that of the typical-or even ‘extreme’- traveller. You’ll discover other cultures, forge relationships, increase your sense of compassion and open your mind and heart to a world beyond the borders of your own community. The benefits gained through volunteer nursing abroad are endless.