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Central America

Global Partners-Central America teams collaborate with non-governmental organizations and local health professionals to improve access to vital healthcare, promote education and facilitate community development.

Global Partners worked in Nicaragua from 2010-2018. Global Partners halted volunteer trips to Nicaragua in spring 2019 after widespread civil unrest led the U.S. State Department to increase the travel advisory level.

Global Partners currently sends volunteer teams to Costa Rica. Due to the unrest, approximately 55,000 Nicaraguans have sought refuge in Costa Rica, joining 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans who have immigrated to Costa Rica since the 1980s. Many immigrants have limited access to healthcare and living wage jobs.

In November 2019, Global Partners sent a small volunteer team to Guatemala to explore opportunities for developing medical and education partnerships. In the past, Global Partners provided training and services in women's health, surgery, podiatry, early literacy, lending libraries, teacher workshops, nursing, medical and birth attendant education, nursing education and vision screening. Similar initiatives will be developed as Global Partners expands its work in Central America.

Initiatives

Costa Rica

Education workshops

Global Partners provides teacher workshops to organizations and schools in communities with limited resources. Topics focus on fundamental skills including early literacy, reading, math and classroom management.

Why this matters: Children who do not achieve reading and literacy skills in primary school will have lower educational and economic developmental opportunities in their future.

Vision screening

Global Partners provides comprehensive eye exams and glasses to immigrant and indigenous populations with limited or no access to vision services.

Why this matters: There is a shortage of trained eye doctors in Central America, making it difficult for many individuals—especially those living in remote areas or in poverty situations—to receive eye care.

Women's health

Global Partners volunteers provide education, exams and early treatment of cervical cancer along with education on self-breast exams to women in underserved areas. They also train local providers in early detection and treatment of cervical cancer.

Why this matters: Lack of effective prevention and detection programs in low-resource countries contributes to breast cancer being detected at more advanced stages, with lower survival rates.

Guatemala

In November 2019, an exploratory team traveled to four cities and met with a variety of organizations in Guatemala. They found promising opportunities for partnerships and the development of initiatives in the region. Discussions for sending a small pilot team in 2020 are underway.

Volunteer

If you are interested in volunteering on a trip to Central America, please fill out this volunteer form.

Frequently asked questions

How much do trips to Central America cost?
Trips to Central America typically cost between $1,850-$2,100 which includes flight, hotel, breakfast, transportation, interpreters and other team expenses. Other potential expenses include medication/vaccinations, passport fees and some meals. Gundersen employees may apply for a Global Partners grant for up to $500 in trip costs.

Do volunteers need to have a medical background?
No, volunteers do not need to have a medical background; volunteers from a variety of backgrounds are needed. Please complete a volunteer form to describe your interest and a member of the Global Partners team will follow up with you to discuss opportunities.

Does Gundersen provide time off for my trip?
You may choose to take PTO or unpaid time off; you will need to make arrangements with your manager. Gundersen medical staff may also use CME time, but not CME money.

For more information on specific trip details, please refer to our Central America Volunteer Info document.

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