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Safety and Security
HELP International is dedicated to offering a wide variety of volunteer opportunities to young people seeking to change their lives, while creating positive change in the world. We know that we are only as safe as our least informed and vigilant participant. HELP has recognized the importance of establishing policies and procedures in the effort to protect the safety and well-being of HELP participants, while acknowledging that no single plan can address all contingencies.
Please read the HELP International Code of Conduct. The guidelines in this document have been carefully considered in order to keep our volunteers safe. Abiding by these requirements is an essential part of a safe volunteer experience.
For more detailed information regarding security while traveling abroad, HELP International recommends reading through the "Safe Trip Abroad" US State Department's notice.
Listed below are a few of the ways HELP strives to keep our programs, before and during participation, as safe as possible.
- HELP regularly and responsibly monitors safety issues in each of our program locations. A review of all programs at a local, regional, and country level is conducted in which safety, security, and overall quality are addressed.
- HELP consults with other organizations that send people abroad and monitors and analyzes the U.S. Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) updates. American Embassy Chief's of Security or officers are also consulted as needed overseas.
- All HELP programs are registered with the OSAC's local Regional Service Office (RSO) to receive regular safety and warden messages.
- Each HELP program's safety and security conditions are evaluated yearly by our board of trustees. The board has ultimate authority for approving the safety of programs and sites, and has the ability to cancel programs or revise them to address safety and security concerns.
- Participants are required to attend or watch a health, safety, and security training session that stresses safety issues.
- Emergency procedures are in place, including medical and general emergency evacuation procedures.
- Each HELP Country Director is required to carry an international cell phone to facilitate emergency communications. If there is a problem, HELP Participants can use the cell phone to call internationally and talk directly to the HELP's Directors.
HELP International strives to keep volunteers informed of conditions and decisions related to travel safety and well-being. However, in constantly changing international environments, it is necessary that each participant take responsibility for his/her own safety by staying informed and conducting themselves according to appropriate cultural and social contexts. The tools and resources we provide--such as tips from the U.S. State Department, or constantly updated consular information to our Country Directors, HELP rules and regulations and trainings, and security briefings distributed by the U.S. State Department local Regional Service officers--can only do so much to keep you safe. With all resources in hand, it is still up to individuals to make wise and prudent choices while abroad. In other words, HELP cannot absolutely guarantee any one Participants' safety while abroad, but taking certain precautionary steps can be a means to mitigating security risks. Even still, taking the proper precautions is not an absolute guarantee to avoiding safety incidents; traveling internationally inherently comes with certain risks.