“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi

For three days in late January, nine inspiring and committed volunteers descended to our New York City office from the US, Canada, and Britain to take part in the winter volunteer orientation.

During the course of the three days, our soon-to-be-in-the-field volunteers went through a series of trainings and workshops led by CMMB staff and special guests. In addition to learning more about CMMB, our mission, and about the countries where they will serve, the volunteers also received valuable insight into,

  1. Global health opportunities and challenges
  2. Cultural humility and cross-cultural communications
  3. Health and safety abroad, and
  4. Managing stress and developing resiliency.

The Global Volunteer Team

The team of people who lead the global volunteer program include:

Dick Day, Senior Vice President of Programs

Dick Day in South Sudan

Dick Day in South Sudan

Heidi West, Senior Specialist

Heidi West and volunteer Erica in Zambia at Mwandi Mission Hospital

Heidi (right) with Erica Tafadzwa Betaa volunteer serving in Zambia

Marcia Grand Ortega, Senior Specialist

Marcia in the field in Mwandi

Marcia in Zambia during a medical mission trip

Brian Gabriel, CoordinatorBrian Gabriel

These are the people behind the “curtain” who spend months and months identifying, recruiting, and interviewing potential candidates to serve as volunteers. They communicate with country office staff in Haiti, Kenya, Peru, South Sudan, and Zambia to do needs assessments so that they can find qualified health professionals whose skills compliment the needs on the ground.

Our amazing volunteer team spend endless hours and late nights at the office in preparation for the orientation. They plan trainings and workshops, find relevant and engaging guest speakers, and organize places to stay and eat so that when our volunteers arrive they can focus on the task at hand, preparing for their time in the field.

Our volunteer team are the people who serve those who are serving the world.

Guest Speakers

This year we had two guest speakers who came to address the volunteers.

Dr. Terry-Ann Jones, Director of International Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology at Fairfield University led the session about cultural humility and cross-cultural communications. Dr. Jones, who grew up in Jamaica, brought her own experiences interacting and observing US volunteers in her childhood village as the basis upon which to lead this discussion. She highlighted concepts including culture and biases, and the challenges of service abroad.  In addition to providing extensive expertise and new resources to our team, she encouraged us to examine our own culture and to try to understand that what we bring with us impacts our ability to develop relationships and serve effectively. The big take-away: observe and listen closely and remember we don’t have all the answers.

“I see intercultural competence as a continuum, a life journey that starts with understanding who you are.” – Dr. Jones

Dr. Jones addresses the volunteers during the three-day orientation

Dr. Helene Calvet – CMMB volunteer and longtime advocate of our work – returned to lead a session about global health opportunities and challenges. Dr. Calvet brought her 17 years of experience in public health and training on STD education to help us review the current definitions, guiding principles and mandates in the field of global health; and the importance of social determinants of health when working with a holistic and long-term focus. She tapped in on her extensive field experience in Mexico, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Guatemala and other sites in Latin America, and on her recent work as a mission volunteer at our Mwandi Mission Hospital in Zambia to illustrate the opportunities and challenges of working within low resource settings and the ethical challenges that professionals may face while in the field.

“Cut your expectations in half, then again and then again.”

Dr. Helene Calvet

Dr. Helene Calvet addresses the group of new volunteers.

New Friendships Forged

Through all the learning and the questioning, perhaps the most important thing to emerge were the friendships. Volunteers with fellow volunteers, and volunteers with the staff at CMMB.  Everyone here at CMMB knows that the people who go out to serve in the communities where we work are among our most important resources. They truly are our hands and hearts on the ground.

Relationships are key

Three Inspiring Days Captured in Images

Heidi leads the session to start the volunteer orientation

Our volunteer team makes initial introductions and welcomes to the volunteers.

Chris Foster led a session highlighting CMMB’s mission, vision, and strategy for delivering healthier lives worldwide.

Adrian Kerrigan and the partnership team talk to the volunteers

The partnership team, led by Adrian Kerrigan, talk to the volunteers about our medical donations program and the importance of partnerships.

John Necarsulmer longtime supporter of CMMB and future volunteer and advisor

John Necarsulmer longtime supporter of CMMB and future volunteer and advisor

John Necarsulmer and Dr. Helene Calvet listen to Mindy Weschler share her thoughts.

John Necarsulmer and Dr. Helene Calvet listen to Mindy Weschler share her thoughts.

Lucian lee talks about Haiti

Alumni volunteer, Lucian Lee, came back to address our newest cohort of international volunteers during a networking event. In addition to meeting fellow volunteers, he gave a talk about his experience in Haiti, offering some important advice and wisdom.

L:ucian Lee, alumni volunteer who served in Haiti, shares important advice and insight from his experience in the field.

Lucian Lee and his captivated audience

Lucian has missed Haitian food

Lucian has missed Haitian food.

Laura Manni leads a workshop about the importance of sharing stories.

Sharing stories

Dr. Eddy shares a part of his story with Lauren.

Learning and listening

Joanna and Matthew learn about Lauren’s journey to CMMB.

Yombo Tankoano and Claudia Llanten talk about our country programs and give a brief talk about CHAMPS

Senior Health Specialist, Yombo Tankoano, talks about our programs in country, CHAMPS (children and mothers partnerships), and our approach.

Studious volunteers

Mindy and Beverly preparing for the next session about health and safety abroad.

Andrew Bhattacharya

Andrew Bhattacharya, Director of Compliance and Grants, gives an important talk about health and safety and a workshop around managing stress and developing resilience.

Together the volunteers learned a lot about each other.

Marcia Grand Ortega, Senior Specialist with the global volunteer program, leads a session about setting expectations.

Yombo leads the "country walk" for volunteers heading to Kenya

Yombo leads the “country walk” for volunteers heading to Kenya. The country walk includes a call with a member of the country office team so that volunteers get the chance to ask questions.

Joanna and Lauren show off their new volunteer gear!

Lauren and Matt have a funny moment eating lunch.

Volunteers who eat together, stay together.

Commitment Ceremony

To end the three days, all the volunteers gathered along with the staff to share intentions, hopes, and well wishes.

At the commitment ceremony

Joanna is off to Kenya. She was tearful at the end.

Joanna, an aurora fellow who is heading off to Kenya, shares some parting words for her fellow volunteers and the CMMB staff.

Niki shares some words about her intentions

Niki shares her intentions and hopes for the time she will serve in Peru.

Beverly speaks about her hopes

Beverly shares her prayers for fellow volunteers.

Mehdi sad to say goodbye

Mehdi, sad to say goodbye

To all our new volunteers, welcome to the CMMB family. We wish you well as you embark on your journey.

Learn more about our 2018 international volunteers 

Join our team!