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Volunteering Abroad Packing List

Updated on December 5, 2010
Volunteering in Haiti: SansBug mosquito net tents
Volunteering in Haiti: SansBug mosquito net tents

There are many reasons why people want to volunteer abroad. The biggest one for most is the desire to helps others less fortunate than themselves and to give back to society for the blessings they have received in their own lives. For many, volunteering is a way to balance the scales between the “haves and the have-nots.” For others, it is a way to show their devotion to a particular cause or culture.

No matter the reasons why you may be thinking of volunteering, living abroad in a foreign land for an extended period of time, especially in a country with much poverty and social challenges, is not an easy feat. This is especially true if you volunteer after a devastating natural disaster, such as the earthquake, tsunami, or hurricane. You will have to pack a few things you would not need to take in your other travels.

Conditions in developing countries

The fact is, most Americans and other Westerners take for granted sanitary conditions and medical attention. A volunteer in a developing country or one which has just experienced an event like a major earthquake is suddenly confronted with such hardships as no clean water to drink, unsanitary sewer conditions, and exposure to diseases and infections on a daily basis.

Scientists have concluded that when these type of conditions are present, the mosquito is the most dangerous killer in the world.  Millions of people die each year from malaria alone, not to mention such diseases as dengue fever, various forms of encephalitis, chikungunya, yellow fever, West Nile Virus, and many others.

In November, three-time surfing champion Andy Irons died from dengue fever, thought to be contracted while he was in Puerto Rico. He was only 32 years old. This year many countries, such as Puerto Rico, are reporting the highest incidents ever of dengue fever and other infectious diseases. In Puerto Rico alone, there have been twenty deaths in 2010 from dengue fever with nearly 12,000 cases reported.

Take precautions for infectious diseases

When you prepare to volunteer abroad, be sure to check with your particular program to find out which items are necessities in your location. You will also want to make sure you receive any applicable vaccines beforehand and that you take enough prescription medications to get you through your stay, in case they are unavailable in your part of the world.

The best way to avoid getting infectious diseases carried by insects is to prevent bites in the first place. Some methods to accomplish this goal include to sleep beneath mosquito netting, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants instead of t-shirts and shorts, and to use insect repellent on any skin which remains exposed. Be sure to pack all of these items to take on your trip abroad.

SansBug tent keeps mosquitoes at bay

You can also easily take along a new product which is superb at keeping mosquitoes at bay. The SansBug tent is a lightweight shelter that protects you from mosquitoes and other biting insects. There are no poles to maneuver into place and it eliminates the need to hunt for a spot from which you can suspend your mosquito netting.

The SansBug tent pops up in just a second, and because it has a sewn-in ground sheet you will have no worries about cockroaches, snakes or other creepy-crawlies. The 1-person SansBug tent folds to a 26-inch disc, which can fit in the overhead bin during your flight. You can carry at least a dozen of these tents in a large duffel bag, which can be obtained from any army surplus store.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of others, volunteering is a good way to do it. Before you go, however, do some research into the best programs and into some of the necessities to take with you, like the SansBug tent. It could end up saving your life.

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