Himalayan Health & Hearing Volunteers
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Himalayan Health and Hearing (HH&H) welcomes assistance from people interested in improving the hearing and health of disadvantaged people in the Himalayan region.
Help is required in a variety of ways, and a range of skills and interests can be of value to the people we support. This promotes a “circle of kindness” where all efforts keep the end focus in mind.
Our focus is on providing hearing and other health services to people who would otherwise be unable access them due to isolation, lack of communication or poverty.
HH&H works with and empowers local charities and NGOs on the ground in Nepal and other parts of the region order that projects and initiatives are locally developed, planned and implemented.
Nepal Association of the Hard of Hearing (NAHOH) is the main such NGO we work with in Nepal, and through this partnership, we are training others to extend the reach of education about ear and hearing care to other areas outside Kathmandu..
We provide our services free of charge or for a nominal fee, to children and adults, regardless of social class, gender, religion or ability.
We work with local Health services providers and other international colleagues in supporting ear health, community health and eye health programs in some of the poorest / most isolated areas in Nepal and the Himalayan region.
As real outcomes are achieved by building longer-term commitment to the goals of the Program, we ask volunteers to commit to a real association with the Program.
STEPS to Volunteering:
- Firstly we ask that you become a member of Himalayan Health and Hearing. This is FREE and can be done by applying HERE.
- Familiarise yourself with the Program, its goals and intentions, and what has been achieved to date, be reading the material on the website.
- Consider how you would like to contribute in real terms, either by organising a fundraising event or giving your time to one of the many tasks required to keep the Program running and developing. (See “Ways you can become involved” below)
- Members may be considered to participate in a “field trip” in Nepal or other region of the Program’s activities. These trips require long term planning, but if you wish to register your interest in volunteering in the overseas part of the program, please complete Steps 1 and 2 above, then contact us.
How you can contribute to the Himalayan Health and Hearing Program?
HH&H is run entirely by volunteers, led by founders lew & Sue Tuck, however a large number of people have donated their time, energy and skills for the benefit of the Program to bring it to its current stage of development, and it is always under review with the clear focus in mind to compassionately benefit as many people as possible.
People who have a proven commitment to assisting the Program through other volunteering avenues will be prioritised when allocating “field tripper” positions in remote camps.
Ways you can become involved:
Gaining sufficient funds is essential for us to be able to continue to provide hearing assessments and hearing aids to the people in the Himalayan region who need these services. Combined Ear Camps with other areas of health services in some areas have enabled us to reach more people and increase the benefits.
Funds are used to purchase equipment, resources and engage and train local staff.
Equipment includes audiometers for testing hearing, otoscopes for examining ears, materials for making ear impressions, as well as consumables such as batteries, calibration materials and safe power-generating equipment such as inverters, stabilisers and solar panels for use in remote areas.
We rely on donors to keep our services free or at low cost, so that they are accessible by all those we work with.
Fundraising projects might include:
- Individual pursuits/ challenges, fun runs, morning teas, dinner parties etc.
- Workplace/team challenges or regular giving
- School-based fundraising drives, these may include forming a “penpal” type relationship between children from Australia and Himalayan counties.
- Running of “market stalls” selling Himalayan goods (these can be provided from goods brought back for this purpose, helping those we buy from as well as the HH&H Program)
- Canvassing support of donations via the website by word of mouth awareness raising of the Program among your friends/ local area – Invite people to become a member and keep informed of the Program’s activities.
Let us know if you have an idea and we will endeavour to provide support and resource materials that will help you.
Promoting the work of HH&H
Many people in our community are not aware of the services of HH&H and the benefits we deliver.
By assisting adults with hearing impairment to reconnect with their children, grandchildren and their communities through hearing and restored communication ability, HH&H is providing a humanitarian as well as a hearing service.
By assisting children with hearing impairment, we offer them the possibility of education, employment and full participation in their community.
You can help promote this work by :
- Doing presentations in your local community to spread the word about HH&H ( print & digital resources can be provided).
- Distributing brochures, posters and newsletters within your community.
- Networking and spreading the word through social media by sharing our Facebook page and sharing links to our website.
- Seeking donations of hearing aids (both old and new) and sourcing donations for specific equipment.
- Hearing Devices Bank – Many hearing aids and cochlear implant parts that are no longer needed in Australia can have a new life assisting someone in the Himalayas.
HH&H needs help in
- Collecting donated hearing aids, cochlear implant parts, and audiological equipment in good working order.
- Checking and “refurbishing” hearing aids (at the offices of Whitsunday Hearing, Cannonvale, QLD)
- Pre-programming devices to different hearing loss levels, and marking their specifications for fitting. (This can be useful if a situation arises where the power or equipment fails in a remote area.) It also makes selection of devices easier for those with limited training in device selection, especially when working in remote locations or busy ear camps.
Using your special skills
From time to time, HH&H needs specialist skills eg policy development, web design, video photography, audiovisual production projects, power point design to assist in further fundraising etc.
The skills required are specific and time limited.
If you are interested in volunteering your skills and time for a specific project, then let us know.
Sponsorship and Donations
- Sponsor the cost of getting to an Ear Camp – these vary widely depending on the distance and remoteness of the location.
- Donations of audiology equipment in good working order are always needed. Audiometers and middle ear test equipment must be in good order and recently calibrated (within the last 4 years).
- Sponsor the medicines for a remote Ear Camp
- Specific Sponsorship of local tuition for hearing impaired children once they have had a hearing aid fitted.
- Costs of providing training to local health workers, eg travel to attend formal courses, resources to perform the job in their local communities
- Sponsor a dedicated piece of equipment for use by local health personnel (See Zonta donation of video otoscope in Ladakh.)
- “Donate your birthday” – after all, haven’t you had enough already??? Ask friends and family to give to the Program rather than giving birthday gifts – every dollar makes a difference to someone’s life. All donations over $2 are tax deductible
Volunteer Opportunities in Nepal and India
The Nepali government has strict guidelines about the type of activity people on a tourist visa can perform, and is increasingly vigilant about policing this policy. Visitors to Nepal, travelling on a Tourist Visa are unable to work directly with people, though opportunities for education and training remain.
Working visas are difficult to obtain, so we do not offer direct clinical work opportunities for volunteers with our program in Nepal.
Other programs may be able to do so, see
- EarAid Nepal, http://www.earaidnepal.org/
- Nepal Hearing Project. http://www.windofchangeinternational.com.au/our-work/nepal-hearing-project/
However, there may be opportunities for volunteers to support our experienced team in the Himalayas as part of HH&H work, eg:
- Teaching and training local staff and personnel in specific skill sets
- Teaching English or other skills
- Generally just being an extra pair of hands
NB: Places on these expeditions are limited and require long-term planning.
We currently plan our remote ear camps 12- 18 months in advance, so participation in a remote camp needs this lead-in time.
Himalayan Health & Hearing Inc.
Field Tripper Policy
Version 4 Date amended 4th April 2016
Download the pdf version
This policy has been developed to protect the interests of Himalayan Health & Hearing Inc., its volunteers and most importantly, the beneficiaries of the Association. It also aims to assist those applying to volunteer within Himalayan Health & Hearing Inc. by:
- Clearly defining the goals of the Association to prospective volunteers.
- Providing guidance and information to people who are considering applying to be a volunteer.
- Managing the expectations of volunteers and the Association.
2. Suitability Criteria
The policy also has been developed to assist the Association and prospective volunteers to clarify the suitability criteria for applicants for volunteer work within the Association in terms of their
- health and well-being
- skills and experience
- ability to work as part of a team
- intention to enhance the Association ie. “to bring something to the table”
3. Volunteering with Himalayan Health & Hearing Inc.
- The Association values all contributions, big and small, made by volunteers.
- The Association aims to benefit as many people as possible with the resources available to it, including its volunteers.
- The efforts of volunteers will be used to assist the Association to achieve its object of the provision of primary ear care and rehabilitation of hearing impaired persons (as well as enabling the provision of other health services in conjunction with the ear and hearing services) in Developing Countries. Service delivery will target those people who would otherwise have no access to these services.
4. The Role of Volunteers
Volunteers can assist the Association in many ways including:
- Fundraising, either individual pursuits or by joining a larger event.
- Seeking donations of hearing aids, cochlear implant parts and accessories (new and used) and other hearing equipment to be used in Nepal and elsewhere in the Himalayan region.
- Promoting the Himalayan Health & Hearing Program and its objectives, through word of mouth, talks to community groups, and through social media.
5. Volunteers on Field Trips – Being a Field Tripper
From time to time, volunteers may apply to be a “Field Tripper” on one of the projects of the HH&H Program in Nepal or other Himalayan country.
This may include:
- Assisting our partner organisation at NAHOH or in Ear camps within the Kathmandu Valley.
- Accompanying one of the teams on a remote Health and Hearing Camp to one of the less-accessible regions of Nepal or neighbouring countries.
NOTE: These opportunities are very limited in number due to logistics and the long-range planning required for these Camps, and would be offered only where the volunteer had shown prior commitment to giving something to the Program either in donation of time, funds, or through fundraising efforts. (See the website for more information)
6. Responsibilities of Volunteers
- Volunteers must observe the rules and policies of the Association as well as the relevant laws, regulations and policies of the jurisdiction in which the volunteer work is being undertaken at all times. It will be the volunteer’s responsibility to familiarise themselves with the relevant rules, policies, laws and regulations. Volunteers should contact the Association if they require further information in this regard.
- Any task carried out by a volunteer is strictly at the volunteer’s own risk. The Association will not be held liable for the actions of volunteers.
7. How to Become a Volunteer
- Prospective volunteers must complete and submit an application form, which is available by contacting the Secretary of the Association or from the website www.himalayanhealthandhearing.org/volunteers.
Application forms are to be submitted online or by post to:-
Himalayan Health & Hearing Inc.
c/- PO Box 599
- Each application must be approved by the Management Committee before a person can become a volunteer of the Association. The Management Committee may at its sole discretion approve or decline an application.
- An applicant must be given written notice of the Management Committee’s decision within 14 days of the decision.
- The Management Committee may impose reasonable restrictions on a volunteer’s participation within the Association provided that the volunteer is given written notice of those restrictions within 14 days of the Management Committee’s decision.
- Volunteers will not be permitted to undertake volunteer work that would place them in contact with children until such time as the volunteer has undergone a satisfactory police check. The applicant must undertake the police check at the applicant’s cost. In the event that the applicant does not pass a police check, the Management Committee must either reject the applicant’s application or impose restrictions on the volunteer which prohibits the applicant from coming into contact with children. It is the policy of the Association that unsupervised contact between a child and a volunteer of the Association is prohibited.
8. Timing for Volunteer Applications
At present, while the Association’s activities are focused mainly in Nepal, projects in other areas of the Himalayan region are also being undertaken.
Travel in this region involves significant forward planning and, for this reason, any volunteer offered the opportunity to travel with the Association for an overseas Ear Camp must submit an application at least six (6) months prior to the departure date.
The prospective volunteer’s application must be accepted prior to departure.
9. Costs Involved
9.1 Travel as a volunteer with Himalayan Health & Hearing Inc. is at the volunteer’s sole cost and expense. Travel costs generally include but are not limited to:
- return airfares
- travel insurance
- clothing and equipment, and
- accommodation costs, (at the time of writing were approx. AU$60.00 per day for remote ear camps, including food and accommodation, and AU $15-40 per day for accommodation in Kathmandu)
9.2 Depending on the location and work to be undertaken by a volunteer, the Association may require a volunteer to contribute a one-off payment (varies) to cover expenses including:
- incidental damage to equipment used on Camps
- consumables including batteries, tips, impression material, repairs and calibration costs
- wages, gratuities to local assistants working with the Association
10. Other Information
10.1 About the programs
Typically, volunteer work is undertaken in conjunction with Nepal Association of the Hard of Hearing (NAHOH), Nepal Australia Friendship Association (NAFA) and Kopan Monastery in ear camps throughout various regions in Nepal and nearby countries. Many of the locations of the remote ear camps are extremely remote. Depending on the location of the ear camps, travel may be by airplane, vehicle, trekking on foot, or by other means.
10.2 Visa requirements
Volunteers entering Nepal on a Tourist Visa are not permitted to work within Nepal and this extends to activities such as a volunteer testing an ear camp patient.
“In Nepal the rules have been much stricter now and one cannot get involved in any activities even like teaching, nursing and organising other activities with a tourist visa. Any such activities would need to possess working visa and it is not easy to obtain either.” Advice from Nepali official
For audiology professionals, there is some scope for volunteers in a training role. The Nepali government does monitor the work of tourists and prosecution may result. It is essential that volunteers respect the laws and policies of Nepal and follow the directions given whilst carrying out volunteer work.
11. Types of Assistance Provided / Not Provided to Volunteers
11.1 The Association will assist volunteers by providing:
• fundraising ideas to assist with travel costs
• an introduction to a reliable trekking agency, if required
• moral support when things get difficult
• recommendations on hotels and restaurants, and
• introductions to affiliated organisations
11.2 The Association cannot provide volunteers with:-
• payment for any work undertaken by volunteers
• bookings for hotels or travel
Nor can the Association:-
• act as a travel guide;
• or take responsibility for any problems or issues faced when in Nepal.
12. Preparation by Volunteers in Overseas Projects
12.1 External Conditions
Travel to Nepal by a volunteer is strictly at the volunteer’s own risk and the Association can not guarantee the volunteers safety whilst in Nepal.
The following are some of the current issues faced by people visiting Nepal
- electricity load shedding / blackouts;
- lack of hot water in hotel
- lack of decent toilets in village areas
- food different to what you are used to; and
- language barriers, especially in rural areas.
12.2 Requirements of Volunteers on Location
- obey all applicable local laws, regulations and policies at all times;
- respect the local people and listen to what they say;
- when wanting to help, find out what people need – don’t tell or give them what you think they need or should have;
- respect the cultural differences and ways of life;
- be prepared to take only what is required on remote trips and assume responsibility for
- your belongings;
- remember, your personal life needs to be kept separate to your role as a volunteer; observe ethical discipline – keep your relationships with other team members on a professional footing – friendly but respectful.
12.3 Useful Information for Volunteers Prior to Embarking
- Read some information on Nepal. Good sources of information are the Lonely Planet guides and on-line resources on Nepal’s culture and way of life, though the Association does not guarantee the accuracy of any information.
- Talk to others who have travelled to Nepal on previous occasions.
- Seek the advice of your health professional and consider any precautions you may need to take including vaccinations.
- Seek the advice of government advisory services such as “Smart Traveller”.
- Think seriously about your motivation for volunteering and what you are hoping to gain on a personal level.