Congratulations for stumbling upon this fantastic project! We hope you enjoy your stay. Here are some guidelines we highlight, for greater success and cultural understanding. Remember to keep an open mind and be respectful of cultural differences. A good sense of humor can help you adapt, make friends, and be a more cheerful volunteer.
1. The volunteer will be assisted by the staff of the Medo to ensure his/her success until completion of his/her scheduled term. They will receive an orientation session at the beginning of their term on culture, traditions, language, services and safety information.
2. The volunteer will be asked to meet regularly with the Medo coordinator to discuss progress of activities and to receive continual assistance.
3. Volunteers should be monetarily self-sufficient, be able to live in modest accommodations, and eat simple but healthy food.(more information in the Volunteer Guide)
4. Volunteers must buy health insurance for the length of their stay prior to arriving in Panama. This should cover emergency evacuation and medical needs. We leave it up to the volunteer to choose their own provider, and consider the coverage options carefully, such as the ability to receive treatment in their home country. Volunteers should be aware that their existing policy may be inadequate and not cover them abroad.
5. Volunteers must receive all required immunizations for the province of Chiriqui.
6. It is important to dress in conservative clothing when volunteering in the Comarca. The native women wear long dresses and the men, western style clothes. It is thus inappropriate for women to dress in clothing that reveals legs or clevage because it can be seen as a sign of disrespect towards Ngobe culture and values. Please no thin-strap tank tops or shorts. We suggest women pack a couple of long skirts and conservative shirts. When outside the Comarca, such as in Panama City or David, you may dress however you feel comfortable.
7. When bathing or swiming in rivers, volunteers should remain fully dressed at all times. This means swimming in a long dress or skirt for the ladies, and walking back to your house in wet clothes. Do not change clothes by the river.
8. Participating volunteers must not become romantically and /or sexually involved with members of the Ngobe community, to preserve the integrity and reputation of the program.
9. The volunteers must not have drugs in their possession, and must maintain proper behavior (ie, not get drunk and start fights).
10. Participants should not be politically active.
11. Volunteers should not get involved in nor impose their opinions or values in situations of moral dilemma.
12. The volunteers should not give or lend money to members of the community.
13. Many dishonest politicians have disenchanted members of the community with false promises. Preserve respect for the program. Don't make promises!
14. Medo will organise trips out of Soloy to help the volunteer gain a better understanding of the Ngöbe community as well as learn about other projects and organisations that aim to promote the development of the Ngöbe Bugle.
15. In order to maintain the community's respect for the program, the participants should not discuss project plans and other nonpublic information with members of the community. We want to continue to fulfill every expectation the community has for Medo.
16. At the end of his/her stay the volunteer will prepare a final report discussing the activities carried out during his/her stay as well as suggestions for future improvements.
We hope you will find these guidelines useful. As always, ask the coordinator if you have any questions or concerns.