Q. How are expeditioners selected?
A. Expeditioners will be selected based on registration order and responses provided in the application in order to fill the needs of the expedition.
Q. What do participants do during an expedition?
A. Typically, the expedition will comprise building projects (e.g., construction of a school, school kitchen, community water system); workshops (e.g., rural health promoter, mid-wife and local dentist training, teacher development, business development); and clinics (medical and/or dental, also used as real-time training opportunity for locals). You will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of ways, depending on your skill set.
Q. What if I don't have any medical/dental/business/construction skills? Can I still be of use on a Singular Humanitarian expedition?
A. Yes. No matter what your skill set is, Singular Humanitarian needs you. The expedition will comprise a number of projects and workshops that will provide many varied opportunities for you to serve. The most important thing is that you be physically fit and friendly. Instructions will be given on each phase of projects and necessary skills will be taught.
Q. I don't speak Spanish/Q'eqchi'/Nepalese/Swahili. How will I communicate once I arrive in Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal or Kenya?
A. CHOICE Humanitarian will provide interpreters in Guatemala, Mexico and Kenya where necessary, to facilitate communication between expedition participants and the individuals with whom we will be working. Familiarizing yourself with simple Spanish/Q’eqchi’/Nepalese/Swahili phrases prior to the expedition is encouraged.
Q. What is a typical day like on an expedition?
A. To see what a typical day is like on an exhibition, visit our Videos page.
Q. I've never been to a third world country before. What should I expect?
A. If you’ve never traveled to a third world country before, the contrasts between what you may be accustomed to and what you will experience may be substantial. CHOICE Humanitarian facilitates expeditions in rural villages; their expeditions are not tourist vacations. You should be physically and mentally prepared to face frustrating and disquieting circumstances while traveling, working, and living in impoverished, primitive areas. Village access is often along bumpy roads and sometimes requires a short hike. Permanent bathroom facilities and/or heating may or may not be available. CHOICE expeditions are conducted under every condition imaginable, from sleeping in tents to living in mud and thatch huts. As a rule, conditions are modest and the food simple but plentiful.
Water in third-world countries in not safe to drink unless it has been purified. Bottled water is usually available in cities, and hotels often purify their entire water systems, but it is always important to ask before drinking or brushing your teeth. Do not brush your teeth from a tap unless you have verified that the water is purified. Also make sure that any ice served to you has been purified.
The in-country director (ICD) will make sure that there is plenty of purified water available for you in the village. The people cooking for the expedition adhere to the sanitary standards required by our delicate systems.
Q. Are the areas we are traveling to safe?
A. Safety is always a concern when traveling and living in third world countries. Third world conditions may result in circumstances beyond the control of CHOICE Humanitarian and Singular Humanitarian.
CHOICE Humanitarian has been operating successfully in Guatemala, Nepal and Kenya for many years and is familiar with the areas to which we will be traveling. Be assured that your safety and security are a priority to them. In addition to following any instructions your expedition leader gives you, you should remember to avoid walking, traveling, or being out after dark in urban or rural areas. If travel is necessary, do not go alone. Also, when in city areas, be sure to keep a very close watch on all of your belongings. CHOICE recommends that expedition participants help protect themselves from being targeted by thieves by not packing or wearing nice jewelry or expensive-looking watches.
Q. What will I eat during an expedition? What if I have special dietary restrictions/needs?
A. During an expedition, you will be provided three meals a day. Meals will comprise foods typically consumed in the region.
When you register for the expedition, you will be required to complete a medical information form. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate this on the form. Additionally, we recommend that you contact CHOICE directly to find out if your specific dietary needs can be met. Please note: Because of the rugged nature of the expedition and the absence of medical facilities at the project site, there are some restrictions regarding who may participate. You should not consider participating in an expedition if you are an insulin-dependent diabetic, if you have compromised cardiovascular or pulmonary capacities, or if you have other significant physical or mental restrictions.
Q. How many other participants will there be? What is the gender, age, and geographical breakdown?
A. Most expeditions accommodate 40 people each. We will strive to have a 1:1 ratio of men to women for all expeditions. Most participants will range in age from 25 to 40. Although a majority of participants will be from the United States, we anticipate there being a number from other areas as well, including Europe.
For those married or under the age of 18, Singular Humanitarian has a sister organization called Family Humanitarian experience (FHe). The expeditions follow the same model as Singular Humanitarian, but will cater to the needs of families. For more information, please visit their website at www.familyhumanitarian.org.
Q. Do I need a passport?
A. Guatemala: If you are a U.S. citizen, you will need a passport to enter and exit Guatemala; a driver’s license or birth certificate is not sufficient. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of proposed entry into Guatemala. Check your passport’s expiration date ASAP. It needs to expire AFTER January 28, 2016, in order to be valid for travel to Guatemala.
A. Mexico: If you are a U.S. citizen, you will need a passport to enter and exit Mexico; a driver’s license or birth certificate is not sufficient. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of proposed entry into Mexico. Check your passport’s expiration date ASAP. It needs to expire AFTER June 26, 2016, in order to be valid for travel to Mexico.
Nepal: A valid international passport is required for all volunteers traveling to Nepal. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your international return airline ticket. Passports should contain sufficient blank pages for visas and immigration stamps.*
Kenya: A valid international passport is required for all volunteers traveling to Kenya. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your international return airline ticket. Passports should contain sufficient blank pages for visas and immigration stamps.*
*If you need to apply for or renew your U.S. passport, do so as soon as possible; the process can take up to three months.
****If you hold citizenship in a country other than the United States, please research passport requirements for travel to Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal or Kenya through your foreign ministry.
Need a U.S. passport?
Follow this link:
Please review the U.S. State Department’s web pages on Guatemala, Nepal, and Kenya for further details:
According to the State Department: “Processing times can vary depending on workload and occasional unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters. During busier times, such as the summer travel season, we encourage customers to expedite their applications if traveling in less than 10 weeks. See Application Processing Times for more information.”
Q. Do I need a visa?
A. Guatemala: If you are U.S. citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Guatemala.
Mexico: If you are U.S. citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Mexico.
Nepal: A travel visa is required for U.S. citizens visiting Nepal and can be obtained at then entry point or the Nepalese Embassy. Please note the following requirements:
• $25.00 (15 day multiple entry) or $40.00 (30 day multiple entry) or $100.00 (90 days multiple entry) in cash
Travelers may obtain the latest information on visas as well as any additional details regarding entry requirements from the Embassy of Nepal http://nepalembassyusa.org/
Kenya: A travel visa is required for U.S. citizens visiting Kenya and can be obtained upon arrival to the international airport. Please note the following requirements:
• $50.00 or $100.00 in cash (depending on single entry vs. multiple entry)
• 2 passport photos
• proof of return international airline ticket
Travelers may obtain the latest information on visas as well as any additional details regarding entry requirements from the Embassy of Kenya, http://kenyaembassy.com/
If you hold citizenship in a country other than the United States, please check with your foreign ministry for visa requirements for travel to Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal or Kenya.
Q. Are there any special fees I need to know about?
A. Guatemala: Upon exiting Guatemala you will have to pay a $30 customs fee. This fee is charged to all visitors exiting the country. Please budget accordingly.
Nepal: Upon exiting Nepal, all foreigners must pay an airport exit tax (~$20-$25) Please budget accordingly.
Kenya: In most cases, international airline tickets include other arrival taxes and fees for Kenya. However, please consult with the airline and/or your travel agent to be sure. These charges are subject to change.
Upon departure from Kenya, a required airport tax could be charged: ~$40.00 (cash) per person. However, some international airline tickets include these taxes, so please consult with the airline and/or your travel agent to be sure. These charges are subject to change.
Q. Are vaccinations required for these trips?
A. We strongly recommend that you visit your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before traveling to assure that you are up to date on all routine immunizations and to allow time for any necessary shots to take effect. If it is less than four weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. It might not be too late to get your shots or medications as well as other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.
CHOICE Humanitarian recommends that all volunteers be up to date on routine vaccinations (MMR, DPT, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid). CHOICE suggests that each volunteer consult with an international travel clinic for professional medical advice regarding travel vaccines and immunizations. For the most benefit, please see a health care provider at least 4–6 weeks prior to departure for vaccines to take full effect.
Please refer to the Center for Disease Control for the latest information and suggested vaccinations
Q. How is the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) involved in these projects?
A. Although neither Singular Humanitarian nor CHOICE is an LDS Church-sponsored organization, we anticipate that expedition participants will be predominantly LDS (www.lds.org and www.mormon.org). We expect participants to adhere to LDS standards while on the expedition and optional LDS church services will be offered as part of the expedition experience.
Q. I'm not LDS; will I be comfortable on this trip?
A. Both CHOICE Humanitarian and Singular Humanitarian are non-denominational, non-political organizations. Although it is anticipated that a large number of expedition participants will be LDS*, participants are not allowed to distribute religious materials or impose their religious beliefs on others. Participants are welcome to observe their own religious practices as long as they do so on their own time, in as much privacy as possible, and without excluding other participants. All are encouraged to participate in the villagers’ religious activities: it is a unique opportunity for a cultural exchange that may be available only once in a lifetime.
*LDS church services will be offered as an optional part of the expedition experience.
Q. I know most of the expedition participants are LDS; do you preach to the villagers during your expeditions?
A. No. Neither CHOICE Humanitarian nor Singular Humanitarian has a religious affiliation, and participants are not allowed to preach or proselytize.
Q. Does Singular Humanitarian have a code of conduct participants adhere to during expeditions?
A. Singular Humanitarian defers to CHOICE’s standards of personal conduct:
“All participants are considered ambassadors for our country, humanitarians in general, and CHOICE Humanitarian. There is a high expectation for participants to respect the reputation of trust and consideration that has been established through years of interaction with villagers and in-country directors. All participants will be expected to maintain high standards of conduct as well as honor, morality, respect, graciousness, etc. while in the villages and in the countries where we serve. CHOICE Humanitarian has a strict “NO GIFTING” policy. Our gift to them is the project; their gift to us is their hospitality. Participants will be expected to abstain from tobacco, narcotics, non-prescription drugs, and alcohol intoxication. CHOICE Humanitarian reserves the right to terminate a participant’s involvement, without reimbursement, at any point of the expedition if there is failure to comply with these conditions.”
Q. I want to do everything I can to prepare mentally and physically for the expedition. What do you suggest?
A. To prepare mentally:
Remember that CHOICE expeditions are not tourist vacations; they can be dirty and uncomfortable. Be prepared to face disquieting circumstances while traveling, working, and living in impoverished, primitive areas. Expect the unexpected, be flexible and patient, and keep a sense of humor.
We encourage you to read about the areas to which we will be traveling. Familiarize yourself with the history, customs, traditions, and language of the people. Recognize that contrasts between what you may be accustomed to and what you will experience may be substantial. Take time to learn about people-centered development.
CHOICE Humanitarian recommends the following books:
Go the People by James B. Mayfield (available through CHOICE)
Where There Is No Doctor by David Werner (available through CHOICE)
Getting to the 21st Century by David C. Korten
Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen
Despite Good Intentions by Thomas W. Dichter
The End of Poverty by Jeffrey D. Sachs
Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin
A travel guide such as Fodor’s Guide, Lonely Planet, or The Rough Guide, which are available for all countries
The following books are fiction and are good for adults and children:
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
To prepare physically:
Travel outside of your usual environment means contact with microorganisms that are unfamiliar to your immune system. A strong, healthy, and fit body responds to this type of stress successfully. In addition to aerobic fitness, a healthy diet will help you prepare for a safe and enjoyable trip. Just prior to an expedition is not the time to go on a weight-reduction diet. On departure you want to have a well-nourished and well-hydrated body.
Although a physical exam is not usually required before an expedition, it is a good idea. CHOICE requires that you complete a health statement on your application and provide your doctor as a reference to verify your health. The expedition leader needs to know of any allergies or previous illnesses that might affect your participation. Completion of needed dental work before departure is also advised.
Q. How should I dress during an expedition?
A. Expedition participants are required to adhere as closely as possible to country-specific dress codes in order to not offend the villagers, who typically follow a more conservative dress standard. Nearly all villages require long pants or a skirt for women. Shorts are acceptable for tourist areas, but keep in mind that they do brand you as a tourist. Tank tops are allowed only if the local women are wearing them.
We recommend that participants traveling to Guatemala, Nepal or Kenya bring quick-drying/Dri-FIT clothing, which is comfortable to wear in the warm, humid climate and dries more quickly than cotton. Also, when traveling to Kenya, it is customary for women to wear skirts while in the villages. You can bring skirts that cover your knees, but the ICD may also take you to a local shop to get fabric for traditional wrap skirts.
Q. I would like to collect supplies to bring. How shall I proceed?
A. Please read the policy below, from the CHOICE-Singular Humanitarian manual:
Supplies must be requested by the villagers
We cannot bring supplies that the villagers have not requested through the In-country Director (ICD) or other village authority. This includes clothing, amongst other items. Any requested supplies must be routed through the ICD or other village authority. Items that have not been requested MUST NOT BE TAKEN.
We are trying to promote self-sustainability for the villagers, not introduce them to the vast world of things they don’t have and don’t need.
What can we take?
Once we have determined with the ICD what the most appropriate supplies will be for our expedition, we will communicate this information to expedition volunteers.
All supplies will be distributed by the CHOICE Humanitarian ICD. Please remember that collecting supplies is not required, but your efforts will be warmly received by the villagers.
Q. If an individual or a company would like to make a donation on my behalf, how can they do so?
A. Please click on the “Donate” link above for more information.
Q. Will there be opportunities to travel before or after the official expedition?
A. Expedition participants are free to organize their own pre or post trip travel, but they must attend orientation the first day of the expedition and depart from the village the final day of the expedition.
Q. Where does my expedition fee go?
A. Approximately 45 percent of each participant’s expedition fee is used to directly support the expedition projects. The other 55 percent covers the in-country expenses for each participant, including ground transportation, lodging, food, and security.
Q. Is Singular Humanitarian a volunteer organization?
A. Yes, Singular Humanitarian is a 100% volunteer-run organization. Everyone who works for Singular Humanitarian (including the executive and steering committees) does so on a volunteer basis.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com. We will either answer your question or direct you to the person with whom you need to communicate.