Volunteers Around the World (VAW) was founded by Mark and Rebecca Stanley in 2006. Mark and Becky met in Peru, where they were both working for an NGO. They had always wanted to start a volunteer organization after their work in Peru. Later, while trekking throughout Central and South America, they came across Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and knew they had found the place where they wanted to start their project. They were inspired by the beauty of the lake and the people who lived in the surrounding communities. They also saw that there is a great deal of need in the area so they began their organization in San Pedro la Laguna along with a local NGO named Amí San Lucas.
In 2006, VAW began bringing individual volunteers to work with their partner NGO, Amí San Lucas, directed by Dr. Israel Hernandez, in San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala. In 2009, VAW worked with their first ever team of volunteers: seven individuals from the University of California, Berkeley who were interested in building water filters and finding out more about the public health issues in the area. In 2010, VAW officially began their Nutritional Security Project, building gardens in the Lake Atitlan area, and continuing with the Water Filters Project. That year, VAW brought eight individuals who built garden boxes and installed water filters.
In 2011, VAW brought their first Medical Outreach team to Guatemala. That year, 15 UC Berkeley students set up and ran mobile medical clinics along with Dr. Israel Hernandez, where they were able to treat over 500 patients. In 2013, VAW expanded to Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. They brought 136 volunteers to Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. They were able to treat over 9,000 patients total: 3,000 in Guatemala and about 6,000 in the Dominican Republic. Also in 2013, the first Dental Outreach from USC took place in Guatemala. Students partnered to work with local dentists to perform extractions in the mobile medical clinics.
In 2014, VAW opened a site in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Over 250 volunteers traveled to Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Panama. We treated over 15,000 patients and distributed over $30,000 worth of medications to those in need. VAW also launched the Dental Outreach program with full-service dental clinics in the Dominican Republic where patients could receive dental care for any ailment. The Hospital Internship Program in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic also received its first team of volunteers.
In 2015, over 490 volunteers traveled with VAW to our new sites in Cusco, Peru and Pampanga, Philippines, in addition to our existing sites. We were able to serve over 20,000 patients and bring over $50,000 worth of medications to our communities. In 2016, over 700 volunteers traveled with Volunteers Around the World to our five sites. During the year, VAW opened a new Medical Outreach site in Berat, Albania and a new Dental Outreach site in Cusco, Peru. We were able to serve over 30,000 patients and bring over $75,000 worth of medications to our communities.
In 2017, Volunteers Around the World hopes to open a new Medical Outreach site in Southeast Asia. We constantly strive to broaden our impact, improve our services and strengthen our partnerships. Our dedicated team of volunteers and staff helps VAW become a better organization and continue to make a positive impact on the world every day. We continue to bring medical care, dental care and health education to impoverished communities around the world. We also give students the opportunity to work closely with professionals to develop their skills and see what a great experience it is to work abroad and help those in need.
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