RJI starts communicating with volunteers long before they arrive in the country to work. RJI asks volunteers to provide medical information such as dietary restrictions, allergies, needed medication, and emergency contacts. Volunteers also receive a list of suggested items to pack such as mosquito nets, eating utensils, insect repellent, a sleeping bag, etc. RJI officials contact a group’s designated leader and speak to entire groups via Skype or chat to answer volunteers’ questions before a trip.
RJI has well-established relationships with organizations and governments in the countries where it sends volunteers. Many of the work sites are in communities where RJI volunteers have worked on numerous projects during the organization’s 25-year history.
Before each trip, RJI officials collaborate with their partners in the destination country to establish safety protocols and logistics for volunteers. For example, they locate work sites close to medical facilities, ensure group leaders have transportation for emergencies, and draft evacuation plans. If necessary, officials check in with local police to let them know volunteers will be in the area to work.
There are two group leaders: one bilingual staff member trained by RJI, and one representative from the visiting organization. For all volunteer groups, an RJI-trained group leader greets them at the airport and takes them to the community where they will work. RJI’s group leader stays with the volunteers for the duration of their trip. RJI also provides cell phones with international calling to both group leaders so they can communicate with each other, and for use in case of emergencies.