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Volunteer: FAQ

What experience or qualifications are required for participation in this program?

Volunteers are required to have some massage or bodywork experience in an educational or professional setting, though they need not have completed a certification program. No other experience or qualifications are required. This program includes an orientation in which volunteers learn to do basic gentle massage effectively and safely with children.

Is there a risk to volunteers of transmission of HIV during massage activities?

In the entire history of the epidemic, there is no case in which HIV was transmitted through massage. When giving massage to a person with HIV, there is normally no risk of HIV transmission because HIV cannot be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

In the context of this volunteer program, there would only be a risk of transmission during massage if blood were present outside the body of a person with HIV, such as at the site of a wound. That blood could only cause HIV infection if it came into contact with the massage provider's mucuous membranes (nostril, ear, lip, eyelid, etc) or a break in their skin. In the unlikely event of such contact, the risk of transmission is extremely low.

Volunteers receive training in simple steps they can take to minimize the risk of contact with blood, in case it is present during massage activities. The children we work with usually don't have unhealed wounds where blood is present.

What is the total cost to join this volunteer program?

The total cost to join the program differs from one volunteer to the next. It varies with the cost of the flights and lodging you choose, the number of weeks you join the program, whether you request financial aid, and other factors. If you choose to fundraise, most of your expenses can be covered by the donations you bring in. Use the Fundraising Goal Calculator to find out how much you'll need to raise. If you prefer to pay all costs out of pocket, use the Budget Calculator. See the Costs page of this website for more information.

What kinds of massage can volunteers practice during this program?

This program is flexible about the range of massage and bodywork styles and techniques volunteers can practice. Generally speaking, volunteers may practice styles and techniques of massage and bodywork that are appropriate for the person to whom they're providing care and the environment and culture in which we work. If you have a question about whether a specific style, form or technique would be appropriate, please contact us.

Is it possible to join the program on dates other than those listed on the calendar?

Program dates are added to the calendar about one year in advance. Please check the calendar every few months to see new dates. If you wish to request a program for a group or organization for dates other than those listed on the calendar, please contact us.

Can I practice or teach therapy, counseling, or personal growth/healing/wellness practices other than massage and bodywork during this program?

Since massage activities are central to the program, it is important that volunteers be interested in spending the majority of their service work time participating in such activities. Generally speaking, this program is not able to accommodate people who wish to practice therapy or counseling. Please contact us if you wish to practice or teach something other than massage and bodywork during this program and want to know whether it would be a good fit.

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