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Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama is dedicated to empowering individuals worldwide through the encouragement of self-exploration through social entrepreneurship, volunteerism, philanthropy and education as powerful forces for worldwide change. Be the change!

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UMMP has created a checklist to assist with your preparation for your volunteer time in Panama. To access, click below.

Volunteer Checklist

UMMP Video Introduction Check out our introduction to UMMP!

24 Hour Emergency Number

In case of emergency, we do have a 24 hour number you can call to reach us: +507-6630-3769. ** Before your trip, please be sure to note the international prefix needed to make the call from your home country, your stopover countries, and the country you will be volunteering in. If an emergency does arise, you’ll be glad you did! You can find a list of international prefixes at http://www.kropla.com/dialcode.htm.

Prior to Arriving

Emergency Contact/Arrival and Departure Details
We require all volunteers to provide us with arrival/departure details, emergency contact information and information related to your medical history (relevant to this trip) so UMMP staff can be well informed and prepared in an emergency. It is essential to have this information as you may be in a situation where you cannot speak for yourself. You will be requested to provide the following:

  • Your arrival & departure details: flight dates, times, airline, flight numbers or overland details if applicable.
  • An emergency contact person at home, phone number & email address for them.
  • Your insurance carrier while traveling, whether the free travel insurance card or your personal provider to be given to medical personnel in the event you are unable to.
  • Allergy information (to medication particularly)
  • Medication you plan to be taking while traveling
  • Any special dietary requirements (i.e. vegetarian)
You will be asked to fill this out one month before you start the program. This information is submitted online using the Extra Details Form.

Police Check

As the volunteer work in Panama involves working closely with children and other vulnerable individuals, volunteers need to provide a police clearance document before volunteering commences. To obtain a police clearance you will need to contact your local police station to find out what their procedure is. Normally, you will be asked to complete an application form authorizing the check to be done, pay a fee and a few weeks later the check will arrive in the mail. Sometimes a letter requesting the police clearance needs to accompany your application form, if this is required please contact your UMMP Volunteer Coordinator.

There are different types of police clearance but at minimum the check must include your full name and date of birth. Note, minor offenses such as traffic infringements will not be taken into account.

If you come from a country that does not issue police clearances for volunteer work, three character references from reputable sources (employer, landlord, the minister of your local church, teacher, etc.) may be substituted. Your character referees should know you well enough to vouch for your character. Please ask them to write a letter stating who they are, how they know you, give a description of your character and how well you get along with those around you, and to judge your suitability to work in the volunteer program.

The police clearance or letters of reference need to be scanned and emailed to your UMMP Volunteer Coordinator at least 4 weeks prior to your start date in Panama. For more information for North American Citizens visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1201.html You will also need to take the original copy with you to present to program staff during the Orientation period in Panama. Failure to provide a police clearance or character references may result in you not being able to volunteer in the program in Panama.

If you have any queries you would like to discuss about the information provided here please contact your UMMP Volunteer Coordinator.

Immunizations

Always consult a doctor before going ahead with any vaccinations, particularly if you are pregnant or have allergies. Also please note that immunizations are a personal choice and are not required by UMMP. Your travel doctor will always suggest any possible vaccinations, and we promote our volunteers do to the research on the suggested vaccinations before taking them. Some of the following vaccinations you may have had as a child and others may not be necessary depending on the country you are from so check this list out with your doctor. It is important if you decide to go ahead with them, to get them as soon as possible as some injections need to be done with a certain amount of time prior to leaving home. Other vaccinations cannot always be given together. Although there are no legally required vaccinations to enter Panama, your medical doctor may suggest:

  Legally Required: None Strongly Recommended: Diptheria / Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid Recommended: Rabies, Tuberculosis, Measles, *Malaria

*Malaria - only if traveling to risk areas, including Bocas Del Toro, Darién & San Blas Islands. No risk in Panama City or in the former Canal Zone.

Legally required: you will require evidence of having these vaccinations, and may be requested to show this on arrival.

Strongly recommended: these should be considered essential for your travel. Recommended: these are necessary for long term volunteers and strongly recommended if you are considering independent travel within the country.

Please also consider that there may be some vaccinations on this list that may be strongly recommended by your own doctor. Medical advice of a doctor should be adhered to. There may also be epidemic outbreaks of some listed diseases which should be considered when traveling that we may not be aware of.

Rabies vaccination is only recommended for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. These travelers include wildlife professionals, researchers, veterinarians, or adventure travelers visiting areas where bats, carnivores, and other mammals are commonly found. http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/panama.aspx

Malaria

Please note malaria is not present in Boquete or David, but it is something to consider if you plan on traveling through other areas of Panama.

Spread by mosquitoes, this disease can be fatal if not diagnosed quickly. Anti malarial medications can assist in attacking the disease, but these need to be chosen appropriately. Chloroquine, one drug that was once used worldwide, is not effective in some areas against malaria, so please seek the advice of a physician for an anti malarial that will protect you. You may have a medical condition that prevents you from the use of one form of anti malarial that will need to be considered by your own doctor.

There are several anti malarial drugs on the market. Some affect people quite differently and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Doxycyline and Malarone: considered good quality forms of anti malarial. Lariam (or Mefloquine): also effective but should be trialled by the user as it has been reported as causing significant mood changes, as well as sleep disturbances and abnormal dreams.

Whichever form of anti malarial you choose (if you choose to do so at all), it is essential that you know how and when to take it as it will only provide protection if used correctly. Make sure that you allow enough time prior to your travel to obtain medication and begin to medicate yourself.

Malaria can be in your system for some time before you show signs of illness. Regardless of where you are, in-country or back home, you should seek medical attention if you show any signs of flu-like symptoms or fevers within a year of travel. Alert the medical practitioner to the fact that you have been traveling in a malaria infected country and let them know what medication you were taking.

Additional measures you can take to protect yourself:

You are most at risk at dusk or twilight when mosquitoes begin their day. Using mosquito nets is recommended. Soaking or spraying nets with appropriate insecticides or pyrethrum for additional protection is ideal. Nets need to be cared for. Mosquitoes are capable of eating through nets, so holes need to be mended. Nets should be hung so that no part of the net touches your skin, as bites will still occur through a net if it is resting on you. Edges should be tucked under the bed so that mosquitoes cannot crawl up under the net. You should also check each day before use that no mosquito has entered the net.

Spraying the room or using a plug in insecticide during the day will help eliminate any stray mosquitoes that may have entered the room.

Wearing long trousers and long sleeved clothing may not be practical with regards to the temperatures; however, they will aid in protecting your body from bites and should be worn after dark. Light colors are also less likely to attract mosquitoes.

Insect repellent containing DEET is most effective; the higher the level of DEET, the more protection you will receive. Lemon has also been known to act as a natural repellent, so you may like to seek assistance from a natural health store as an alternative. For malaria, be sure that you have enough medication for the entire time you are travelling, as it is not recommended to switch medications during usage. Some anti malarial drugs are unavailable in some countries.