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Safety

Safety on Me to We trips

Our Top Priority

Our volunteer trips are life-changing experiences that allow participants to volunteer abroad and immerse themselves in local culture. But for our team at Me to We, safety is our first and most important priority. As any Me to We employee will tell you, for us safety is number one and everything else comes second.

Me to We has been facilitating volunteer trips overseas since 2002. Since then, we have taken more than 6,500 youth to Ecuador, Kenya, China, India, Ghana, Nicaragua and Arizona without incident. We’ve worked with partners for whom safety is paramount, who have evaluated our extensive risk management procedures. These partners include:

  • Oprah’s Angel Network
  • YPO (Young Presidents Organization)
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board
  • EF Educational Tours
  • Travel Cuts
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Toronto
  • Many other notable partners

At Me to We, we take serious measures and precautions to ensure all our participants are safe throughout their trip. From the moment your child or student approaches you about going on a Me to We trip, to the moment they return home, there are numerous proactive safety measures and protocols in place. For more detailed information on the extensive safety measures taken by Me to We, please refer to the links below:

Upon signing up for a Me to We trip, you and your child will be referred to the Trips Coordination Team. Well before your child departs on their exciting adventure abroad, you will work alongside a knowledgeable trip coordinator who will ensure that all of your questions and concerns are addressed. Me to We trip coordinators will help guide you from the initial idea of a trip, to feeling well-prepared and comfortable sending your child abroad with Me to We. They will:

  • Guide you through all the necessary paperwork
  • Confidentially gather your child’s medical information from their trip application, ensuring that the Associate Director of Risk Management and the Me to We Country Office are well-briefed on any specific medical needs your child has
  • Help you purchase a comprehensive insurance package for your child (if they don’t already have one), which includes trip cancellation, trip interruption and medical coverage
  • Guide you through the application process should your child require a visa for their trip
  • Register all participants with their respective embassy to ensure accountability in case of emergency
  • Guide you through the packing list, ensuring your child packs the necessary gear to keep them safe, happy and healthy during their trip (e.g. long pants, water bottle, sunscreen)
  • Conduct a pre-departure presentation, in person or via webinar
  • Have a candid conversation with your child regarding their upcoming trip that will:
    • Address any questions they may have
    • Go over the rules and expectations held for all of our trip participants
    • Speak to the highlights your child will experience on their trip and what they can look forward to
  • Recommend that your child visits a travel doctor to discuss any necessary vaccinations or medications they may need for their trip
  • Ensure that your child’s airport departure runs smoothly, and welcome your child upon their return home
  • If your child is traveling with a school or community group, the trip coordinator will book the group flights and monitor connecting flights, ensuring that everyone’s travel plans are well in place prior to departure
    • Once your child’s group arrives at the airport we will ensure (in conjunction with the school) that the airport check-in is as smooth as possible
Well before your child departs for their volunteer experience, Me to We staff who live and work full-time abroad take numerous precautionary measures to ensure your child is kept safe, happy and healthy throughout their entire experience. These precautionary measures include but are not limited to:

  • Our extensive facilitator training program, held twice a year, includes emergency evacuation protocols, standard operating procedures and crisis prevention/management training
  • Local hospitals with Western medical standards are aware of our trips and prepared to handle any minor or major medical situations.
  • Air evacuation is used for emergencies, where service is applicable and/or required
  • Copies of all passports, medical and travel insurance, emergency contact information, and dietary and medical requirements are collected at least 60 days prior to departure
  • Travel advisories for each country location Me to We operates in are monitored by international and country offices on a regular basis, as issued by:
    • The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
    • The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office
    • The United States Department of State
Throughout their entire experience abroad, your child will be accompanied by Me to We facilitators and a Me to We cultural guide. Safety measures employed by these staff members include, but are not limited to:

  • Upon arrival, your child will be met at the airport by Me to We staff members, regardless of whether they are travelling alone or with a group
  • All vehicles utilized for in-country transportation are owned and operated by either Me to We or a trusted transportation provider
    • All vehicles follow regular maintenance standards and have functioning seatbelts for every occupant
    • Where possible, transportation only happens by day, accompanied by our expert facilitators
  • Facilitators are accessible at all times using a variety of methods of communication and speak with the Country Director on a daily basis
  • All facilitators are trained in first aid, and carry a first-aid kit at all times
  • During project-building activities, all participants are given thorough instructions on the use of simple equipment and wear protective equipment including hard hats, safety goggles and gloves
  • All meals are prepared by Me to We trained cooks, who are knowledgeable of our food preparation standards, and use only filtered water in their preparation
    • The exception to this is when groups are in major urban centres such as Quito, Managua and Beijing—in these instances Me to We groups visit restaurants that maintain Western sanitation standards
  • Participants have access to filtered or bottled water at all times
Should your child require medical care for a minor health issue during their trip, Me to We employs an extensive communication protocol, designed to keep you up-to-date and in touch with treatment given to your child. Below is an example of how Me to We’s communication protocol is carried out:

During a soccer game, your child sprains their ankle. After a brief assessment, the facilitator sees that your child is in a lot of pain. Using their emergency cell phone, the facilitator calls the Country Director, who is the senior-most staff member in charge of all Me to We trips in that destination.
After obtaining all of the necessary information, the Country Director makes the decision to bring your child to a nearby medical clinic. The Country Director arranges to meet your child, their facilitator and the Me to We driver (who is driving an emergency “tail” vehicle) at the clinic. At no point is your child left alone. En-route, the Country Director calls the 24-hour emergency phone in Toronto to loop them in to the situation.
Upon receiving the Country Director’s phone call on the 24-hour emergency phone, the Associate Director of Risk Management records all details of the incident. They will then call you to inform you that your child is on their way to a clinic for a possible sprained ankle, accompanied by Me to We staff. Where appropriate, a phone call will be arranged between you and your child before they are seen by a physician. Where applicable, the Associate Director of Risk Management will then open an insurance claim on behalf of your child.
After being seen by the physician, the Country Director will call the Toronto 24-hour emergency phone with the diagnosis and plan of action (e.g. close monitoring, elevation, light activities on the build site).
The Associate Director of Risk Management will provide you with the physician’s diagnosis and plan of action. When possible (and if desired), additional phone calls will be arranged between you and your child.
If applicable, updates on your child’s ankle will be provided to you by the Associate Director of Risk Management.
Once your child returns home, you will be provided with the medical reports (if applicable) and the insurance claim number, opened on your child’s behalf.

Please note: a similar communication protocol will be employed should an emergency occur at home and you require immediate communication with your child.

If you would like to walk through how this communication protocol would change in the event of a more serious medical or political emergency, please feel free to contact one of our senior risk management team members, at 1.877.638.6931 x510.

A Family Decision

At Me to We, we understand that sending your child on a volunteer experience abroad is an important decision, often involving the entire family. Me to We understands that parents are the main decision makers and most important stakeholders in this process. After more than 10 years of sending young people on safe, life-changing volunteer experiences worldwide, we recognize that as parents you need certain information in order to make an informed decision. The links and FAQ’s below are aimed to help you navigate sections of our website most relevant to you, the parent.

Parent FAQ

Me to We volunteer trips are driven by the goal of creating systematic change—for participants and within the communities where they travel. Each trip is centred around volunteering, community-based learning, leadership and cultural immersion.Learn more
Safety and security is the number one priority for Me to We, and we go to great lengths to ensure safety measures are integrated into every aspect of our trips. Local hospitals with Western medical standards are aware of our trips and prepared to handle any minor or major medical situations. Additionally, hospitals used by Me to We are internationally-recognized, such as the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya and the GBH American Hospital in Rajasthan, India. All hospitals and clinics that we use typically include:

  • Western-trained doctors
  • Bilingual staff, who are able to communicate with Me to We staff and participants
  • Modern medical equipment, capable of handling all minor and major medical emergencies
  • Inbound-and-outbound air evacuation
  • Access to all modern prescription medications
Yes—Me to We offers transformative travel experiences for families, groups, individual adults or corporate teams to Kenya, India and Ecuador.

Learn more

Free The Children carries out international development work through a holistic and sustainable model called Adopt a Village. This model is supported by youth from around the world who fundraise to support these development initiatives, and the funds that are raised go towards creating sustainable education, health care, clean water and sanitation, alternative income and livelihood, and agriculture and food security projects within the communities where Free The Children has long-standing programs. As Free The Children’s partner organization, Me to We supports this model through trips where participants work on Free The Children projects. However, these trips are wholly operated by Me to We.

Learn more

We know that fundraising can be a daunting task—but it can be done! Me to We provides lots of ideas, tips and tricks to help you fundraise the cost of your trip.

Learn more

Yes—Me to We offers travel scholarships to help give young people without the financial means the chance to participate in a Me to We Trip. While it doesn’t cover the full cost, the scholarship helps support your fundraising efforts to go on a Me to We trip.

Learn more

“[Both of my children] have been on Me to We Trips to China, India, Kenya and Ecuador over the past four summers, and have successfully fundraised for 100% of each trip’s cost. I think the fundraising experience has helped them develop important character traits like perseverance, initiative, and commitment. They have learned to appreciate and get the most out of their volunteering experiences, and have proven their immense passion and commitment to student social activism.

Planning monthly events throughout the entire year was the key to [my children’s] fundraising success. They have used both traditional fundraising methods such as holding birthday and holiday potlucks, bake sales, silent auctions and soliciting corporate sponsors, as well as more creative ideas like reverse raffle draws and coin drives. In addition, the online fundraising page was a very convenient way of getting the word out to family and friends overseas through social media.

Fundraising was never a task undertaken by just the kids—it was definitely a team effort and encouraged family bonding. After our hard work of planning, organizing, and implementing their fundraising ideas, helping [my children] reach their goals was an incredibly rewarding experience.”

—Vicky Wong, parent of Me to We trip participants

Read an endorsement from Dr. Mark Wise, internationally recognized travel doctor and creator of The Travel Clinic.

Read more

 

Testimonials

“The number one concern of any parent on any overseas program is, ‘Will my child be safe?’ The standards of safety that Me to We subscribes to are the highest of any service program I am aware of.”

“For [my daughter and her friend], this was truly an adventure of a lifetime. They are both spectacular individuals. It’s not that they are changed—they are more ’enhanced.’ The good qualities and the profound values are accentuated and the goodness just radiates through. And the gratitude is boundless. This is what life is all about.”

Contact us

Questions?

Drop us a line at 1.877.638.6931 x510 to speak to a senior member of our trips team. Or, if you are looking to speak directly with a senior staff member, please call:

If you have not yet booked a trip:
Kathy Koch, Director of Youth Engagement
1.416.964.8942 x583

Janice Sousa, Executive Director, Trips
1.416.938.5896

If you have already booked a trip:
Julie Creen, Director, Risk Management
1.416.964.8942 x708

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