Humanitarian Social Innovations is pleased to welcome VAW Global Health Alliance to our community of social entrepreneurs.
Clean water, safe medical treatment and health education are just a few of the vitally important resources that many communities around the world now have access to, thanks to VAW Global Health Alliance.
The organization, formerly known as Volunteers Around the World (VAW), aims to build partnerships between local communities and health professionals in order to provide underserved areas with basic health needs. It started with Mark and Rebecca Stanley, who met while working for a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Peru.
“We always had a dream of starting a project of our own. Over the years, we came into contact with many organizations that either had great ideas and no money, or had money and lacked a local perspective that made their projects sustainable,” they said. “We wanted to create a way for people and entities with money to connect with local professionals who understand how to have a real impact on the ground.”
Mark and Rebecca partnered with Dr. Israel Hernandez of Ami San Lucas, and together they built Volunteers Around the World in 2006. In addition to providing communities with access to basic resources, the organization offers students opportunities to learn and gain international experience with hands-on work.
“Health Care is a challenge in all parts of the world, and we are creating solutions,” they said. “We are raising funding for local professionals who have proven ideas for successful growth, while at the same time offering professional development experiences to students from the United States. Cultural exchange enhances feelings of global community, mutual respect and international collaboration.”
Making a Critical Impact
The organization has grown rapidly since its inception. Today, it has locations in six countries: Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Peru and Vietnam. The work of the group and its volunteers has greatly improved the quality of life of many people in these areas by providing critical medical attention, resources and education. VAW Global Health Alliance shared one inspiring story of its impact:
“An eight-year-old girl in Peru came to our clinic with a badly twisted arm. We learned that she had fallen outdoors when she was five and had broken her arm. The arm was never properly set or treated, and over time it ‘healed’ in the badly twisted angle we were seeing. Through collaboration with the local hospital and a specialist from Lima that flew out to Cusco for the surgery, we were able to surgically repair her arm. After six months of post-surgery rehabilitation, it was like the injury had never happened! We have several stories like this one, showing how finding the funding and connecting the right people makes a huge impact on one person at a time.”
Continuing to Grow
At the start of 2020, the organization decided to mark its growth by changing its name from Volunteers Around the World to VAW Global Health Alliance. Its website explains the reasoning behind the shift: “In 2019, it became apparent that Volunteers Around the World (VAW) was no longer a volunteer organization, but rather an alliance built on partnerships. It came time to update our name to be more representative of who we are as an organization.”
Looking forward, VAW Global Health Alliance aims to partner with universities in the United States as well as local governments at their site locations to offer accredited internships to both American and local students.
“The best way to ensure sustainable solutions in a community is to support and build upon the existing infrastructure through local capacity-building. We hope that being able to train and connect community members alongside U.S. students with new partners can expand perspectives through unique collaboration and ensure sustainable progress in hard-to-access areas,” VAW Global Health Alliance said.
VAW Global Health Alliance relies on volunteers and donations to continue providing resources and assistance to communities in need. To contribute to their mission, click the donation button below.