In 2019, it became apparent that Volunteers Around the World (VAW) was no longer a volunteer organization, but rather an alliance built on partnerships. For more than a decade we had focused on building partnerships with amazing community leaders, and professionals in the countries where we operate. We have participated in providing opportunities in education, business, and personal growth for many of our staff and also young people in our host countries. It came time to update our name to be more representative of who we are as an organization. We changed our name to VAW Global Health Alliance in January 2020. As an organization, we are always looking for ways to do things better, to evolve, and to provide the best patient care possible. Our goals are to create opportunities for young people in all the countries we touch; provide fair, quality, and equitable employment to women; and to give the best care possible to our patients. Our name has changed, yet we have also not forgotten where we came from. Below is our history:
Volunteers Around the World (VAW) was founded by Mark and Rebecca Stanley in 2006. Mark and Becky met in Peru, where they were both working for an NGO. They had always wanted to start an organization after their work in Peru. Later, while trekking throughout Central and South America, they came across Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and knew they had found the place where they wanted to start their project. They were inspired by the beauty of the lake and the people who lived in the surrounding communities. They also met Dr. Israel Hernandez who operated an NGO called Amí San Lucas in the region, and knew they had found a partner with whom they could collaborate on long term development projects.
In 2006, Volunteers Around the World (VAW) in cooperation with AMI San Lucas began bringing individual volunteers to work in San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala. In 2009, VAW worked with their first ever team of Global Health volunteers: seven individuals from the University of California, Berkeley who were interested in building water filters and finding out more about the public health issues in the area. In 2010, VAW officially began their Nutritional Security Project, building gardens in the Lake Atitlan area, and continuing with the Water Filters Project. That year, VAW brought eight volunteers to work with AMI San Lucas to build garden boxes and installed water filters.
In 2011, VAW brought their first Medical Outreach team to Guatemala. That year, 15 UC Berkeley students set up and ran mobile medical clinics along with Dr. Israel Hernandez, from AMI San Lucas, where they were able to treat over 500 patients. In 2013, VAW expanded Medical Outreach operations to Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. They brought a combined 136 volunteers to Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. They were able to treat over 9,000 patients total: 3,000 in Guatemala and about 6,000 in the Dominican Republic. Also in 2013, the first Dental Outreach from USC took place in Guatemala. Students shadowed a local dentists who perform extractions in the mobile medical clinics.
In 2014, VAW opened a site in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Over 250 volunteers traveled to Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Panama. We treated over 15,000 patients and distributed over $30,000 worth of medications. VAW also launched the Dental Outreach program with full-service dental clinics in the Dominican Republic where patients could receive dental care for any ailment. The Hospital Internship Program in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic also received its first team of volunteers.
In 2015, over 490 volunteers traveled with VAW to our new sites in Cusco, Peru and Pampanga, Philippines, in addition to our existing sites. We were able to serve over 20,000 patients and bring over $50,000 worth of medications to our communities. In 2016, over 700 volunteers traveled with Volunteers Around the World to our five sites. During the year, VAW opened a new Medical Outreach site in Berat, Albania and a new Dental Outreach site in Cusco, Peru. We were able to serve over 30,000 patients and bring over $75,000 worth of medications to our communities.
By 2017, Volunteers Around the World had opened additional medical sites in Siem Reap, Cambodia and Can Tho, Vietnam, and we were operating dental sites in Peru, Dominican Republic, and Guatemala. In 2018, we opened a Veterinary Outreach in Cusco, Peru.
We changed our name to VAW Global Health Alliance in January 2020. but our values have remained consistent. We constantly strive to broaden our impact, improve our services and strengthen our partnerships. Our dedicated team of interns and staff help VAW Global become a better organization and continue to make a positive impact on the world every day. We continue to bring medical care, dental care and health education to communities around the world. We also give students the opportunity to work closely with professionals to develop their skills. VAW Global is about building relationships that create opportunities for young people and equitable access to health care for people all around the world.
Partnerships and Internships for Better Health.