Posted on 29 May, 2018

The Open Heart International (OHI) team participating in the India 2018 mission to Ahmedabad is now on the ground, and Sunday (May 27) was the first day of work at the U.N. Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre (UNMICRC).


But… have you ever thought about all the work that goes into making such a trip happen? How does such a project come to be? Who worked on what before we all got here? Well… a LOT of behind-the-scenes coordination and cooperation must be done, at the OHI headquarters in Sydney, at the host institution (this time the UNMICRC) as well as at embassies and boards in various places around the world.

It all starts with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between OHI and the host institution. From there, the team of volunteers needs to be assembled – which is no small task, considering that the volunteers who participate in these trips are donating their skill and time, are using their personal leave days, and personally contribute to the cost of the trip as well as the overhead associated with it.

Once the team is in place, OHI organizes the volunteers flights, travel and medical insurance, and accommodation through appropraite avenues. Some of the volunteers connect these trips to conferences they attend, or to a few days of holiday, so there is a multitude of needs and requests handled by the OHI staff… (thanks Megan and colleagues!)

In particular, the process of getting visas or registration in any country can be challenging. As medical volunteers, we sometimes do not enter as tourists. Therefore, depending on the country we must apply for different types of visas, registrations etc and follow the certain protocol and paperwork process to be allowed to travel. For India, our medical staff had to get approval from both the medical and nursing boards in India, certifying that they are qualified to come do the work. There was quite a lot of paperwork that went into that! Myself included, the media liaison had to get a filming purpose visa not dissimilar to the one that you would file for if you were to come film a feature film in India. This included filing a synopsis, crew and equipment lists, etc. as well as the commitment to portray India in a positive light in which we mostly certainly have come here to do. You get the picture: it’s not easy!

For the trips to India, it has been invaluable to have the support of the staff at VFS Global to help get all this paperwork done and to get the visasbefore the trip. A big thank you goes out to them!


Tags:  india,