Volunteer with the Iraq Response Program
All volunteer positions in the Iraq Response Program are in-field. In the Kurdistan region of Iraq, we work closely with the Department of Health and other service providing organizations supporting refugees and internally displaced persons. Our focus is on capacity building through lactation training and support within camps outside of Dohuk. NPI teams provide this training to clinic staff, community workers, traditional birth attendants, and peer supporters so that they can continue to provide care within their own communities.
Some of NPI’s core activities will be based on the design of its successful interventions among refugee populations in Greece where NPI has deployed trained infant feeding specialist such as lactation consultants, peer supporters, health visitors, nurses, breastfeeding counselors, midwives, and infant feeding in emergency experts to provide lactation support to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
In Iraq, NPI plans to expand lactation services by training health workers and establishing a network of peer to peer support services personnel. Health worker training will consist of educational sessions as well as clinical hands-on training where relevant and include pre- and post-assessments to measure the success of the program. NPI will provide additional and continued mentorship to health care workers through continuing education and facilitating the delivery of community workshops by these health workers.
Community peer support workers will receive lactation support as well as antenatal education, followed by an assessment to ascertain their level of familiarity with the training material covered. Peer supporters will be mentored by NPI staff and volunteers to facilitate mother and baby groups within their community that offer safe spaces for sharing and support.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHO CAN APPLY?
Our organization accepts applications from women all over the world, aged 18 and over. Whilst English does not need to be your first language, basic English is necessary when working with us. We look for specific qualifications to support the needs of women on the ground, and have three tiers of volunteers.
The Iraq project accepts accredited mother-to-mother breastfeeding support counsellors, such as La Leche League Leaders, Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellors and other NPI approved certifications, lactation consultants (IBCLCs) or midwives with lactation experience. Both lactation volunteers and midwives must be certified and licensed to work in the country where they currently live. Due to the nature of our program we only accept those who have experience training others within the area of lactation or a related discipline (ie. reproductive health) and whom have international experience in low-resource environments.
WHO WILL I BE WORKING WITH?
It is important to understand that you will be working in a multicultural environment with volunteers from around the globe as well as with staff and volunteers from the communities in which we serve.
HOW LONG DO I GO FOR?
We look for volunteers who will be able to commit to a minimum of 4 weeks for lactation specialists, and 8 weeks for coordinators. This allows for relationships to be developed, skills to be passed on to the community and exit plans to be implemented.
CAN I TAKE MY PARTNER OR CHILDREN?
Unfortunately given the nature of the work, we are unable to accommodate family members to join you.
I AM A MAN - CAN I VOLUNTEER?
Not generally. Due to the nature of our work there are very few specific cases where we can have men working on our team in field. There are, however, many opportunities to volunteer with our virtual team if you are a man.
CAN NPI PAY FOR MY TRIP?
Volunteers are responsible for all of their travel costs including flights, meals, visas, and travel insurance. NPI will cover the cost of housing and in-country transportation. We can assist you with fundraising if you need. Our fundraising coordinator can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHERE WILL I STAY?
We have a volunteer apartment for our local staff and international volunteers. Our team is small in size. There are usually 2-3 international volunteers there at one time. The apartment has 4 bedrooms in total though depending on the number of volunteers there at any given time, you may be asked to share a room.
IS IT SAFE?
Safety and security is of the utmost importance to NPI. We provide a detailed security assessment of your site upon registration as a volunteer. Our project sites are located near Duhok, in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq. Although this is a generally safe area with very minimal threats to international aid workers, the surrounding areas are engaged in conflict. We do everything within our power to be aware of security incidents that are happening in the region and to plan for safety. It is important that you remain vigilant with regards to safety precautions, and as outlined in the Code of Conduct and our Iraq Security Plan.
It is recommended that you register with your government’s travel advisory communication system if one is available. Additionally, it is important to keep your emergency contact details up to date with your volunteer coordinator at all times.
WILL I RECEIVE TRAINING?
It is important that you be familiar with the work that we are doing on the ground. No matter what your background is it is important that you know about the work you will be supporting and the reasons behind our programs. There are many complex and specific issues to infant feeding in emergencies and we must know that you understand this in order to comply with our policies and procedures. We require that all our volunteers to complete a training package prior to departure. This will be outlined further once you decide to commit to volunteering with us.
In addition to training in our work we recommend short courses in stress management and psychological self support which is imperative in this line of work.
IS THERE IN-COUNTRY SUPPORT?
During your time in Iraq, you will be supported by our Regional Coordinator on the ground. In addition, weekly meetings will be held virtually with the Iraq Country Director.
WILL I RECEIVE A CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION FOR MY WORK?
We are able to provide a certificate of completion upon request.
CAN I BRING DONATIONS WITH ME?
We strictly ask that you please do not send, or bring with you, any physical donations such as clothes, carriers, food, toys, etc. Physical donations are difficult to store and hard to coordinate. This includes any donations related to breastfeeding such as nipple creams, perinatal creams, breast pumps, bottles, cups, formula, etc. These items are strictly prohibited.
The main way you can help us fundraise is by helping us raise money. Money enables us to purchase what we need locally in Iraq, which allows us to be flexible and give back to the local economy.
CAN I FUNDRAISE FOR THE PROGRAM?
NPI is a nonprofit organization that relies solely on your support. Fundraising is crucial and enables us to meet the needs of refugee mothers and their babies.
You can help us fundraise by organizing events in your community, from a picnic to a dinner. You can be creative in how you choose to fundraise for NPI.
If you are interested in setting up a fundraising page on our website to raise money for mothers and babies or to help cover volunteer housing costs please visit the fundraising page for more information.