I feel like the programs hosted by GHEI are perfect for those who have yet to experience working in a quaint village of a developing country. The duration of the program lasts approximately 3 weeks, which is long enough to become well acquainted with Humjibre and its cultures, but short enough for those who find this type of environment physically and mentally uncomfortable. Practically speaking, this experience can be paired with other internships taking place early or later in the summer vacation, so many students and early professionals found this program to be convenient in such respect.
The impact that the actual work has on GHEI is debatable. On one hand, volunteers do reach out to a lot of residents and increase awareness about the modern world, but, on the other hand, much of the impact of the outreaches comes down to the donation money that we have raised prior to coming. The work is done primarily through the work of Community Health Workers, who are local residents who can communicate our message to the public. Thus the volunteers do many of the behind the scenes work, but truth be told, the actual work contributed by the volunteers are not as substantial, and thus left a few of volunteers feeling they were inefficient.
Nevertheless, this program should be commended for the kind of personal enrichment it provides. First, one feels incredibly safe: GHEI has established years of strong relations with the residents, and some volunteers have the opportunity to receive blessings from the village chief. Everyone in the town greets the "Obrunis" with a smile and an excited "wo ho te sen?", and because this face-to-face society is so contained, news travels fast, so the safety of the Obrunis will unlikely be jeopardized, especially under the protection of the chief. The extent to which the volunteers go and explore the town is highly dependent on one's willingness to interact with the people during spare times, mainly children. There are several really informative programs set up, including the trip to the mines, nearest (hours away) public hospital, and baby-weighing clinic. There are much more cultural activities set up, and I'd say is also the best part of attending GHEI.
Otherwise, this program also tests one's stamina to a new limit. Living off of chlorinated waters, cold showers, heavy, motion sickness (the roads are unpaved), tropical humidity, moldy clothing, side effects from malaria pills, and traveler's diarrhea. I personally came down with cholera at the end of the trip, but it wasn't too serious and lasted around two weeks.
Realistically speaking, the role of the volunteers on site is mainly limited to the planning stage of message delivery. (and of course, the requisite donation to attend the program). Other tasks involve the distribution of goods, which, in my case, were bars of soap.
Nevertheless, I have to say I probably wouldn't be the same person today had I not attended the program. I was surrounded by people who were just as keen as I was to discover and understand the way the people of Humjibre led their lives. They provide the perfect balance of immersion and safety, and have definitely inspired me to return someday. As with many other things in life, what you take from the experience is honestly dependent on your attitude and ambition to take away from the experience. My most memorable moment was a two hour long conversation I had with an eleven year old girl on the last evening of the program. I'm incredibly thankful for the program, and hope to come back with more knowledge so that I may be of greater contribution to the friendly and kind residents of Humjibre.