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In 2005, a second year medical student and dental student sought out volunteering opportunities during their winter vacation. One of us had a trip planned to the Amazon in Brazil, and wanted to provide some basic health services to the needy people while they were there. Like any other Internet-savvy person, we scoured the Internet and wrote dozens of emails to various volunteer organizations. We never heard back from a single organization that could help us fulfill our dream and our hours of research and emailing went to waste.
The medical student was frustrated and decided not to go on the trip to Brazil. The dental student went on the trip as planned , but for a vacation. As he trekked through the jungles and sailed down the rivers of the Amazon during his vacation, he came across a large number of people who could have used his dental services, even with the little knowledge he had at that time. The saddest part was that there were lots of people who wanted to volunteer, but just didn’t have the platform.
Meanwhile, millions of people were going without basic healthcare around the world. When he returned home, he wondered if other health professionals and people had had similar experiences. In the meanwhile, the medical student has found out through people he spoke to that physicians and medical students had similar roadblocks to volunteering. The problem started expanding to MPH students, MBAs, nurses and pre-meds, who all wanted to make a difference in global health. DentalVolunteer was launched in 2005 to help people volunteer in dentistry volunteer; a couple months later, we launched HealthCare Volunteer to empower anyone to make a difference in global health.
Neilesh Patel & Elliot Mendelsohn