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Medical Mission Trips to Borneo

Thank you for your interest in IMR’s medical mission trips to Borneo! This is a very unique opportunity to work with populations that have little to no access to healthcare and make a huge impact on their lives.

The Need

Borneo is a rugged and remote island located in Southeast Asia’s Malay Archipelago and is the third-largest island in the world. The island is known for its biodiverse rainforest that is home to indigenous tribes and 288 species of terrestrial mammals, and its incredible geographical features. Borneo is mostly covered in dense mountainscape and features the 13,455 foot Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia. There are many other mountains with countless lesser-known trails to hike in Borneo, each with stunning panoramic rainforest and ocean views. While hiking, visitors have the opportunity to view over 700 unique species of trees, each seemingly more unique than the last. Travelers can also experience more of Borneo’s stunning topography and biodiversity by heading below the surface of the island’s remarkably blue water. 

Despite Borneo’s size, it is not densely populated, and most of the island’s inhabitants live near the coast. The residents represent approximately 300 ethnic groups, but about two-thirds of the population is Muslim. Since three different sovereignties govern this island, the Malaysian Ministry of Health runs the healthcare system; consequently, access to quality healthcare is not equally distributed, and many of the local health centers are not staffed by doctors. To make health services more accessible for the residents who do not live along the coast, the IMR team will work with local physicians to establish clinic locations in different villages in the jungle.

Our Work

Each day of clinic will be spent in the heart of a new village.  Community members will be eager to welcome you and receive much-needed treatment. During clinic, you can expect to assist entire families that span multiple generations. The services that you provide will range from the treatment of rashes, burns, and open wounds, to care for lymphatic filariasis, leptospirosis, and schistosomiasis. Since mosquito-borne diseases are quite common in this region, you will also educate families on how to prevent contracting malaria. 

You and the rest of the volunteer team will also educate locals on how to stay healthy and how to care for their loved ones. One of the main focuses of this mission is dentistry. Because dental pain is common here and all community members are encouraged to attend, the demand for dental care will be high. Another main focus of this mission is women’s healthcare. We will provide general women’s and infant care, as well as strengthen prenatal care knowledge.

Lodging & Transportation

Our Borneo trip is set apart from our other missions by the unique accommodations we have arranged. While on the island, you will stay in community longhouses, so you will not need to bring a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, or mosquito net. Since you will be indoors, tents are not required but can be brought if you would like additional privacy. The arranged transportation for the mission will include vans, 4×4 vehicles, and boats.

Personally, I have never felt more sure of my path and my decision to serve my community in healthcare. I have been enlightened in observing the way each member of IMR's volunteer team contributes something individual and unique but also incredibly critical to the team as a whole.

Jordan, IMR Volunteer

Trip Highlights

The highlight of this trip is serving patients who, without you and your team, would not have access to healthcare. Your patients will mostly be from working-class families and refugee groups and will be eager to receive your treatment and kindness. Since the most significant age demographic in Borneo are those aged 15 and younger, your humanitarian efforts will leave a lasting impression on those who will shape their nation’s future.

While the most rewarding and memorable aspect of this trip will be caring for the people of Borneo, you will not be able to forget the lush rainforest and mesmerizing sunsets. Another activity that you will always reflect fondly upon is your team’s trip to the Borneo Orangutan Conservation; if you are lucky, you may even go home with an orangutan selfie!

Food & Water

All food is typically provided during your stay. Please refer to your unique itinerary on our website to review which meals are provided each day. We may hire local people to cook for the team during our visit, or we may eat at restaurants or hotels. Lunch in clinic may include sandwiches made by the team or a feast prepared in your honor by community leaders. We recommend bringing snacks to eat during the day or evening or to supplement your lunch. High protein/high fat/high energy snacks are best. IMR also provides all of the drinking water for the team. Hydration and nutrition are extremely important for the health of the team. You are the best judge of your own health so please pack appropriate snacks and stay well hydrated on the trip.

Extend Your Stay!

Since you’re journeying halfway across the globe, consider extending your stay to see more of Borneo, the only place in the world where orangutans live in the wild! Join International Medical Relief on an exclusive trip extension provided by our partner, Worldwide Navigators!

Worldwide Navigators offers several options for wildlife viewing, island hopping, snorkeling and diving, and more. Take a look at the options available.

Itinerary

Itinerary is subject to change without notice.

Full Mission (8-9 Days)

Arrivals

You and the rest of your volunteer team will land at the Kuching International Airport in Malaysia. If you are traveling on the group flight or are purchasing airport transportation a la carte, you will board the transportation that will take you to your hotel located in Kuching to check-in by 5 PM for a team dinner. After dinner, your team leader will provide a general overview of the days ahead. Since you will be staying in and serving communities that are not typical tourist destinations, your journey in Borneo will be incredible!

Day 2

Orientation & Training Day

Once you have socialized and dined with your team during breakfast, your team leader will dive right into orientation. During orientation, your leader will assign roles for the clinic, present IMR’s clinic protocols, and provide an overview of the many communities your team will serve. This medical mission is unique because, unlike other IMR trips, the teams in Borneo will visit a different community each day of clinic.

One of our local partners will give your team an overview of Borneo’s healthcare system. Then you and your team will provide training for local healthcare providers to continue IMR’s long-term, sustainable education efforts. Education is as important as medical and dental care for our patients. Each clinic includes basic health education according to the specialties and skills of the IMR volunteers, as well as the needs of the local people. When communities become empowered to take health and wellness issues into their own hands, they become self-sufficient. IMR provides learning opportunities for the local communities through classes and hands-on learning to sustain their well-being beyond our visit.

After training, you will take a tour of one of the communities in the jungle of east-central Borneo, so be sure to bring your adventure shoes.

Days 3-7

Clinic

Once you have indulged in a hearty local breakfast at the community longhouse, you will meet with the other volunteers assigned to your clinic. Remember, you will serve a different community every day of the trip, so make sure you stick with your team. Clinics begin early in the morning and run into the evenings. Your days will be long and hard, but also incredibly rewarding.

One of the main focuses of this mission is dentistry. Because dental pain is common here and all community members are encouraged to attend, the demand for dental care in clinic will be high.

Since three different sovereignties govern Borneo, the Malaysian Ministry of Health runs the healthcare system. Consequently, access to quality healthcare is not equally distributed, and many of the local health centers are not staffed by doctors. To make health services more accessible for the residents who do not live along the coast, IMR has worked with local physicians to establish clinic locations in different villages in the jungle.

Day 8

Orangutan Preserve & Departures

As a reward for your team’s five full days of clinic work, you will spend your last day in Borneo in an orangutan preserve near Kuching. The Semeggoh Nature Preserve is a primate rehabilitation center that nurtures orangutans who need to learn how to survive in the wild. The orangutans that you will see have been rescued, either as orphans in the wild or from captivity, and will ultimately be released to the forest surrounding the compound so they may breed and live in the wild. Please note that the orangutan viewing will require you to hike along trails, so bring a daypack to help make your morning more enjoyable. If you are a lover of trekking and want to see these animals in the wild, then you may want to consider registering for the Orangutan Expedition from Worldwide Navigators

After you have spent your morning with the orangutans, you will join your team for a farewell lunch before heading home. Lastly, to make sure your trip ends on a positive note, the airport shuttle will be available to ensure you are at the airport at least three hours before your return flight departs.

Crisis Management & Emergency Response

We take security very seriously at IMR. It is our job to ensure that security precautions are in place, but please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee your safety on the trip.

  • We continuously review all current activities occurring on the ground, and we work with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy to know the ground situation to the best of our ability.
  • A security training conference call is available to our volunteers where we detail our security procedures that are in place for the trip.
  • We take many security precautions such as radios, a buddy system, emergency evacuation plan and security planning.
  • We protect the privacy of our volunteers in the field and provide them with customized contact information for their use.
  • During our mandatory briefing, team members review our safety protocols, evacuation procedures, protocols for illness, natural disaster and terrorism.
    We provide training to our teams to be cognizant of their own safety and to be aware of their surroundings.
  • Several policies require teams to adhere to safety issues.

Trip Preparation

A service that we are very proud of at IMR is the preparation that each team and team member receives prior to the trip. All team members will receive a detailed briefing packet about the country you are serving. In addition to receiving background information about the country and the public health issues affecting local communities, you will also receive detailed information on fundraising, community health education topics, clinic protocols, and a comprehensive departure packet. All of these materials are critical to the preparation for your trip. Finally, a guide to the infectious diseases of the country is distributed to medical providers prior to departure.

Donations to Our Himalayan Project Count!

Although each of our teams only have the opportunity to be a part of the IMR project in the Himalayans for a short time, IMR’s work in the Himalayans is long-term and sustainable.  Your dollars are a direct investment into saving and changing lives.  Your program fee is allocated to the overall mission while 15 percent goes directly into your personal logistics.

IMR supports the villages year-round.  Our goal is to never uncover a need that we cannot take care of.  We support the communities, the health clinics, the team year-round, and the patients when in need.  IMR has provided five helicopter evacuations of patients in critical need from the circuit into Kathmandu.  Whether it’s saving the eye of a 10-year-old boy in need of a very specialized optic surgery or providing knee and leg surgery for a young lady, IMR answers the call. Read their stories on our blog.

Security - $180
$180 3%
Staff & Logistics - $240
4%
Lodging and Meals - $900
15%
Insurance and Fees - $900
$180 15%
Transportation - $1,680
28%
Medical Equipment & Supplies - $2,100
35%

Mission Cost Breakdown

How does IMR use mission fees? See the complete mission cost breakdown below

Minimum Donation

Your generous donation helps to save and change lives every day.

Your charitable investment will go toward ongoing global relief to care for the underserved and vulnerable people of this community. As a member of this medical mission team, you will elevate the long-term impact of sustainable, capacity-building efforts that improve the health, wellness, and quality of life of those most in need. A small portion of your donation includes:

  • Clinic supplies and medications for patients
  • Clinic participation
  • Transportation, accommodations, and meals as outlined in the itinerary

Payment Deadlines

To save $200, a 50% donation payment must be received 14 weeks before the mission’s scheduled start date. Full donation payments must be received 4 weeks before the mission’s scheduled start date.

Early Bird Savings Opportunity

To be eligible, upload all your required documents and forms, and make a minimum of 50% of your donation payment by 14 weeks prior to your mission’s scheduled start date.

Flexible Flight Options

Volunteer with Airfare

You may choose to book a flight with us for an additional fee. Details on the available flight routing and US departure city will be announced on the Early Bird Date. Airport transportation to and from the team’s accommodations are also included with this option. Depending on your departure city, you may still need to purchase another flight in addition to this one. After this flight has been booked, you may contact our travel agent, Worldwide Navigators, for assistance booking any necessary additional flights.

Benefits of Flying at a Subsidized Rate

Volunteer without Airfare

Many team members choose to book their flight(s) to and from the mission location independent of IMR. This is a great option if would like to extend your stay in the area to tour and explore, or if the routing from you home airport is more feasible for you. If you choose to fly independently, please note that your transportation in between the airport and the team’s accommodations will not be provided. This will need to be arranged separately. Our partner for travel, Worldwide Navigators, would be happy to assist you in coordinating flights and/or transportation. You can contact them at travel@worldwidenavigators.com.

Benefits of Flying Independently

Featured Enhancements

**To purchase any of the above Featured Enhancements for your mission please contact our office at office@imrus.org or call at (970) 635-0110.

Fundraising

IMR provides a fundraising packet to all registered trip applicants that is full of ideas on how you can raise support for your trip or for supplies to be utilized on this specific mission. When soliciting donations for any of our trips, success is completed through telling your personal story. Why do you want to go? Who will you help? Why their donation can help you achieve the ultimate goal. Tell your story to anyone and everyone. Refer your potential or active donors to our website or Facebook page and to your personal fundraising page. You may share your personal fundraising URL on Facebook and other social media sites.

Join Us in Making a Difference.

Bring much-needed acute medical and dental care to a beautiful, culture-rich destination. You can join an IMR medical mission team today!

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