Get involved

Become a Surgical Volunteer

Esperança partners with indigenous organizations to provide surgical treatment to vulnerable populations who are often uninsured or unable to cover the costs of essential surgical care. Our volunteer teams provide a wide range of surgical specialties and come from all over the United States, procuring medical supplies for their missions. Esperança is always seeking volunteers to start or join surgical teams! Are you ready?


Specialty need per country 

  • Santiago, Dominican Republic ENTVaricose Veins 
  • Abancay, Peru - ENT, General, Gynecology, Hand, Ophthalmology, Urology, Varicose Veins
  • Guayaquil, Ecuador ENT, General Pediatrics, Ophthalmology, Plastics, Urology
  • Nicaragua (various locations) – General, General Pediatrics, Gynecology, Hand, Neurosurgery, Orthopedic, Plastics, Varicose Veins, Varicose Ulcers

2023 Surgical Schedule

Pediatric Orthopedics, February 2023

Plastics (Hands) April 2023

Opthalmology April 2023

Pediatric Orthopedics, May 2023

Pediatric Orthopedics, November 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Unfortunately, due to the limited size and scope of our program, we are limited in the number of non-surgical team members per trip. Spanish-English translators are considered based on necessity.
Each team is assembled by a lead surgeon and includes an anesthesiologist, operating room nurse, and surgical technician. Teams range from 4-12 people. Providers must be currently licensed and successfully complete Esperança’s credentialing process. Once determining qualifications and availability, additional documentation will be requested. Once these documents are approved by our credentialing committee, they are sent to our in-country partners to obtain approval from the local government. In order to process your application in a timely manner, please send your documents at least 3 months prior to your mission’s departure. Individual volunteers are added to a waiting list and filled in as needed.
Esperança is very flexible with dates and times but must coordinate with local hospitals to avoid holidays and other special days. Each mission is usually 1 week. Teams typically leave on a Friday or Saturday from their hometown, start operating on Monday, and return on a Sunday. It is the team leader’s responsibility to coordinate dates for a mission. Once your team dates are finalized, we send your team’s dates to our in-country staff to ensure that local hospitals, staffing, and patients will be available for your mission.
Costs vary depending on the type of mission, duration of stay, travel season, and flight preferences (coach versus business class). Volunteers traveling are asked to cover the cost of their flights, lodging and meals, typically a total $1,000 - $2,500 per person. Additionally, teams are required to fundraise for full or partial mission costs, outside of their travel expenses. The average mission costs Esperança $9,500 (this includes processing medical personnel licenses with the country ministry of health, providing transportation and/or lodging for rural patients, patient labs, advertising for patient recruitment, etc).
Family members, friends, students, or other individuals who would like to join a volunteer are able to join you on a case-by-case basis. Any individual who joins a surgical mission, but is not a volunteer, must cover 100% of their own expenses.
Esperança will make your flight arrangements. Based on your travel needs, we will provide you with a quote. Once you have approved the itinerary, your flight will be purchased. Esperança will send you a request for reimbursement upon your return. Volunteers can make their own arrangements, if preferred. Should you choose to do so, please send your itinerary to Esperança prior to purchase for review.
Esperança will make your hotel arrangements and send you a request for reimbursement upon your return. We have relationships with in-country hotels that are safe and comfortable. We also have negotiated rates with hotels to keep volunteer costs to a minimum. Each volunteer will have a private room with a private bath, hot water, and cable. There is also wi-fi in all the hotels we use.
Teams are required to bring any supplies and medications that they will need for their mission. A general list of items can be provided to you depending on your surgical specialty. Esperança can also provide you with a solicitation letter for businesses and colleagues. If you are not able to procure all the items, our local team may be able to obtain them prior to your mission. Most general supplies can be be purchased in-country but certain specialty supplies and some medications can be are out of reach due to cost or limited availability. If you aren't able to find an item, please let us know beforehand.
We ask that each team, prior to their departure, send us a list of supplies with an estimated value. This is very important in helping us request a letter of support from the host country’s Consular Office. These documents are approved by the Consular Office and Ministry of Health, and will help your team pass through Customs with all the approved supplies. A complete list of supplies must be submitted to Esperança at least 3 months prior to your departure date.
Visas are not required for travel to Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Nicaragua, or Peru.
Typically, our teams do not have any issues passing through customs in our host countries unless they have not submitted a supply list and acquired a letter of support. Host countries are familiar with Esperança’s Surgical Program and are supportive of our work. Esperança obtains permission from the local government for each mission. A letter of support from the Consular Office will be provided for each mission prior to your team’s departure date. Should any questions arise, please show the customs official this document. Contact information for our local offices will be provided to you in case local officials request additional information.
Yes, our local team will welcome you at the airport of arrival and provide transportation to the mission site and/or hotel.
Our volunteer teams typically work Sunday through Friday from early morning till early evening. Breakfast is usually provided at the hotel. Lunch and dinner plans will be provided for you by our local team. Our local team may plan sight-seeing outings based on your preferences and available time. This may include hiking, driving through communities, visiting a local winery and coffee plantation, or shopping.
Not a problem. Although speaking Spanish is helpful, it is not a requirement for our volunteers. A local bilingual staff member or volunteer will be available to help translate during your mission.

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