Big Dreams, Inc. is an innovative, creative, and cutting edge 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to creating educational opportunities for children and youth in the United States and the Republic of Gambia to live a healthier lifestyle, thus contributing to an improved quality of life for youth and families.
The organization’s projects, implemented by a well-trained staff, emphasize the development of good habits and character from an early age, to empower children to reach their individual full-potential by eradicating poverty through education and supporting the development of self-confidence, healthful living, good judgment, and academic achievement. Big Dreams, Inc. provides many individuals with a thorough foundation for future success.
Addressing the critical issues of education, fitness, and personal responsibility through fun and exciting programs and services that exercise high standards of ethics, coupled with best practices in management and accountability. We are dedicated to helping each young person reach his or her individual potential by practicing wholesome habits such as eating healthy and staying active. These are skills they will carry into adulthood.
Recognizing the physical and emotional effects of a sedentary lifestyle, the organization’s fitness and nutrition program was established to teach personal excellence in fitness, nutrition, and life, while encouraging a belief in personal responsibility, instilling positive habits, and demonstrating passionate commitment to excellence.
Our goal is to become an aggressive resource in broadening the scope of recreational activities for all youth in the community, while at the same time incorporating the importance of good nutrition and academic success.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Do I need to be a medical student or medical professional to participate?
We are in need of a variety of participants – some medical students, some medical professionals, and a few non-medical volunteers. Whatever your background or expertise, you are invited to apply!
How do I apply?
If you are ready to seriously commit to a mission in the Gambia we invite you to apply on our website. Have personal information ready like your emergency contact, passport details, a resume, and credit card details to submit the application deposit.
What does it cost, and when is it due?
- Every applicant is asked to submit a non-refundable tax-deductible $25 donation with their application.
• Joining a mission is free; all costs are covered by BDI, but all volunteers are required to fundraise $2,500 for Big Dreams. The $25 from your application is included in this amount. This is due six weeks prior to departure. If the total amount of $2,500 is not reached, you may choose to make up the difference yourself; however, any amount that has been contributed to that point is non-refundable.
• All donations to Big Dreams, a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, are tax-deductible, both for yourself and for others who support you.
What is the $2,500 fundraising amount used for?
- The cost of your airfare from your home country USA to the hosting country The Gambia.
- In-country food
- In-country lodging
- In-country transportation
- Medical supplies used by the team
- Sight Seeing of UNESCO World Heritage sites and cultural musical entertainment
- Contributing to the overhead costs of BDI Mission
What level of training is required?
- We do not require a specific level of medical training, but please let us know about any special skills in your application. Each team will have a variety of expertise represented.
Can I arrive late to a mission or leave early?
- For safety and security reasons, participants must commit to the full duration of the mission, which are normally 10 days long.
However, you may extend your stay to enjoy Bird watching, Safaris, river Kayaking and rafting, the possibilities are endless in the Gambia! Please let us know if you want to come in early or leave late.
How do flights work?
- We will organize your flight using special humanitarian airfare accommodations from the major airport nearest you. Flights will be booked one month in advance of the trip, and only after the complete $2,500 fundraising has been submitted. If you would like to change this flight, you may contact the travel agency on your own and all costs associated will be your responsibility.
Preparing for a Mission
How much luggage can I bring?
- The Gambia has a sub-tropical climate with plenty of sunshine throughout the year and average temperature highs between 29°C and 34°C.(85°F and 93°F There are two distinct seasons. Towards the end of October the dry season begins and the humidity decreases; we suggest that you travel as light as possible. The mission team will be moving around in-country with limited storage space. We may ask you to bring medical equipment and material in a separate checked bag on our behalf.
Do I need a Visa?
- Yes. It is highly recommended that all US Citizens travelers to Gambiaobtain their visas before they depart. your mission coordinator will notify you of requirements and instruct you on the best way to apply for a Visa. This is the responsibility of each participant.
What should I bring?
- Because storage space is limited, it is important to choose wardrobe and personal items carefully. We suggest:
In Your Wallet
- Cash (US dollars only) we recommend that you exchange your dollars to local currency upon arrival for incidental expenses
• Insurance card
- Immunization records
- Tickets (airfare)
- Medical ID tag with blood type, etc.
- Sunglasses and/or hat
- Phone and charger
- Reusable water bottle
- Notebook or journal, with pens
- Electrical adapter
- Personal required medication
- Laundry bag (Laundry Service will be provided at a minimal cost)
- Hand sanitizer
- Insect repellent
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Microfiber towel
- Small toys for local kids
What vaccines, inoculations, or immunizations do I need?
- BDI strongly advises all participants to abide by the recommendations provided by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Where will we be sleeping?
- We will be staying in a very nice Hotel on the beach by the Atlantic Ocean and commute to clinic sites daily.
- Depending on the location of the clinic, we may spend a night or two in a local lodge.
What kind of clothing should I bring?
- Volunteers don’t need a lot. Consider bringing four changes of clothing and seven pairs of undergarments to cover days where washing clothes is not available.
- Each volunteer will receive a Big Dreams t-shirt to be worn on the trip.
What kind of medical care will we be giving?
The Medical Mission to The Gambia will focus on the following areas:
- Pediatric: Almost 60% of the population is under age 25 so Pediatrician has a very important role to provide Screening for physical, emotional, and social health of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.
- Ophthalmologist: Cataracts causes a significant number of blindness in the Gambia, our team provided Vision Testing, Cataract Screening/Glaucoma Screening/Reading Glasses fitted and provided /Medication Dispensed.
- Dentist: Provided Dental Examination and Extractions to the communities.
- Laboratory Technician: conducted Urinalysis, Pregnancy Test, Glucose, Hemoglobin and Malaria.
- Minor Procedures: Wound Care, Cerumen Removal, Doppler, and IV Fluid Administration.
- Respiratory Therapy: Nebulizer treatment, Asthma Education, Medication (MDI) Dispensing • provided free medication and treatment to all identified cases that fall within mission objective and means.
- Health Education: provide community health training & awareness on critical health areas, especially cancer, diabetes, hypertension, Personal Hygiene, Oral Hygiene, Dehydration and HIV Prevention.
Contributing to a Mission
Do you take donations of medical equipment?
- Yes we do, but please contact us regarding need and timing before sending any equipment or supplies.
How can I donate to Mission to Heal?
- Please visit our donation portal to make a secure online gift. You may also send a check to our offices or contact us about other ways to give. All donations to BDI are 100% tax-deductible as Big Dreams is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. And thank you!