Celebrating volunteers at Hesperian

A collage of various Hesperian volunteers.

Where There Is No Doctor began as a voluntary effort to develop health protocols that could be used by volunteer health promoters in a small mountain village. And Hesperian began as a volunteer organization to distribute Where There Is No Doctor more widely.

Although many things at Hesperian have changed since then, volunteers still play a huge role in helping us provide health information to people around the world. Despite the pandemic, our 114 volunteers contributed over 5,000 hours of their time over the past year. From packing books to conducting research, there are so many ways to pitch in at Hesperian!

Today we are sharing the story of one

of our volunteers, Noel León— a MPH student at UC Berkeley concentrating in

Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health. They were matched with us through a program at UC Berkeley Wallace Center and the rest is history!

HHG: What did you work on while you were at Hesperian?
NL: I worked on a literature review about Spanish-speaking community health workers in the US and performed qualitative data analysis on a data set that Hesperian collected for our Family Planning and Safe Abortion apps. But most of the summer was focused on a project to learn about how useful the Family Planning app was for Spanish-speaking health workers. Learning about how the app was helpful for different people was definitely the highlight of my experience. It also gave me a way to connect with Spanish-speaking community health workers and an opportunity to practice my formal Spanish!

HHG: What drew you to Hesperian?
NL: I serendipitously purchased a copy of Where There Is No Doctor. I thought the book was so incredible. It really blew my mind.So, when I learned that there was an opportunity to work with Hesperian— the organization that published this amazing book, and my graduate school program matched me with Hesperian, it felt like it was a sign from the universe. The opportunity also allowed me to work with tech and quantitative data, to apply the skills I was learning in graduate school!

Hesperian has a lot of great connections everywhere, not only in the US but all around the world. The fact that we are making the apps and that they impact so many people is so great. You are not only making a difference in your own community, but in different parts of the world.

But above all, the culture at Hesperian was for sure my favorite part of volunteering. Everybody was very flexible and friendly throughout my time there.

HHG: What is your favorite Hesperian resource?
NL: The Family Planning app is my favorite because I worked with it for so long and I know the ins and outs of it really well. I’ve even recommended it to my mom because she does sexual health counseling with her high school students! A few of my friends working at a non-profit clinic have also started using it. They’ll have patients use the app’s method chooser before they meet with the doctor.

HHG: What would you tell people who are considering volunteering at Hesperian?
NL: I would tell them to just go for it! Even if you don’t have much time, there are so many ways that you can contribute. It’s also a great way to get a footing and learn more about public health.