Friendship Force International: The uncertainty of Covid-19

Recognizing the uncertainty of COVID-19                           View email in browser
A Special Message From Friendship Force International

Friendship Force International recognizes the increased uncertainty that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) may be causing. Please know that the FFI Staff and International Board of Directors are very carefully monitoring CDC guidelines and government travel advisories. Obviously, none of us can predict what will happen next—and travelers are questioning their plans. Most of you are continuing with your Journeys, while others are feeling more cautious. Whatever you personally decide, we encourage you to do your research, speak with your hosts and consult with public notices before making a final decision. And of course, please don’t hesitate to call us with any questions or concerns. In the meantime, we hope that the following information helps with your decision making.

2020 Journeys through April 30
Based on the facts today, to ensure the safety of our travelers, we support any hosts or ambassadors who are feeling nervous about their planned March and April Journeys in heavily impacted countries. We are in the process of contacting the participants of all impacted Journeys in this category to offer assistance with the postponement of the canceled Journey or the refund of any FFI and host fees paid.

2020 Journeys for May-December
At the moment, we do not anticipate any changes to Journeys for the second half of the year. We will continue to review the official advice for all areas to ensure we protect your health and safety.

Going forward, we will continue to monitor the situation with our clubs and programs. If the authorities recommend against travel to a specific place, we will help participants postpone their Journey to another time or switch participation to another Journey of interest. If a travel ban is instituted, then FFI will refund to you any fees paid for a Journey to that destination.

Should you choose to cancel your own participation in a Journey that we are still planning to operate, then fees are non-refundable and normal cancellation penalties would apply.

General Advice When Traveling:
Stay informed about the situation, exercise sound judgment, and understand that by participating as an ambassador or host you agree to assume responsibility for your own welfare. As always, we strongly recommend travel insurance for the standard travel and medical issues.
Be sure you’re aware of cultural and religious differences, sensitivities, and general health and safety recommendations for each place that you travel. Consider using your government’s resources for safety alerts and advisories. Examples of these are:

Australian Government of Australia:  www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations
Brazil Government: www.saude.gov.br/saude-de-a-z/saude-do-viajante
Canadian Government: Country Travel Advice and Advisories 
Deutsche Auswärtiges Amt: Reisewarnungen
France Diplomatie: www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs/
Japan MOFA: https://www.anzen.mofa.go.jp/
Netherlands Rijksoverheid: https://www.nederlandwereldwijd.nl/reizen/reisadviezen
New Zealand Government:  SafeTravel.govt.nz
Russian MOFA: https://www.mid.ru/preduprezdenie-dla-rossijskih-grazdan1
UK Government: Foreign Travel Advice
U.S. Department of State: Travel Alerts and Warnings
WHO (World Health Organization): https://www.who.int/ith/en/

We live in uncertain times. Whether we are dealing with political unrest, acts of terror, natural disasters, or even COVID-19, as Friendship Force members we understand the importance of sound research and informed judgement in our decisions to travel and host.

If you have any questions, please email us at support@friendshipforce.org.

Have you ever traveled during times of uncertainty? We’d love to hear about your experience! Email us your story at support@friendshipforce.org, subject line: Traveling in uncertain times.