This page is intended as a resource for prospective volunteers, as well as others who are coming to the Edna Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland. For more general information about the experience of volunteering at Edna Hospital, please see this page: www.EdnaHospital.org/volunteer/
Hargeisa International Airport is only 10 minutes away. If volunteers and visitors for the Edna Hospital land in Hargeisa, we pick them up free of charge. If needed, we can also help with ticket purchase from here.
The long runway at Hargeisa International Airport is currently (early 2013) being lengthened to accommodate larger aircraft. We look forward to improved airline service in the near future. Until that happens, here is information about the airlines which serve the region.
Ultimate Air – www.ultimateair.net – There are flights 5x times weekly and flight takes 40 minutes between Hargeisa and Djibouti on new aircraft with South African pilots. $195 each way single fare. (Compare to $150 each way by road which takes 2 1/2 hours and is not recommended.)
East African Safari Air Express – provides flights from Nairobi. The last time we checked, the flights were scheduled in each direction only on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Nairobi, which serves as a hub for air travel in East Africa, is very easy to reach.
African Express – Two flights a week between Dubai and Berbera which is two hours drive away from Hargeisa and requires that we send you our car and escort to pick you up from there. (It may be interesting to know that the Berbera runway is the longest in Africa as it was built for the US Space Shuttle to land if needed and is one of six similar runways in the world)
Daalo Airlines – From and to Djibouti has two flights a week and also has two flights that link Djibouti to Dubai and Djedda.
Fly Dubai – Has three flights between Djibouti and Dubai
Jubba Airlines – Has flights between Hargeisa and Djibouti and connections between Djibouti and Dubai
Ethiopian Air – Daily flights between Addis Ababa and Djibouti
Upon your acceptance as a volunteer, you will be asked to email to Edna a scanned image of your passport (just the page with your photo). Your visa will be arranged ahead of time and you will be emailed a document which you should print (The hospital charges a Visa processing fee of US$10 which the volunteer settles after getting here). Carry this document with you and present it at the Immigration Desk at Hargeisa Airport. Everybody there is well familiar with Edna. You will have no difficulty at the airport as a hospital driver will meet you and assist you through airport formalities. The fee for the Visa itself is paid at the airport when it gets stamped on the passport and is $44 which is paid in U.S. dollars. The Exit Visa costs $34.
Volunteers are each provided a private room with private bathroom in an area within the hospital. There are six rooms with a common area (table and chairs; TV and lounge) and a kitchen (stove, refrigerator, microwave, sink).
Each room includes a small bed, wardrobe and desk. The shower will be a surprise to many – just remember to flip on the little water heater a little ahead of time, unless you’re up for a cold shower.
Wireless Internet is available throughout the hospital. The last time this page was updated, the Internet was on the slow side and not reliable. Fiber optic cable is being laid right now and vastly improved Internet is expected “soon.”
One is able to shop and cook as one pleases, using the kitchen facilities, but most volunteers take all their meals, buffet style, at Edna’s own table.
As is the case, perhaps, in all African countries, one should never drink tap water. Bottled water is readily available. Because of the climate, remember to drink lots of water while in Somaliland. A bottle of mineral water currently costs 32 US cents.
Laundry and room cleaning is provided by a staff of the hospital. Leave your laundry inside of your room by the door in the morning and it will be returned cleaned and ironed. Typically by the next evening.
The Edna Hospital has armed guards as well as civilian guards on duty at all times. The volunteer accommodations are further protected by a gate which is secured from the inside past 10pm. Edna usually briefs visitors when they arrive about security regulations.
In general, Somaliland is a safe country which has been stable for the last 22 years. Since every country in the world has had its share of terrorist attack, there is always a need for vigilance and security. Escorts are provided if traveling outside of Hargeisa or during late hours.
Usual precautions with valuables and passport is always advisable. Bear in mind that no country has an embassy here but certain countries – United Kingdom, Ethiopia, and Denmark – maintain offices able to provide assistance to their citizens; if needed. All United Nations Agencies have missions here too.
No ATM Machines – There is no possibility of you being able to access your bank account or credit cards from Somaliland.
The currency is the Somaliland Shilling, and fluctuates. Presently worth about 6800 to one U.S. dollar. It takes a big stack of them to make just $10. It’s easy to use or exchange U.S. dollars or Euros for many sorts of purchases.
Apart from bringing cash with you, you have two good options.
1) Dahabshiil – www.dahabshiil.com – This is a good choice in case you happen to live in a city with a sizable population of Somali immigrants. Somalis the world over rely upon this service to deliver money to their families. It’s inexpensive and safe. You can send money to yourself ahead of time or you can ask a family member or friend with a nearby office to send you money after you arrive.
2) Western Union – www.westernunion.com – This costs more but the service is available worldwide. Wire money to yourself, and pick it up after you arrive; or have it sent by somebody else as needed.
If you’re considering buying travel insurance, be aware that Somaliland is, many times, mistakenly considered to be a part of Somalia which is not covered. Two insurance companies that will cover you here include Frontier Travel Insurance and global.ihi.com
American cell phones will not work here. British and European phones often do work, on roaming. You can purchase a cell phone here for as little as about $40. You can also easily buy a SIM card for a Somaliland number and use for both national and international calls. Calls from Somaliland are cheaper than anywhere else so it may be easier for you to call home frequently.
You will find ordinary items such as shampoo, deodorants, creams and toothpaste available in the Edna Supermarket. Some more things are available next door in the Edna Pharmacy, or in any of the many Supermarkets downtown.
What to Bring
Scarf – women in Somaliland are expected to keep their hair covered while in public. During landing in Hargeisa, you will observe that all the women passengers not already wearing a scarf putting one on. It is recommended that women volunteers bring a scarf in their carry-on luggage.
Sunscreen – nearly all volunteers receive the opportunity to go on outings to see some more of Somaliland. Especially popular is a visit to the Laas Gaal Cave Paintings, which happens to involve a couple of hours out in the equatorial desert. You may want a hat, as well.
Hot Weather Clothes – it’s a hot, dry climate so bring loose-fitting clothes. Both men and women should always wear long pants. Shorts are not acceptable.
Cold Weather Clothes – The months of December and January are cold. Volunteers spending winter here should bring a couple of sweaters and socks, or buy them here as needed.
Electrical Adaptor – The electrical outlets here are British and European. If you’re coming from elsewhere, you will need to bring one or buy an adapter here. It’s 220 volts, as opposed to 110 volts in North America – so, while you can plug in your laptop and it will be fine, other electrical devices might get burnt to a crisp.
Letter of Recommendation
– Many volunteers receive from Edna a personal letter commending them for their volunteer service here at the Edna Hospital. Edna has learned that these letters have been found by the volunteers to have been of great value in both school and job applications. Only, do please remember to request this letter a few days before you leave, and not at the last minute.
Tobacco-free, Drug-free and Alcohol free
– Volunteers should know that the hospital environment is tobacco / drug / alcohol free and their use is not accepted within the hospital or residential premises.
– Over the years, the hospital has welcomed hundreds of visitors, guests, volunteers and employees from every Continent of the World and belonging to different religious denominations which receive full respect from us. We expect the same for ours and Edna would be happy to brief visitors if they are not sure about how to go about certain cultural matters while they are guests in our country.