Volunteer Review: Anita J., Medicine in Nepal
As a recently graduated student, I had a lot of free time. After doing some research about Projects Abroad I decided to volunteer on the Medicine project in Nepal. As a pre-medical student, I was interested in gaining experience working in a hospital.
After convincing my parents, I could prepare for my trip to Nepal. The Projects Abroad team was incredibly friendly. Whenever I had any questions, I sent an email to the team and they answered in a reasonable amount of time. The process is also quite helpful; it guides you to prepare for the trip so that you have everything you need.
The first thing you notice as you get off the plane is that it is hot, very hot. I was at Nepal from the end of July to mid-August and I had got there at the very end of the extreme heat that Nepal experiences. I had read online about the extreme heat and I had braced myself for it, but it is exceptionally unexpected. It is much better when it rains, and it frequently does.
Arriving in Nepal
After I landed in Kathmandu, I spent a day at Hotel Excelsior. It was quite a nerve-racking night. I was all alone in a foreign country. I had never really felt that alone before. The director, however, was extremely friendly. The next day, I left extremely early to get on a tourist bus for the 6 hour drive to Chitwan. It was a grueling trip.
It was extremely warm in the bus and the ride was bumpy. We stopped around half way to take a break. Something that made up for the arduous trip, however, was the view out the window. Kathmandu is at a quite high elevation. To get to Chitwan, you have to climb over the mountain and then go down. The views of the mountains were amazing and breath-taking.
I stayed with Binod and his family and had two roommates. The room I stayed in was at the top of the house and it led out to a balcony that had a beautiful view. The bathroom had a toilet and shower, which only had cold water but this was a relief from the hot weather of Nepal. The room I stayed in had a bed with a pillow and a thin bed mat. The room also had two fans. It was generally a good experience.
My Medicine placement
My day started at 7am. I ate the meal prepared for me - usually a pancake with an egg, sometimes noodles - and was off to my placement. You can walk, which takes a long time, or take the “tuk-tuk”. Tuk-tuks are a form of public transportation. At my placement I observed the nurses and doctors, and there were times I even got to help. I usually ate lunch at 12:30 either at the hospital canteen (which had cheaper food) or restaurants outside. At the end of the work day 4pm, I went to the hotel everyone hung out at or went home.
During my three weeks at Nepal, I was in the ER, sample collection, maternity ward and the operating theatre. In the ER, I generally observed and shadowed doctors and nurses. I brought my own gloves and had it handy at all times so that if the nurses needed my help, I was always ready. In sample collection, I met a very nice medical student who helped teach me how to collect blood samples. It was rather nerve-wracking but I learnt a lot.
In the maternity ward, I helped set up the beds and observed rotations. Rotations are always done in English so it is easy to follow along. I got to observe an emergency C-section (which is very common in Nepal). I also got to observe a natural birth.
A lot of the food in Nepal is very spicy, so if you like spicy food you will enjoy it a lot. I value all the experiences I had in Nepal - from meeting new people to experiencing new things - everything was exciting and I am so glad I went.
I hope to return some day and volunteer with Projects Abroad.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.