Volunteer Review: Elena L., Medicine in Tanzania
Searching for Medicine opportunities
For years it has been my dream to go on to study Medicine at University, and, as most of you know, this is extremely competitive in the UK. So as soon as I turned 16 I started looking for work experience that would help me with my application. Working at care homes and hospitals was great, but I felt I wasn’t doing enough and I needed to experience something different and unusual that would give me the opportunity to do more to help. This is when I thought of doing some work experience abroad, and I immediately started searching for websites that would offer what I was looking for.
Many organizations offered Medicine projects, but they all lasted at least 6 months, and as I was only 16 and had never been outside Europe my parents would have never sent me! And then finally Projects Abroad came up, with an amazing choice of fantastic countries that ran a 2 Week Special programme for Medicine, perfect!
Africa has always been on top of my list of places to visit, and so Tanzania was the obvious choice. At the beginning my parents were very reluctant to send me, so we took part in a webcam meeting and they were convinced it was a safe organization for me to travel with.
The night before leaving I couldn’t sleep from the excitement to be in a new country, learn about such a different culture and meet new people that shared my same dream! The two weeks I spent in Tanzania were probably the best two weeks of my life. The entire medical group stayed in one house together, and we all got along from the first moment.
We were very lucky with our accommodation as each room had a bathroom with toilet and hot shower, mosquito nets fitted in all the windows, and an excellent Mama that cooked the best rice and beans! Our host family was very friendly, letting us help them milk the cows in the morning, cook dinner and they taught us everything we wanted to know about Tanzanian culture.
2 Weeks at the Medicine placement
The first day we had an induction where they showed us around the city and the office, and gave us a plan of what we were going to be doing for the two weeks there. Every day a bus came and took us to a hospital, where doctors taught us about the many health issues Africa has to face, such as HIV and TB, and then we were allowed to visit clinics. The patients were happy to have us there, and the mothers let us hold their new born babies, which were all adorable! The day I enjoyed the most was probably the Medical Outreach, which was spent in a remote Maasai village taking temperature, blood pressure and giving out prescriptions, just like a real doctor!
We finished work at the hospitals by 5 each day, and after that we were given free time until dinner, where we were taken to masaai markets, shopping centers, drumming and dancing - anything we asked for!
The day at the hospital was great, although at first it was very shocking seeing how everything worked compared to England, especially in the villages where they use their own remedies instead of medicines. However there was so much more to the Medicine programme than just medicine!
During the weekend we went on a safari, and we were lucky enough to see lions! It seemed unreal to be only a few meters away from a real elephant, and the beauty of the scenery is something I’ll never forget. Every second there were more animals to spot, ones that I was only used to seeing in the Lion King movie!
We spent the night in a very comfortable Lodge, and the next morning we woke up at dawn to go hunt with the Bushmen! I never thought I would see a deer being killed, cut opened and cooked in front of me, and I didn’t think I would enjoy it either, but it was the best experience ever (although I wasn’t brave enough to try any of the meat!).
The hardest part - leaving Tanzania
Leaving Tanzania was the hardest thing, as after two weeks you get used to having no roads and chickens running everywhere! I never met such open and friendly people anywhere I have traveled, that made me feel at home even though I was miles away!
This experience has opened my eyes to what the world is really like, and I came back home with memories and friends that I will never forget, just wanting to go back and do it all over again! I would recommend it to anyone who wants a life-changing and rewarding experience, as it even better than it looks on the website!
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.