Volunteer Review: Yeji K., Medicine in Nepal
I decided to go overseas to volunteer in Nepal straight after my final year of high school.
Why I chose Medicine in Nepal
The Medicine Project was the most relevant to me as I looked at entering a career in that field. I thought I could gain some insight into the work that took place in a hospital and see medical care in ways I couldn’t within New Zealand.
Arriving in Nepal
Most of my flights were with another volunteer in my project and we spent our long hours in the air together. When we arrived, Projects Abroad staff met us and took us to the hotel in Kathmandu. My first culture shock happened immediately after exiting the airport and in the car to the hotel. The roads were loud and busy with numerous motorcycles weaving in and out through the cars and trucks! This fast-paced traffic environment was overwhelming at first, but I quickly grew used to this over the next few days.
Travelling to Chitwan
Once everyone in our project had arrived, we took a five-hour ride to Chitwan, where our medical placements were. Our accommodation in Chitwan was also at a hotel. The food there had both Western and Nepali options so there was something for everyone. We made use of the facilities they offered there in our spare time, such as the equipped gym and aerobics studio! All of us shared rooms with one or two other volunteers which meant we were able to get to know others on our project better.
Our Medicine Project
We went to several different medical placements throughout the two weeks. These included the teaching hospital, an eye hospital, cancer hospital and a family planning center. At our first placements, it became evident that it was up to us to take initiative and be proactive to make the most of our experience. We would ask the nurses and doctors questions about their routine and specialisations, and we would shadow them. Some highlights of these placements include being able to see patients after surgery and observe their treatments in the maternity ward. We also got to observe in the minor operating theatre of the cancer hospital.
Additional activities and exploring Nepal
After we finished our placement for the day, we would return to our hotel and have cultural activities back at the hotel. Examples of these activities were momo making, yoga and Nepali dancing to name a few. Otherwise, we would have medical demonstrations from doctors who came in to talk to us. Over the weekend, we got to go on a jeep safari through the Chitwan National Park and saw all the wildlife in the natural environment.
This project was not solely medical placements and tourist activities though. We got to visit a disabled children’s home as well as visit a school to give a demonstration on dental hygiene. We played games with them and these visits were great fun for both the kids and ourselves!
Of course, the fun I had on this project was more than just the activities. It was also in getting to know and becoming friends with my fellow volunteers and our project supervisors. The Projects Abroad staff were open and friendly. They checked up on us to make sure we were settling in and providing support when we needed it. The other volunteers were all from different backgrounds and countries but we all bonded over card games, snack foods and our love for the various animals around Nepal...but mainly the monkeys!
Recently, I was told that entering into study for a specific job without experiencing it was like buying a car without test-driving it first. With this in mind, I recommend this project to anyone who had any sort of interest in a healthcare or medical future. It always helps to know what your future might look like if you choose this pathway!
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.