“I first learned about medical projects abroad from a friend who went through a different company. After researching many programs I decided Global Nomadic best fit my needs and outlined what I wanted to get out of the experience. My main concern was safety while I was abroad seeing as how this was going to be my first trip to a third-world country and I didn’t have much background on what to expect. Thankfully, one of my project managers, Charles, was incredibly helpful in answering each one of my many questions ranging from what the accommodation would be to what everyday life would be like in Arusha. Overall, my pre-departure planning was extremely thorough so I would be prepared when I finally arrived in Tanzania. In terms of paying for the trip, I had been working and saving money so I was financially able to support myself and pay for the trip without fundraising.
I arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport around 2 pm, just an hour after my friend who was also doing the project with me who was waiting at the airport with open arms. I was so thankful to have done the project with a great friend who would be my support system when I was feeling under the weather about halfway through my placement. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. We would soon become good friends with a few of the women that would come in and help out around the house, along with the security guards and chef! They helped u with our Swahili and gave us tips on local paces to go for a cup of coffee or day trip ideas. In terms of the local area a culture, I had researched the town of Arusha before I arrived so I would have some idea of what the town was like, however honestly that didn’t prepare me the way I would have thought. I understood that I was going to be living in a third world country and things would be drastically different than my hometown in California, but I don’t think there was any way I could have truly prepared myself for what life would be like there. Apart from the culture shock I had, it was nice to know that my fellow volunteers had gone through the same thing. They would give us little tricks and tips from how to stay positive when I was feeling homesick to what Dala Dala (bus) to take to get to the local mall. I made some amazing friendships there that I still talk to today, and I’ve been living back in California for a few weeks!
Going into my placement, I had a Bachelors degree in Kinesiology and CPR/BLS certification so I knew I wasn’t going to be preforming surgeries or anything advanced. Even though I was not as qualified as other volunteers, I was still able to observe surgeries and small procedures, along with take vitals. Myself and a few other volunteers I became close with would rotate from the surgical ward, to pediatrics, to outpatient where we took vitals like height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. Personally, I felt like I was being helpful most in outpatient care because the job of taking vitals was what an experienced nurse was previously doing, so by us taking over, there was an extra nurse available to help patients. I think the biggest challenge I encountered would have to be the language barrier. While living at the house, the women that worked there would teach us the basics of Swahili so we would be able to communicate with he locals, however when it came to working in the hospital, knowing how to say “where is the bus station” didn’t help much. Thankfully one of the outpatient nurses taught us how to say the important medical terms we would need to properly take vitals.
In terms of successes, I would say my I am most proud of going on this placement in the first place. I have always wanted to travel to a third world country and being able to help lend a hand in a hospital and explore an incredible place like Africa was incredible rewarding. Not only was the volunteer aspect very beneficial to myself growing as a person, but being able to meet amazing people and live in their hometown for a couple months was indescribable. We had the chance to go to a Massai village to see their way of life, travel to Zanzibar for a weekend, take a day trip to the Hot Springs, and go on a life changing safari. I think doing a project like this is something everyone should so at some point in their life, whether it is working in a hospital like myself, or playing with children at the orphanages, it will change your life. This experience was immensely humbling and eye opening which is why I hope everyone gets to experience a journey like this. “