Here's what just some of our Medi Tripper's had to say....
Amana Wiliams Murthoo, Psychology Student
Manchester Metropolitan University,
Our placement consisted of us going to visit a mental health outpatient ward at the largest regional hospital. During our placement we shadowed Psychologists who worked there and worked alongside students from the university of Dar es Salaam.
During our visit we shadowed counselling sessions with patients who had psychological issues such as psychosis, dementia and depression etc. As well as this we visited a paediatric ward to see if us a psychologist needed to intervene with any psychological treatment for the children and/or for the adults looking after those children.
Moreover, we worked in the clinic where we did admin work for patients who were receiving medication. Whilst we there we also visited the occupational therapy unit, where we assisted children with neurological disorders, delayed milestones etc.
My stay in Tanzania has been very nice and comfortable. During my time here I have felt extremely safe and it feels like a home away from home.
Everyone that I have come across has been so accommodating and welcoming also.
It was amazing be able to experience a completely different culture and a way of life here in Arusha. I have found that the local people are very friendly, warm and welcoming which made my stay a lot more pleasurable. As well as this, going to a country where I was not an ethnic minority compared to being in the UK was nice to experience.
In regards to day trips I really enjoyed swimming in the Moshi Springs as it is such as beautiful place and it was lovely swimming in natural waters. As well as that I loved camping/ visiting the safari as it was a new experience for me and I loved seeing the animals in their natural habitat.
I felt very safe whilst staying in Arusha and was always occupied, there was not really a time I felt bored during my stay here.
Laura Krief, Medical Student 2019
France to Tanzania.
"I grew up. First because medicine is wonderful. Because exchanging with patients, creating trust relationship with them, reassuring them, helped me to be more open-minded, and more understanding about how life is precious. Because I had the opportunity to learn, everyday more, about the diseases, the injuries, where they are from, how to diagnostic them and how to treat them, in reality, not just in books. But secondly I grew up because it was hard. To deal with pain all day long, with death, to deal with the lack of means, the lack of medication, the lack of hygiene compared to France hospitals.
"I was hard to feel useless, to feel lost, because of the language barrier of the lack of knowledge, but always to keep going and doing as much I could do. I was hard to see things, to see the pain, how they treat it, how nurses and patients deal with it. It was hard to stay positive, but it was worth it so much. Because this experience was the mix of so many elements, so many feelings, it was unique. Unforgettable. I also grew up outside the hospital. Meeting new people from all over the world, having different cultures and ways of life, different experiences of volunteering, helped me to be better, in English first, but also in relationships and community life.
Also, it was incredible to be with people who talked with me about the things I saw in the hospital, when I felt lost or sad, I had this kind of family when I went back to talk with, to laugh with, to party with ! Finally, meeting new people at another part of the globe helped me to think about who I am, and who I want to be. In just can not be more thankful. It was a thursday, and I was about to see the first operation of my life, my first C-section. The mother is coming, I talk a little bit with her, about the future baby, the way she already had 2girls, and she wanted to have another one. She finally asks me my name when the anesthetist arrives, then the doctor. It was wonderful, to be there for the first breath of a new born, the first cry, the happiness of the mother when she discovered the baby was a little girl, the cleaning of the baby, the cut of the ombilical cordon, but also for the operation itself, the anesthesia, the suturing and the way the doctor answered to all my questions. So much emotion is just an hour. Two little weeks later, a mother and her baby arrived. I had to remove her stitches. She recognized me! She was the one! After hugging and asking for news, I finally asked for the name of the little girl. I will never forget how moved I felt when she told me that her baby’s name is Kansai-Laura. “Like you”, she told me proudly. I stayed voiceless." Laura K.
Sameera Sesay, Psychology Student 2019/2020
"I was in Tanzania for 10 weeks, what feels like a combination between a lifetime and a short breath was filled with different experiences that I never could have imagined. My dominant role was as a psychology intern in the mental health department in a large hospital in Arusha.. Here I divided my time between the psychiatric nurses and the counsellors. With the nurses I would help retrieve patients’ files and record the patient’s information during the session. If a patient needed further counselling as well as their prescription medication, me and another counsellor would take them for a therapy session. Sometimes patients would request a session, sometimes there were referred and as counselors who sat in the room during their visits we could also intervene and take a patient to therapy if we felt it was necessary. All my counselling sessions were shadowed, and I alternated between leading and observing sessions with other counsellors. When I worked with the counsellors, we did community outreach. One form of community outreach reach was the weekly radio broadcast on different mental health issues. Another community outreach programme was a basic counselling skills workshop which was open to the public and ran for a week. When I wasn’t at the hospital, I volunteered at a woman’s shelter, this was mostly me spending time with the women and getting to know them. Whilst they taught me some phrases in Swahili, I taught them some English. There was no particular agenda here and I would usually aid with the daily tasks such as cooking. I also had the opportunity to attend some of the sessions of a girl’s empowerment group run by my supervisor. This was an excellent opportunity to engage with a group of intelligent driven younger girls and motivate them in any way I could. During the sessions we would have discussions on different issues the girls were facing and try and enlighten them as well as find solutions. The orientation was a perfect balance between well informed with the chance to still explore for yourself. I was shown how to get to my placement, around town and a few restaurants, this was more than enough for me to survive and really experience Arusha. I never got lost my entire time there and I think that is a result of being well informed on how to get to and from different points. Arusha itself is not a complicated city and there are multiple modes of transport to get around. The experience was more than I could ever imagine. It has changed my perspective and refined me both professionally and personally. I’ve had an opportunity to work with people firsthand and put all my knowledge into practice as well as give back to communities. It has been a great learning experience that has only further confirmed my future career for me. Theoretically yes, I feel as though the program handbook offered bountiful information on Arusha as well as my placement form costs, to cultural customs. But practically no amount of preparation can ever be enough for such a life changing experience, the booklet did offer a great foundation though the rest is better to experience first hand.My supervisor provided me with an extensive amount of support throughout my experience. Her contact with me before the program was always fast and she answered all my questions extensively, this helped calm any worries I had pre departure. I met her on arrival and saw her quite frequently to discuss both my professional and personal development. In addition to this the interns I shared my accommodation with played a part in motivating me and providing comfort where necessary. I was well supported at a level that allowed assurance, correction, and development.The highlight of my experience is definitely the girl’s empowerment program. I found it both revitalizing and inspiring to be around young African girls who are just striving to be the best version of themselves. Their ambition and determination were contagious making me reflective of my own academic career and future career. I look forward to seeing them all progress and reach their full potential, supporting them anyway I can. Settling in was the hardest part for me – just adjusting to transport the weather and the currency. These are things that effect my day to day activities back home in England, so it was a big change that I had to address because they were also part of my daily activities in Arusha. Once I was settled in and had my own flow it was easier to enjoy my internship. The accommodation is more than suitable for the program. The bunk beds are comfortable and sharing rooms with other interns provides barrier against loneliness and self-isolation. Food services welcome those who like to cook and those who prefer not to, with the opportunity to try other food on the weekend when dinner is not provided. The house is always kept very clean"
Georgina Soul, Registered Midwife 2019
Before commencing my placement I had honestly mentally prepared myself for the “culture shock”. I was prepared to see poor conditions, limited resources and poor treatment of the women. However what I did not prepare myself for was the battle to assimilate and integrate into the team of nurses/midwives. In hindsight, and overall, my experience at the hospital was incredible and I was in no way ready to leave. However at times, especially in the first week, I was very ready to book the next plane home. The first two weeks proved to be the most difficult for me. As a young midwife, I am very used to being supported by senior midwives, I am also very used to midwifery as a group practice involving team work throughout the entire shift. Coming in to the hospital as a qualified midwife had its advantages but also its disadvantages. The advantages included having the appropriate midwifery knowledge and skills to (quite literally) throw on a pair of sterile gloves and accoucher a birth as I turned around to see the presenting part on view. It meant I could decrease the workload on the local nurses/midwives by attending full antenatal assessments of women and transferring them to antenatal ward as they silently progressed through the first stage of labour (I am still to this day in awe of Tanzanian women’s pain thresholds). It meant I could receive in caesarean sections and knew the policies around sterile fields, aseptic techniques and those associated with operating theatres. It meant I could prepare a woman for a caesarean section by cannulating and commencing an IV infusion of normal saline and putting in a indwelling urinary catheter. It meant I could give IM injections, IV medication and remove urinary catheters once the woman was 24hrs post-delivery. It meant I could perform solo (in one occasion) or work with the nurses/midwives in neonatal resuscitations and make important decisions re if a newborn should be transferred, if a woman should go for a caesarean section etc. All of these things I performed on a daily basis however it wasn’t until my third week that the nurses/midwives started trusting me and my practice, trusting that I was skilled enough to work alongside them. That’s where the disadvantages come in. Being qualified meant the nurses/midwives were very unaccepting (for the lack of a better word) of me. They, at first, didn’t believe or trust I was qualified and when I began to perform tasks and use skills they would continuously tell me my practice or judgment was wrong. They then talk about me in Swahili to their colleges making my self-confidence plummet through the floor. That’s when the desire to jump on the next plane home set in. However Pearl warned me of this, she reminded me that it wasn’t malicious it was their culture and I kept that in the back of my mind the entire time. In hindsight this questioning and feeling of being a poor practitioner did wonders for my self-confidence. Confidence not only in myself as a person, but in myself as a midwife. It, strangely enough, made my love for midwifery grow, it made me back myself, trust myself and become my own hype girl because I knew what I was doing was right and I knew I was doing it because I had a burning passion to empower women. Having been trained in a tertiary (level 6) hospital, I was accustomed to clean wards, single rooms, sterile/single use equipment and unlimited resources. Working at the hospital was a big shock to that system. Women labour side by side, sometimes two to a bed. In the Labour Ward there are three beds, no curtains or any attempt to provide privacy. The door is always open. Fetal heart rates are auscultated using a pinnard, ARM’s are performed with broken oxytocin vials. There is really adequate sterile equipment and women have to supply their own cord clamps, congas, sterile gloves, oxytocin, sutures, cotton and more. Although it was a shock and hurdle to practice in such conditions, it was something that I acclimatized too quite quickly and was able to provide the best possible care in the given situation. As mentioned, overall and in hindsight my time at the hospital was an incredible experience. It changed the way I viewed myself as a person, a midwife and a member of this world. It enhanced my love for midwifery and empowered me to use my love, skill, knowledge and now determination to return to a place like the hospital and work to make it better, for both the staff and patients. Walking into Siret Hostel on arrival day was such an overwhelmingly pleasant surprise. My boyfriend and I paid for the private room and it was decorated with so much love it felt like home the moment we entered. It was spacious enough for two people, had a wardrobe, four post double bed with mosquito net, a couch, a universal power board (life saver) and a place for us to store our empty suitcases. The lounge room and dining room at Siret were also decorated with so much love they felt very comfortable and homely. The area was spacious, there were comfortable couches, access to wide range of novels and other books, a very large fridge and freezer for us to use and a water filter. The highlight of my experience was my last shift at the hospital. My travel buddy/boyfriend who is a pre-med student was working in the Minor Theatre however there were no patients. Labour Ward was busy so he came over and experienced labour and birth for the first time. There was just myself and another nurse and within the space of an hour we had three births. The first was very straightforward and he stood and observed. He learnt how and when to give IM oxytocin, how to swaddle and weigh a newborn etc. Quickly after another baby was born, the nurse called me over as the baby was very evidently premature and required full resuscitation. As the nurse and I started compressions on this baby we hear a grunt and both look left to see another woman crowning, quite literally about to deliver. I leave the nurse with the resuscitation and smack on some sterile gloves, I tell Alex to draw up the oxytocin and lay out the congas and he does. The baby is quickly born and in perfect condition (thank goodness). Alex administers IM oxytocin (the first IM injection he’s ever given), and takes the baby to swaddle and weigh it while I deliver the placenta and ensure all blood/clots are expelled. Not many people in this world can say that they delivered a baby with their boyfriend but I can, and that’s something that will make me smile until the day I die. (The premature baby was successfully resuscitated and transferred to NICU at Mt Meru). Go in to this experience with enough knowledge in that you feel prepared, but enough ignorance that you make it the unique experience that it is for each individual. Be prepared, feel supported but remember, ignorance in bliss.
Kathryn Trecartin, Nurse Assistant 2019
"If you want to change lives, JUST DO IT! My reasoning for wanting to volunteer was so that I didn't get used to how healthcare operated in the United States, and only know that for the rest of my life. This trip changed my life. I was able to obtain hands on experience and learn more than I ever thought I would, and use that knowledge and apply it to my practice back home."
March Pienaar, Psychology Student 2019
"I started off my placement through observing psychological assessment, diagnoses and medical treatment. I then partook in the administration of patient details, diagnoses and associated medication. This helped me familiarize myself with the diverse range of medication commonly prescribed. I also showed that I was eager to help, learn and observe during therapy and psycho-education sessions. During the first week, I was invited to attend a radio interview with one of the senior counselors and a local volunteer, where we talked about causes of suicide and suicide prevention. I also showed that I was interested in observing Sister Glory’s occupational therapy sessions, and confronted her on this opportunity; she warmly welcomed me. She raised awareness on the causes of Cerebral Palsy and Jaundice, and how occupational therapy is used to improve symptoms. She used a range of activities and objects such as balls, foam rollers, mats and toys to stimulate infant’s senses, joint movement and improve muscle tone. This was done through stimulating walking, crawling, balance, reaching/ grabbing, neck movement and reflexes. I also observed how patient’s medical history, personal and family history was gathered, along with present factors to diagnose patients with a mental illness. During the second week, I attended more occupational therapy sessions and assisted Sister Glory with the different exercises for each of the infants. With the support and knowledge of Sister Glory, I began to lead some of these exercises. I also attended therapy with Danny; a boy with Autism. Sister Glory explained each of the exercises to be done with him, and how they are used to improve concentration, patience, sharing and social relationships. In addition, how balls, puzzles and massage mats are used for muscle and joint stimulation, relaxation, as well as sensory integration. During my last week of placement, we had a psycho-education session on addiction with clients and their family members. I prepared a small speech about the issues, triggers and strategies used for addiction. We then allowed patients to question and discuss these topics with us. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Siret Hostel; The hostel was very clean, relaxing, spacious and welcoming. I loved sharing a room with other volunteers; we all got along very well and made eachother feel comfortable and at home. This made settling into the new environment very easy, as we could share our experiences and have dinners/ outings together. My suggestions for future volunteers would be to be friendly, open minded, helpful and motivated to learn and step out of their comfort zone. You will be exposed to many cultural differences and some similarities. During these times it is important to reflect on how different health systems, health resources and societal issues influence these factors. It is also important to show and voice that you are eager to learn. This will open doors to new opportunities, such as shadowing occupational therapy and working with Autistic children. Moreover, having an excellent work ethic will help you gain respect from professionals, and to be invited to participate in events such as talking on the radio station about mental health issues, and preparing psycho-education lessons. I absolutely loved my time at Siret Hostel and Mount Meru Mental Health Clinic. I had full support from Pearl throughout my entire placement, and she provided me with adequate knowledge and advice needed to have a safe stay, and make the most of the opportunities my placement had to offer. Although, I have learnt a lot through observing diagnoses and associated medical treatment, counseling and therapy sessions were rare. For future volunteers, more use of therapy would be extremely beneficial for their learning/ development."
Nelli Yildrimyan, Dentist 2019
"My placement was at the dentistry ward in Levolosi Health Centre. I worked with Dr. Minja who was a very kind and modest person. She let me see lots of patients and also let me work at the minor theater as well. My stay at Siret hostel was totally amazing. I was very concerned about where I would be staying, but my doubts were unnecessary. The rooms and hostel in general is very clean and gets cleaned every day. 7/24 hot water is a major advantage. However what impressed me most was the meals. I cannot appreciate enough the efforts they showed to cook separate meals and adjust the weekly menu just for my dieting preferences and my food allergies (which, I know, is very challenging and even frustrating!). I never felt like an outsider, but instead during the entire stay I felt like home. The highlight of my experience was definitely the trip to the Materuni Waterfall and the Coffee Experience. I believe it is now within top 3 best-days-of-my-life list! I strongly recommend every volunteer to experience that environment. It was beyond words! I can’t thank the Meditrip family enough for this amazing experience!"