Africa

Elective International

Jambo my name is Radha and I'm a 4th year medical student from the UK. I came to Mombasa Kenya to do a 4week elective in Coast Province General hospital. Let me tell you now, it was the best decision I made! I have learnt so much from the doctors and patients and their families alike.

Coming from a National Health System, I wanted exposure to a low resource hospital in a developing country where I would be able to gain a vast amount of hands on experience. That is exactly what I got. There wasn't one day when I didn't learn a new skill or about a condition. The doctors were eager to teach and you were included into their team and your opinion and input mattered greatly to them. I had prejudged that their practice would be very different to back home, however, quite obviously, the knowledge and treatment guidelines were basically the same, only that the work ups and management was conducted to the best of their ability.

Being a government hospital meant patients had to pay for their treatment and investigations. Therefore Drs would have to manage the patients based on that pretence, sometimes having to skip certain steps.

The set-up is basic but it is incredible how much they are able to do still and the vast patient turnover. I chose to rotate through internal medicine, Obs Gynae, paediatrics and casualty/ER. These areas gave me a wide view of the standard there.

Having not been to a government hospital in a developing country before, I was apprehensive about how I would personally react more than fear of getting a shock. This was thanks to the Global aid team as they had thoroughly prepared me from weeks in advance.

Throughout my planning and decision making process, members of the team had been in touch via emails, text and calls to ensure that I knew exactly what I was paying for and what I could hope to achieve. Although I initially felt overwhelmed with the amount of discipline they proposed with regards to hospital timings and logbook completion, I later came to appreciate this level of organisation and care they had for wanting me to get the most out of the experience. They based my experience on objectives that I had set to achieve and tailored this whilst I was out here based on what I was able to see and get done and what further things I wanted to do. For example I was able to fit loads of IV lines and take bloods within the first week and so wanted more practice Suturing. I was able to do just that in casualty. As long as the staff know what you want to achieve and you show enthusiasm and intuition, you will get to do and see above and beyond what you had bargained for!

And it doesn't stop at the hospital... I felt I got a real feel of Kenya whilst I was there. Although awesome meals are provided, I made sure I ventured out and tried typical Kenyan food. The family I stayed with guided me to the best places which meant I didn't get ill even once!

Just like any country, you need to be smart and not put yourself in harms way. Your transport to and from hospital is in place so there is no worries there. The drivers are great fun and teach you about the area and the local language! Within the hospital you will have a mentor who will organise your time in hospital to make you sure you're not wasting your time and getting the most out of it. Then once in the team you will make friends with docs etc who will be so eager to show you around and make sure you see their country that you will never feel alone and in danger.

Any activities outside the hospital are organised by yourself but again the global aid team will be more than happy to give you ideas and contacts to get you the best deals and make sure you don't get ripped off. It obviously depends on your interests, for example I am really into nature rather than the touristy things, so I went on walks and to the beach. I even got the chance to do a kite surfing course. I am also a huge fan of food so I made sure I tried all the local delicacies! As long as you want to do things badly enough, you won't miss out!

I would advise taking lots of mosquito spray. And definitely make the most of the team. Ask them as many questions as possible. I felt bad for constantly annoying them to find out every last detail, but they were more than happy to help and I was grateful for all their advice as it meant my trip was successful and thoroughly enjoyable!! And once you're out there make the most of it, get stuck in, talk to doctors and patients about their experience and really get a feel of life for them. You will be amazed! Don't pity them because the majority are doing incredible things with their lives and are so happy! Just don't take them for granted and treat the people like they are below you. Developing country is just that.. They are developing and coming up in the world, and that is only possible because of its people!

I want to thank them all for being so great and can't wait to embark on my next adventure with them! Have a great elective and hope you pick coast general!

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Sep 9, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

I was a volunteer for the month of July 2015 in Kenya, Africa. I had a wonderful ground coordinator (Barnabus Mutua) and host family. I was introduced immediately to the community and family friends which made my trip most delightful and interesting. The project I worked on was well organized and I was encourage to participate in as many aspect of the project as needed. Weekend tours were organized which allowed me to see much more of Kenya and Nairobi outside of the work area. The home was nice and a variety of ethnic foods were provided each day. Other volunteers were welcomed in the home which enriched the experience even more. I am grateful to God for the opportunity to have had the experience in Africa doing what I love doing the most, which is: teaching, sharing and learning with others.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Aug 11, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I have had the best 5 weeks of my life here, completely bested my expectations and has been the perfect start to my gap year. Could NOT recommenced the place more, the diving is amazing, the staff are excellent and camp life is great. COME TO MAFIA!

Program: Gap Year
Location: Africa
Posted: Aug 8, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

I arrived at Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi Kenya several days before the visit of Obama. After I got my visa,one of my hosts Jackson picked me. Then he drove to the place where i will live for 3 weeks. On our way home, Jackson told me a lot about the Nairobi. He showed me where the downtown area and the tallest tower. The place where I live is located inside the slum Kibera.The environment is soso but worth to experience. In the afternoon,Leah(volunteer from Canada) and I went to the YAYA center and had our money exchanged and we got local Sim card with 3G network access too. This was basically what happened on the first day. On the next 4 following days, I worked at a Children Center inside the slum. It only costs around 10mins to walk there. When I went the the first day, the kids were a little bit shy. They were curious about me. Later, I was assigned by the Domitila(founder of center this children) to teach the class 2. When the kids first saw me, they were yelling Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee all the time because I am from Hong Kong, China. They really wanted to learn Kung Fu and, fortunately, I have learned Kung Fu when I was a kid. I do not want to let them down so i decided to teach them Kung Fu on the following two weeks. We truly had a good time and 8 of them will performance Kung Fu at the following school festival. Besides teaching Kung Fu, I graded their English assignments and helped the kitchen to serve breeakfast and lunch to the kids. I also helped the teacher Tarson to cut out the letters for the following school festival. In a word, this place is definitely worth coming and the coordinator Barnabas will take good care of you. Kenya welcomes you and the kids are waiting for you.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 28, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Cross-Cultural Solutions

I have volunteered with Cross-Cultural Solutions on 5 different occasions. Each time it has been an incredible experience and I hope to travel with them again. I travelled to Moshi, Tanzania once and Rabat, Morocco four times. I fell in love with both places and would highly recommend both trips to anyone that in considering volunteering abroad. The program is very well organized and the quality of the volunteer placements really makes you feel like you are giving back as you are working with grassroots organizations in each country. I can't say enough about the orphanage and school where I worked. I made amazing connections with both the children and staff, many of which I still keep in touch with today. The in-country staff were fantastic in both locations, they really go above and beyond to make sure you are safe and comfortable and have the best possible experience. The accommodations are lovely and the ease of getting to your placement with the help of their drivers/transportation was also great, it really allowed you to focus on the volunteer work and not the logistics. The food was also wonderful and CCS really gives you a unique opportunity to participate in other cultural activities, such as day trips, traditional cooking, dance and music. The way the program is set up you work hard in the mornings and have a good amount of time in the afternoons and weekends to really get to explore the location you have travelled to. Some highlights were a safari in Tanzania and a camel trip through the Sahara Desert in Morocco. My experiences with CCS have changed my life for the better, prior to my first trip I worked in a job that I wasn't completely in love with, since my travels I have realized I love working with children and have gone back to school to become a teacher. I owe these positive life changes to my experiences with CCS.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 21, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Original Volunteers

ORIGINAL VOLUNTEERS!!! DO NOT DO IT!!!!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jul 15, 2015
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Askari WCP

I participated in the Askari 2 week programme with a group of students and teachers from my college. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was blown away by everything when I arrived. The hosts, Katie and Ed were such passionate, knowledgeable and hospitable people. The food was great, the volunteer house was comfy and had everything we needed, the maid service was excellent and of course, the landscape and wildlife surrounding us were astonishing. The activities that we participated in showed us that there is a lot of work that goes into managing a wildlife reserve and it was always very rewarding at the end of the day to know what we had accomplished as a team. Everything about Askari is inspirational, and will most definitely change the way you live your life!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Jun 13, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

Unfortunately, although I had a good time at my placement in Namibia the advertisement for Volunteering at Naankuse was misleading. We were more like glorified farm hands than volunteers who were there to learn and help. I have since submitted my review to the coordinators at Naankuse who by the looks of it from facebook have taken some of my points on board ie mixing up the work. However, we were often left out of what was going on and not given details which would have made the overall experience more engaging, interesting and I would have been willing to go back. Unfortunately this was not the case. I feel it was Frontiers responsibility to advertise this better and make sure they are up to date with what is actually going on at Naankuse.

My next project was in Madagascar, I was a little out of my comfort zone and although the support on the ground was faultless the guys in the office I found distant, once you were a few weeks off from joining the project and once you were on the project.

I had been warned, albeit after I'd paid my money! that Frontier aren't too client focused and have now found they are actually quite expensive. There were hidden costs in Madagascar for extra food and also Naankuse, which meant missing out as I wasn't informed about it and this made it hard to budget for.

I will say this all the guys working on the projects are very passionate, if sometimes a little complacent.

Frontier need to advertise truthfully and be fully client focused and make sure communication is their top priority. Volunteers are paying a lot of money to join these projects & we should not be made to feel like we are just throwing money away.

Unfortunately I won't be using Frontier again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Mar 31, 2015
Overall:
3
Support:
7
Value:
2

Comments

Hi Verity, Thank you for your comments, we appreciate all constructive feedback that we receive regarding our projects and we are sorry that you feel some aspects of your trip did not meet your expectations. We take 1000s of volunteers to projects every year and while the overwhelming majority have very successful experiences, there are occasionally times when they are not as successful as they could have been, which is why we have a comprehensive communication and feedback process in place between our participants, field teams and office teams. It is a shame that you did not utilise these communication channels and inform your Volunteer Coordinator of your views during your time on either of the projects, as it would have been taken up with the respective field teams to discuss what the issues may have been and whether any alternative measures were necessary, and we are confident we could have resolved any issues had you done so. Frontier is dedicated to providing support to all of our volunteers at all stages of their projects should volunteers need and request it. Thank you for your feedback on the field staff, it’s great to hear that they made such an impression. It sounds like your overall experience was a positive one. If you have anything further to add then please feel free to contact us directly. Thank you again for your feedback and we wish you well for your future endeavours. Kind regards, The Frontier Team

Give a Heart To Africa

This is a review of my three weeks volunteering with Give Your Heart To Africa [GHTA] in Moshi Tanzania.

It was an excellent volunteer experience from the beginning to end. I was met at the Kilimanjaro Airport by the founder and coordinator Monika Fox. The 10 month program itself is for women wanting further education in order to set up a business and become independent. The program has three aspects - English, Vocational Training and Business. It is very well organized with excellent teaching/learning resources. I was involved in teaching English. The woman are enthusiastic, hard working and a joy to teach.

The classes are taught on-site in the mornings from Monday to Thursday. The accommodation for the six volunteers is good and secure. In terms of meals - volunteers are responsible for preparing breakfast and lunch while dinner is prepared every evening.

Overall the founder and coordinator, Monika Fox ensures a well organized and smooth running non-profit volunteer experience.
I would highly recommend GHTA as a meaningful and excellent volunteer experience in Tanzania

Program: TEFL
Location: Africa
Posted: Mar 27, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Conservation Travel Africa

I enrolled in the equine programme and was so excited when I found out I would be riding alongside Judy Travers. She has been a bit of a hero of mine for a while now, and her passion and enthusiasm for Imire and the surrounding community is so undeniable and inspiring!

She assigned us each a horse depending on ability. I got to ride a beautiful pony - Maware - who was a bit green, but we just clicked, and I had the most fantastic time riding her. We would meet Judy in the early morning and set out on our mission for the day. Sometimes it was rounding up cattle, or counting the new babies of wildebeest, or checking on the babies and mums of other herds to make sure everyone was in good health. The cattle rounding was so much fun - you set off with a group of cattle in sight and yoop, whistle and yee-hah until they go in the direction you want. It satisfied every little girl dream I had ever had about becoming a cowgirl all in one session.

The rides out over the Imire property were just breathtaking, and we got to see many areas and sights that you just would not see by vehicle.We could get right up close to the wildebeest herds, and walk quietly past as the sable grazed in the distance. I remember cantering through a beautiful patch of land after a long ride with the others, zebras in the foreground and empala watching on from afar and just thinking 'this is exactly what I had hoped for when I had signed up to Imire.

I am not kidding when I say I could pitch a tent on the vol house lawn and live at Imire forever. The place is incredible. My first impression came as Manyati (the Imire driver) dropped me at the volunteer house. The sunset was literally the most beautiful I had ever seen. Gloria, the dams resident hippo, was yawning with her massive wide open mouth just a hundred or so metres away, the insects were chirping the loudest i have ever heard, and I had already met three awesome volunteers. Catherine and Mike at the vol house were so much fun, and I could listen to their stories forever.

There is no mucking around, each morning we were up at the crack of dawn and getting on with the activities for the day. Might I add here, my first activity was clearing out Tatendas food pen and attaching a 'rhino proof' gate to keep him out… HA! It had a suspicious rhino horn shaped dent in it the next day..

What I loved so much about Imire is that it is not a sugar coated, 'easy' volunteer experience. You really get stuck in and do things that help with the running of the park. I wanted to be able to get a sweat on, and feel like I was truly contributing. We built roads, painted fences, help track wandering animals and so much more. The rewards were being able to spend time up close and personal with the animals, like Tafika the baby rhino and her mum Shanu, or walking the elephants back to their ele-beds, or being diverted to see a massive python after its kill.

I felt particularly privileged to be involved in a huge community project involving Imire, which involved traveling to designated points around Wedza, and administering rabies vaccinations and first aid to up to 3000 dogs. It was awesome to see everyone turn up from afar - through only word of mouth 'advertising' and have their dogs vaccinated. It was difficult at time to see the vastly different conditions the people and animals lived in, but so so awesome to give them education about animal care. Judy was so well respected by these people, I admired her giving them advice on planting crops and preparing for the seasons ahead.

On my final drive out as I was leaving for the airport, the entire journey of giraffe surrounded the driveway (I like to think they were saying goodbye) and all I could think was two weeks was definitely not enough. I am already planning on going back! If you want an experience that fills your soul and opens your mind, and then pours you a beer at the end of the day, go to Imire.. just be prepared to want to go back time and time again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Feb 19, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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