Going to Tanzania by myself was something I never saw myself doing. But, the entire experience turned out to be better than I could have imagined.
Planning my trip through Work the World made the whole process so much easier and relieved the anxieties I had about making sure I had everything organised.
MyTrip, Work the World’s online placement planner, helped make everything stress free. The phone calls from the team in the UK that lead up to my departure helped to build up my excitement and anticipation.
A member of the Work the World team met me at the airport. Wearing her blue Work the World t-shirt, she was easily recognisable. There were two other students waiting with her, and together, we travelled back to the house.
When we arrived, we took a tour of the house and spent some time settling into our rooms before meeting the rest of the housemates. I was quite shy, and I had some initial nervousness about fitting in. But it turned out that the fears were for nothing—the group of people I lived with couldn’t have been nicer. And over the course of my time in Tanzania I made friends for life.
Those first few steps into the hospital were the most intimidating first steps I have ever taken in my life. But, they were so worth it.
I spent five weeks in my placement hospital, rotating around the paediatrics building, learning about so many different conditions the children had. Many children were inspiring, as they seemed to be in a lot of pain yet always had a smile on their faces. They loved interacting with me, in spite of the language barrier.
The nurses on the wards were friendly and spoke good English. This relieved my nerves straight away. The majority of the wards had incredibly limited resources, but the nurses and doctors were impressively resourceful, and came up with ingenious solutions in situations where equipment wasn’t available.
The hospital environment was challenging from time to time. For example, children were often restrained for certain procedures, and some local nurses were more laid-back than I was used to when it came to knowing which patient was which, or where they were on the ward.
However, I found it useful to remember that I was there to learn and not to judge. I embraced spending time within a different culture of healthcare.
The nurses loved to quiz me about healthcare in the UK and the conditions back at home. Local nurses also seemed to enjoy practicing English with me as I tried practicing my Swahili with them.
There was so much to learn and do at the hospital, and the nurses were more than happy for me to get involved.
There were times when I laughed, and there were times when I cried, and it was all worth it. Some of the worst cases I saw were in the Paediatric Burn Unit. I had never seen such intense burns at home. Some children were burnt from head to toe and were in so much pain, especially when getting their bandages changed. Yet, every day, the children would wait for us to come and play. It never failed to amaze me how lively they were despite their suffering.
Living in the Work the World house with students from so many different backgrounds and cultures was great. At the weekends, we spent our time exploring many of the beautiful places Tanzania had to offer, like the gorgeous islands of Zanzibar and Mbudya.
In the evenings after placement, we played card games, watched films, and sang karaoke on the beach.
There was so much to do in Tanzania it was hard to know what to pick. We quickly discovered that the best people to ask were the locally-hired Work the World team. They couldn’t have been friendlier and were always happy to help, even if we just wanted someone to talk to. One activity all staff suggest was a Safari. I also suggest it!
I can’t recommend a Work the World placement in Dar Es Salaam enough. Even if your nervous about doing it, go for it—you won’t regret it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I would go back in a heartbeat.