My four week elective placement in Dar es Salaam was, without a doubt, the best month of my life and incomparable to anything I have ever done.
From the team at the Work the World house to the nurses at the hospital, I felt welcomed into such a beautiful and friendly country. Right from the start, I knew I was going to love Tanzania (apart from the heat)! The experience was extraordinary and opened my eyes to the other side of the world.
During my four week placement, I split my time across the paediatric department, which included being in theatre, the burns unit, oncology and PICU.
It was crazy witnessing the differences between the hospital in Tanzania compared to the hospital I train at back in the UK. It was undoubtedly eye-opening and shocking at times. Particularly the fact that parents of the children were required to supply their own equipment. This included items such as saline, bandages, and creams for wound dressings.
Seeing it for yourself, I believe, is what makes it such an individual and unique experience that will stay with you forever.
Whilst on the paediatric burns unit, I witnessed the aftermath of an awful event that led to a little girl to have irreparable damage to both of her eyes after her dress caught alight. I also saw a 2-year-old on PICU with 46% of his body burnt due to oil. Many of these injuries occur at home due to lack of supervision. Despite this, it was amazing to see how happy the children on the ward were, even in times of pain they were always smiling and overjoyed to see us when we arrived on the ward.
I am entirely grateful for being able to witness this firsthand as it is not something you can explain to others. Seeing it for yourself, I believe, is what makes it such an individual and unique experience that will stay with you forever.
The support I had whilst in the house was great, we always had a laugh with the Work the World team. My housemates and I became our own little family, we were all from different backgrounds and countries and therefore learnt a lot from each other.
When not on placement, we had so much fun exploring Dar es Salaam and the amazing islands Tanzania has to offer, which the team at the house offered their advice on.
One of my highlights was a four hour bike tour around the city where we got to see the ‘real’ Dar es Salaam, it was extremely eye-opening and sometimes shocking, but again the locals were always happy to see us. We also went on a safari where we got to see the most amazing animals, an experience I will never forget, particularly as I took so many photos. On our last weekend, five of us went to the magical island of Zanzibar where we got to experience so many once in a lifetime opportunities, especially swimming with dolphins in the Indian ocean during sunset. Truly amazing.
The weekly BBQs at the house definitely stand out. We would all learn traditional African dances (I finally got the hang of them on the last week) and go swimming in the pool. Along with karaoke on a Wednesday night.
My time in Tanzania has made me really value the NHS. It has definitely changed my outlook on healthcare and made me grateful for what I have. The children I have met are truly inspirational. I feel truly fortunate that I was able to be a part of putting a smile on these beautiful children’s faces.