After researching where we wanted to undertake our three-week elective placement we both agreed that Work the World (WTW) were the safest and most organized option.
We had very good contact with WTW during the pre-departure phase. For any questions or queries we had, someone was always at the other end of a phone call to help and support us. Our ‘MyTrip’ page on the website provided us with all the information we needed in order to prepare us. As soon as we booked our elective, we were given a timeline of tasks to be completed at specific stages. This motivated us through a challenging year of university as we had something to look forward to at the start of our third year.
We arrived at the airport to be greeted by the assistant program manager, who helped us with our luggage and brought us to the WTW house. We were fortunate enough to arrive in a large group. This made our orientation even more exciting as we got to know fellow students from various disciplines whilst all familiarising ourselves with Arusha!
We were really impressed with the WTW house. The atmosphere there was amazing and the staff were so welcoming. It quickly became home as we settled in with everyone immediately. The chef, Witness, is amazing, and even now we're missing her delicious meals and her fun energy already! She also became our day-to-day Swahili teacher...“BOMBA BOMBA!”
Our two lessons of Swahili a week helped us with patients at the hospital and everyday life in Arusha. Mr Lyimo, the Swahili teacher, made every lesson enjoyable as we were always learning songs to help us remember the phrases.
Going back to basics has made us better radiographers and changed our perspective of what it means to be a professional in the healthcare setting.
The placement itself has been a massive eye opener. Practice methods in Tanzania are so vastly different to back home and we were challenged both mentally and emotionally each day. Our radiography skills were pushed to the limit as we were expected to provide quality diagnostic images with technology we had never even experienced before. That being said, going back to basics has made us better radiographers and changed our perspective of what it means to be a professional in the healthcare setting.
We feel as though our elective has changed our view of the world. Being exposed to a low resource setting and the difficulties it brings, we now truly appreciate what it means to live in a country with government funded healthcare and education.The first challenge we were faced with at the hospital was walking into an x-ray department that had no film, apparently for the past week and a half and still awaiting a delivery! To us, this was beyond imaginable, as we couldn't even dream that this problem could even occur back home.
Aside from the hospital placement, our experience in Tanzania as a country has been unforgettable. We've been fortunate enough to visit the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater on safari!
We would strongly recommend this trip to everyone that is thinking of coming to Tanzania. In the afternoons we have canoed at Lake Duluti, experienced an African painting class, and visited Shanga Market and the Cultural Heritage Museum. One weekend, we hiked to a waterfall through several villages. The scenery was breath-taking and gave us an insight into the lifestyle and culture of the local people. Finally, the hot springs were gorgeous. Hidden away from reality, they gave us a day of pure enjoyment and laughter!
Aside from placement and the fun excursions, we've spent time visiting local orphanages and a school. Watching, playing with and talking to these children have been beyond inspiring. Although they have so little, their outlook on life remains positive and their ambition to fulfil their dreams is infectious.
Visiting St. Jude's school has helped us to understand and appreciate the everyday lives of our patients at the hospital placement and the struggles they face in order to survive.
Overall, we've found radiography here to be vastly different to how it is practiced back in the UK. However, we quickly realized that attempting to conduct practice exactly as it is done at home would be both inappropriate and unachievable. We have learnt to accept that practice methods in low resource settings such as Arusha will always be incomparable to radiography at home, perhaps due to the incomparable levels of funding and government support.
Our advice to anyone about to begin their life-changing trip through WTW would be to just approach each day with positivity and open-mindedness.
On a final thought we're so grateful to have been given this opportunity and are extremely thankful to everyone who has helped us get to where we are today. We've made friendships that will last a lifetime. Saying goodbye to our family in Arusha has been very difficult and we have realized that three weeks in Tanzania just isn't long enough!