Zuyd Hogeschool 2014
I knew I wanted to be a midwife when I was only six years old. Thus when I got accepted at a midwifery academy, a dream had come true. Another childhood dream was to go to Africa and work in a low resource environment in some capacity. But when was the best time to go? After qualification? Perhaps after my first year? And should I go alone or with an organisation?
I had a lot of questions and I searched online for hours. Soon, I found Work the World, which I really liked. My search started in my first year, but I decided to go after my second year as that would be the best time to put a pause on my university commitments and I would have learned most of the theory on my chosen discipline. So, with the help of Work the World, I had it booked a year before I wanted to go.
When I was in second year, I had forgotten about it until a friend of mine went to Africa. Then I remembered my dreams. I organised my trip in April, and I was really excited about it! I chose Work the World because they are specialised in healthcare placements, and I really wanted to go with an organisation, as I would be venturing into an unknown land.
My country manager, Sabine, was really kind and was always available to answer any of my questions. I had to arrange my trip on quite short notice, having to leave within ten weeks from the start of my preparations. However, the ‘MyTrip’ webpage was a very helpful tool at that time because it allowed me to see what I had to do, ticking off all the requirements as I completed them.
So, after ten weeks it was time to leave for Africa! Sabine called me the week before I left to make sure I had packed everything and that my mind was at ease. At the airport arrivals, Mohammed, a Work the World representative, picked me up. At the house, the staff made me feel so welcome. There was a pool to relax and nice, comfortable bedrooms. The first few days were great to get used to the climate, the house, and the other people in the house. If you come alone, don't worry because it is quite easy to make new friends!
On the Monday, I had my orientation, which was great. I met my supervisor at the delivery ward, went to the shop nearby and had a traditional African lunch. On Tuesday I officially started my placement. In four weeks I assisted in the delivery of 16 babies, which included two pairs of twins. I have seen breech delivery, babies who needed to be resuscitated and mothers with eclampsia.
After placement it was great to relax at the pool, have a drink with the other people in the house or go out for the afternoon. There is a great market nearby, or you can go to a beach resort to enjoy the sun and the sea. During the weekends I went to Zanzibar twice. I really recommend it; it's an amazing island! It has white beaches, turquoise sea and great food! It’s also a good idea to get a hotel at Paje beach to enjoy the island to the fullest extent.
One of the best memories is the Tanzanian wedding of the caterer at the Work the World house. I was the only one left that particular weekend and the staff took me to the wedding. I had a great night and it was awesome to feel like I was part of a different culture.
If you're having doubts about a placement abroad or volunteering abroad, stop doubting! Please do it, as it will change your life forever. You will see so many things you won't see at home and you can really make a difference. It will make you richer as a person, but also as a professional. Open your heart to the African way of life, and carry Africa with you forever!