Queensland University of Technology 2013
After booking my trip with Work the World, I was hit with a feeling of apprehension – was this trip going to be a recipe for disaster? These feelings were soon replaced by excitement after my first phone call with the Work the World staff. Many phone calls and a smiley airport meeting with Alpha and Mark later, I knew I was going to have the trip of a lifetime!
The Work the World (WTW) house and staff were bigger and better than I could have imagined. The house was in the perfect location and allowed us to easily travel to areas of interest. Rehema is an amazing cook! Every morning we woke up to pancakes and came home from the hospital to smells of spices and stews brewing. There was always too much food, so we always had some left for lunch the next day. The staff in the WTW house were always available to help us at any time. They did everything from helping advise us on booking tickets on the ferry to Zanzibar to calling us a taxi. Being on my own, I was initially nervous about meeting the other people in the house, but after a dinner on the first night I found that we all got on well and I have come home with some amazing friends.
My first day at the national hospital where I was working was a mix of dust, flies and mosquitoes, interesting smells and garbled Swahili! I was taken on a tour of the department and was surprised at the amount of equipment that was there. There were rooms for general x-ray, fluoroscopy, CT, MRI, and ultrasound. All of the equipment was relatively new and in good condition, although some of it was not used to its full potential.
IT WAS FASCINATING TO HEAR EVERY PERSON’S STORY, AND IT MADE ME REALISE HOW LUCKY I AM TO BE ABLE TO LIVE AND STUDY IN AUSTRALIA."
It was very interesting to learn how to process films in the darkroom – I now fully appreciate the value of CR and DR systems in our hospitals! The technique used by radiographers was similar to Australia, but every patient was paying for each examination so it was crucial to get it right the first time. During my time in the hospital, I was able to spend time in each of the rooms and got to know each of the radiographers that worked there. It was fascinating to hear every person’s story, and it made me realise how lucky I am to be able to live and study in Australia.
One of the most confronting aspects of my placement was the level of patient care provided at the hospital. Every member of staff tried their hardest to provide an appropriate level of care to the patients, however, resources were often hard to come by. Radiation protection in the department was scarce, so relatives were often exposed to radiation along with the patient.
In my third week of placement, I travelled out to Melela village to live with Mr Lugato and his lovely family on the Village Healthcare Experience. Although the local health centre did not have any radiographic equipment I learned a lot about the medical practices in rural Africa. It was fascinating to learn about Malaria in the area and help to test the local residents. There is a large population in the area with HIV/AIDS, and we were fortunate enough to be involved in a HIV clinic, informing patients about the ins and outs of their disease.
During my time in Melela, our guide Joshua took us on activities every afternoon. I learned a lot about the Swahili and Maasai culture that I was able to take back to the hospital and apply to my own work as a radiographer. We were involved in a traditional Maasai ceremony with the Morani warriors, we learned how to milk a cow, how to weave a basket and we were even given a consultation with the local witch doctor. I will always be grateful to Mr Lugato, his family and Joshua for making us feel welcome in their homes, and teaching us about their way of life.
Our weekends in Dar es Salaam were never boring! We travelled into the city to experience the hustle and bustle of the carving markets, and also to the idyllic beaches around the house such as Bongoyo, White Sands and Kunduchi. We also took a weekend trip to Zanzibar where we experienced the history of Stone Town, the beaches of Kendwa and the beautiful people living there. We went swimming with the dolphins (and jellyfish!) and had lunch on Prison Island with the tortoises.
After my WTW placement, I continued travelling in Tanzania. I flew to Arusha where I started a safari around Lake Manyara, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Life on safari was very different to the luxuries of the WtW house! We slept in tents surrounded by African wildlife, sometimes a little too close to lions for a good nights sleep! We spent our days travelling the countryside in safari vehicles spotting animals – or trees that we swore looked like a buffalo. After my safari, I began my long trip home after an amazing 5 weeks!
As a student radiographer, I am still developing my own set of radiographic techniques and values with respect to patient care. My placement at the national hospital was a very eye-opening experience and has allowed me to expand on these techniques and values. The four weeks of my trip were both the most challenging and the most rewarding weeks of my life. I am so grateful to the staff in the hospital and Work the World for providing me with this opportunity that I can now share.
I would recommend this experience to any radiography student.