I heard about Work the World earlier this year through a girl at a student conference who had won a competition to win an elective overseas as part of the Society of Radiographers. Ever since hearing her stories about her time in The Philippines, I couldn't get WtW out of my head, and did all the research I could on this fantastic organisation.
I booked my trip two months later. I picked Dar es Salaam in Tanzania as it was one of the only options available to me as a therapeutic radiographer. I can honestly say it is the best decision I have ever made.
I had brilliant contact with WtW and their pre departure service ‘MyTrip’ page made it extremely easy to keep on top of everything such as vaccinations, flights and check lists before I went. For any questions or queries that I had, there was always someone at the end of the phone to support me and provide me with any information I needed. I counted down the days for months until it finally came, and I was on my way to Africa!
I arrived at the airport in Dar es Salaam to be greeted by a queue the size of a football pitch (well, not quite) to get visas checked. It was a long two hours wait in the airport, especially as I was extremely jet lagged. I came out of customs and was greeted by the smiley face of the Assistant Programme Manager wearing a WtW t-shirt. I was so happy to see him and couldn't wait to get back to the WtW house to meet everyone.
Once I’d arrived at the WtW house, every single member of staff introduced themselves to me and made me feel right at home. It pretty much immediately became home to me as I seemed to settle in right away. I can't thank that staff at the WtW house enough for everything they did for me; smiling faces when I arrived home every day, constant banter - everything was "BOMBA BOMBA SANA!"
Being able to talk about your day with the staff and other students was particularly good; the house became a place for everyone to really share their experiences with everyone else.
The placement itself was the most eye opening and heart warming experience of my life and I don't think I'll ever be able to put it all exactly into words. As expected, Radiotherapy techniques are very different to back home, and I was mentally and emotionally challenged on placement every single day. My skills as a new graduate were pushed to the limit as I was assisting with the treatment machine and helping treat patients straight away. As I was qualified, staff were so grateful of my presence within their department, which made the whole experience really humbling. I even found myself teaching the doctors and head of department a few of our techniques back home which they were amazed by.
Going back to basics has not only made me a better radiographer, but a better person. What I experienced has changed my perspective of what it means to be a healthcare professional completely. As cheesy as this may sound, being in an African hospital helping cancer patients and teaching them about the disease has completely changed my view of the world. The things that I was exposed to and witnessed will never leave my memory and I now truly appreciate what it means to live in a country like the UK.
However, it wasn't all work! Africa has some of the most amazing scenery you will ever see, beautiful savannah safaris, and incredible beaches! I was lucky enough to go on the WtW Safari at Mikumi National Park, which was probably the highlight of my whole trip.
If you're going to go to Africa on an elective, safari is a complete MUST! You'll never experience anything else like it. I sat having my lunch while monkeys climbed into our car to steal our bananas, and elephants just casually walking by like it's no big deal.
I also traveled to Zanzibar on my second weekend, which is Tanzania's version of the Maldives. Beautiful beaches and amazing scenery - we went snorkelling just off the coast.
I also went to visit a local orphanage, where playing and singing songs with the children was beyond inspiring. They have next to nothing but their personalities and their outlook on life is completely infectious.
My advice to anyone thinking of going to do an elective is DO IT. I am such a home girl and had never done anything like this before. I was nervous at the thought of going away but it was 100% the best experience of my life and I cannot recommend Work the World enough. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to take an elective in Africa; I’ve met some of the most incredible people and it has definitely changed both me as a person and my outlook on life. Three weeks wasn’t long enough!