Alicia Bouch - Midwifery in Tanzania
I was 18 and had just begun my a-levels when I spoke to Projects Abroad at a career fair at my school and this inspired me to take part. I arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania early morning in October 2013. I was tired from the journey, but very excited about what was to come over the next two months. I decided to go on a volunteer project to gain some experience in medical care, specifically midwifery prior to going to university. The journey ahead of me, however, was to be so much more than that!
Host Family in Tanzania
I lived with three other volunteers who all worked in the hospital with me and we all walked to work together. We all got on well and I made some friends for life as well as feeling safer and happier travelling around Dar es Salaam during my stay. We were lucky enough to have a very nice, welcoming host family close to the hospital and had lovely, traditional Tanzanian food. Our two host sisters kept us entertained in the evenings and invited us to church with them. Our host mum took us shopping to the Kariakoo Market and really involved us in her daily life, exposing us to the beauty of Tanzanian culture and the people there.
My Midwifery Placement
I was on placement at Mwananyamala Hospital, a government teaching hospital where I had the opportunity to work and speak with a variety of experienced medical personnel, interns and university students. Working in a teaching hospital gave volunteers the opportunity to join students in lessons with their lecturers within the hospital, which was really interesting. Within my rotation, I spent time in the laboratory, minor theatre, surgery, labour ward, paediatric and neonatal wards.
The hospital was a real eye-opener compared to hospitals in England, but was perfect for the experience I had hoped to gain. The labour ward and Surgery were my favourite wards and I spent the most time there.
I also witnessed the deliveries of many other babies including two sets of beautiful twins and complicated breech deliveries. Surgery allowed me to see many caesarean sections as well as other procedures. Asking questions of the doctors and interns was the best way to gain experience as gaining their trust meant they wanted to show us what they know and get us involved.
Outreach and Dirty Days
One of my most enjoyable days in Tanzania was a ‘dirty day’ planned by Projects Abroad. We went to an orphanage where a few of the volunteers ran a sports day for the children. All the children were so polite and bubbly and I really loved the thought that we were helping provide them with an enjoyable day and a distraction from their daily life and the hardships they have.
Projects Abroad also organised outreach programmes for us whereby we went to local schools to do physical health checks on the children and give them vitamin supplements. We also got to play with the children afterwards; it was so funny to see how excited the children got when we gave them balloons and bubbles – they loved it.
Projects Abroad attract a wide variety of volunteers from different countries including Denmark, Holland, Australia, Norway and many more. One of the things I loved was learning words in different languages and comparing our cultures as well as comparing it to Tanzania. I really enjoyed going to movie nights, Swahili lessons and volleyball all organised by Projects Abroad. I especially enjoyed the freedom to organise get-togethers with other volunteers like going to the beach and out for meals.