I am writing this review weeks after coming back from my trip to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and I still have a simile as big as it was the day I arrived there. I am not exaggerating to say this was the greatest experience I have ever had in my entire life. It warms my heart every time I think about it.
When people ask me about my experience in Dar, I always have two tales to tell. The tale of the hospital and the tale of Tanzania.
The hospital experience was nothing like what I am used to. Everything was new to me even though I've been practising medicine professionally for four years now.
Practising medicine in a low-resource setting can be hard and challenging. In the first few days I found things kind of difficult! But, then I saw great doctors coming in every day with a smile and the enthusiasm for utilizing whatever was available to help their patients in the best way they can. That gave me the courage I needed to try and do the same, and by the end of my placement, I was able to help many patients despite the difficult circumstances.
Despite all the difficulties, being in such circumstances was very rewarding and gave me a huge feeling of satisfaction.
We did not have any advanced investigations, imaging tools or medications, and even the basic things were in shortage most of the time. I needed to be adaptive, creative and very cautious when using the resources I had. Despite all the difficulties, being in such circumstances was very rewarding and gave me a huge feeling of satisfaction.
Unfortunately, I saw some tragic cases where we lost patients because of the lack of resources and facilities, and it was heartbreaking. But, it also gives you the motivation and the strength to go and do your best to help the next patient.
Patients in Dar are lovely people, even with my bad Swahili we found a way to make small jokes and laugh about it; they have a great sense of humour!
Her words made for any hardship I faced that day, or any of my days there, worth it.
My most memorable moment was when I was about to leave the hospital after a long shift in the ED; an old lady stopped me, shook my hand and in simple English words told me that her asthmatic daughter was feeling much better after I treated her, and she wanted to thank me. Her words made for any hardship I faced that day, or any of my days there, worth it.
The second tale is about my amazing little adventures in Tanzania. Hiking to the breathtaking Sanji Waterfall, seeing the majestic lions in Mikumi National Park, snorkelling at the peaceful Bongoyo Island, cruising on the Indian Ocean, and of course, visiting the beautiful island of Zanzibar were the highlights of my trip.
I can only describe my experience in Dar as unique and unforgettable in every aspect and I definitely would do it again.