I stumbled across the Work the World (WTW) website after researching companies with whom I could travel abroad. I had been dying to go to Africa and my final summer before graduation seemed like the perfect time to visit.
Most of my friends had summer jobs as undergraduate nurses or health care aides. For me, WTW seemed like the perfect opportunity to get my own nursing experience with the additional benefit of a vacation. In all honesty it almost seemed too good to be true and I internally questioned if the company was legitimate. It seems there are a lot of scams on the Internet for volunteering or studying abroad these days. But let me reassure you, from personal experience, that Work the World is the real deal! I was able to have the most amazing month of my life in Tanzania.
I chose to go to Dar es Salaam because of its coastal location. After a week of placement, it was nice to head to the beach or take a short ferry ride to Zanzibar where you could swim with dolphins or snorkel in crystal blue water. That being said, I was also very glad that I decided to do the Village Healthcare Experience. Dar es Salaam is a very large city, and though still very different from home, the village of Melela was where I was able to obtain a more rural African experience.
We were all from various parts of the world and it was fun comparing differences
There is so much to say about my three weeks in Dar es Salaam, but I will try and keep it short. First off, the staff were fantastic. They were so friendly and fun and made sure that we felt safe and well taken care of. The food was pretty good and there were lots of local restaurants if we craved some pizza, fries, burgers, sushi or steak. I became very close with other students in the house. We were all from various parts of the world and it was fun comparing differences in education, healthcare systems, and culture.
As for placement itself, I chose to work in the regional hospital. I spent one week in Paediatrics and two in the Labour Ward (commonly referred to as the Baby Factory). In Paediatrics I learned about tropical diseases like malaria, which is a common reason for admission. I observed the ward rounds, assisted with cleaning, held babies and played with the children. In Maternity I watched numerous deliveries, including a C-section; gave APGAR scores; learned how to swaddle newborns, weighed them, took their vital signs and labeled them. The nurses were very open to Work the World students doing clinical skills and were happy to let us try to improve on the skills we learned back home whenever we asked.
Though an overall positive experience, I sometimes saw things in the hospital regarding differences in practice and culture that were challenging to see. These situations, though difficult at the time, will undoubtedly serve to make me a better nurse in the future. I learned about flexibility and adaptability, about evaluating my own morals and ethics and being confident in my knowledge base and my skills.
I am so grateful that I stumbled across Work the World! I could not have asked for a better experience and I truly miss Tanzania everyday.