Landing in Zambia was nerve-wracking.
I arrived with two friends from university and was due to meet another two at the Work the World house. But this didn’t help with the nerves, it was my first time in Africa after all.
As we left the airport we saw a member of the Work the World team waiting for us. He instantly made us feel welcome. As we travelled together to the house, I was amazed at the beauty of my surroundings.
I couldn’t believe how stunning the house was. When we pulled up in the taxi, the first thing I noticed was the pool! The rest of the Work the World team were waiting outside and they were all so friendly and welcoming. We had a lovely welcome dinner on the first night where we got to meet the other students staying in the house.
Little did we know this was the start of a brilliant adventure.
The hospital took a little time to settle into—the standards were not what we were used to back home. There were lots of beds crammed into small rooms, no real privacy, but everyone just seemed to get on with it.
It felt like what the NHS might have been like years ago. But local healthcare staff made the best of each situation. The medical professionals were experts at utilizing the few resources they did have.
Striking differences in practise appeared all over the hospital. For example, I witnessed a ‘professional first’ approach in their practise, which differed from the patient-centered care we offer in the UK.
When it came to equipment (or lack thereof) there were no electronic beds, no hoists or steadies, no chairs... It really opened my eyes to how lucky we have it back home. That said, even without this basic equipment everyone continued without complaint. People were always smiling.
I spent a lot of time with different physiotherapists treating a variety of patients throughout the hospital, and I was shocked at how infrequently patients could afford things like a pair of crutches or an X-ray. They cost about 100 Kwacha (£8).
Zambia was a beautiful country. I visited Victoria Falls during my stay and words cannot describe how beautiful the falls were. You must visit them—they will make your trip unforgettable.
We canoed down the Zambezi River and saw a herd of elephants swimming in the river—what an experience! The elephants were beautiful and seeing them was the highlight of the weekend according to all who were present.
At the end of the placement a few of us stayed on for a safari, and it was worth it. Having the opportunity to go on a few game drives was brilliant. We had such an amazing time and were fortunate enough to see two male lions and a leopard.
I had the time of my life in Zambia, the people were amazing, the country was beautiful, and the friendships made will last a lifetime. Go and enjoy this beautiful country!