Turning 30? Recently married? Doctor in the UK? Only got 2 weeks holiday but want to do something amazing with your husband and your sister in Africa?
Well, that’s exactly what medical volunteerKatie Evans has just returned from, and here’s what she had to say:
” I wanted to volunteer so that I could try and make a small difference.”
“We were not straight forward – we tried to coordinate 3 of us getting time off work and volunteering together. Pat was a tremendous help, nothing seemed too much trouble for her. She was patient with all our enquiries; spoke to the Livingstone project leaders to adapt the pick up times to fit in with our days of leave. She was always on hand – even at weekends. I cannot thank her enough, she was an absolute star! We owe the success and enjoyment of our trip to her support and hard work, so thank you.
I was only able to go for 2 weeks and I was afraid that the time would be too short for me to fully feel a part of it. I couldn’t have been more wrong! The project leaders and other volunteers immediately made me feel at home; I came away having made friends for life. The projects were so well organised and everyone was so enthusiastic. I wanted to volunteer so that I could try and make a small difference. The set-up there really makes you feel you have helped.
But more importantly, I think the local Zambians helped me. Their spirit and cheerfulness, despite having relatively little, really taught me what to appreciate in life. It was a really refreshing break from the hecticness of life in England. My best part was visiting the old people’s home and bringing some fun and laughter into their otherwise quiet lives. We made musical instruments with them and then proceeded to play them along to some music, as well as dancing and singing. I am ashamed to say they had far better rhythm than me!
The whole set-up was incredibly well organised, the project staff were friendly and helpful and the projects were well run. It was great to have the mix of doing the medical volunteering in the morning and then the varied activities in the afternoon (either reading clubs, art clubs, activities at the old people’s home, etc). The pre-departure information from Amanzi Travel was also excellent, I felt very prepared, especially with the visas and packing information.
The medical project was valuable because we were able to take vitals/do baby weighing, etc that enabled the nurses to be free to see patients. As a qualified doctor I did not practice medicine out there because I had not applied to the Zambian government to do so. However, I still found the medical project incredibly useful and interesting. I think practicing medicine may have made me more of a hindrance initially because I did not know how the system worked and what drugs, etc are available. By being a medical volunteer I was able to help with some of the nurses tasks that then freed them up to do the assessments. On the home-based care visits I think bringing analgesics to those who are isolated from clinics meant that they had at least some limited access to medications. We were also able to initially assess them and suggest whether we felt they should go to a clinic.
I absolutely loved my time in Livingstone!
Livingstone is ideally located next to Victoria Falls so there is so much to see and do in your free time. I celebrated my 30th birthday whilst out there and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate. A helicopter ride over the Falls was amazing – as was walking alongside it – we got absolutely drenched! I would highly recommend this volunteer placement, and hope to be able to go back some day.”
Do something amazing today 🙂