Volunteer Review Alberto Tredese Project in Arusha, Tanzania at Hospital placement (medical project)
1.-How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country. Describe each situation:
Airport Pickup: great, on time, very friendly since the first moment
Orientation day: really useful and well-carried
Work introduction: really “comfortable”, thanks to David and Mark (pharmacy assistant at the hospital)
Friendliness: Iddi has been our “personal angel”, always making sure everything was going well and helping us in every needing, including trips and entertainment; it has also been a pleasure to spend some time together, he is now a big friend. Nelson has been really kind and helpful as well, arranging the safari adventure for all of us and helping me with my personal tour of Tanzania after the programme; he has always been warm and welcoming, I also enjoyed talking with him and sharing experiences.
2- What was the most positive surprise you experienced?
At the program: the friendliness and kindness of the Hospital staff, who welcomed me as a brother since the first moment I got there. I’ve become very close in particular to the anesthetists and the nurses of the Theatre, who showed me how to work in a very tough and resourceless environment.
At the accommodation: the house is great, it has all the facilities like a “western” house, and also… a swimming pool!
About the country: I had the chance to travel not only to Arusha and neighbouring towns, but also to the center of Tanzania, meeting people from other regions, cities and tribes. I loved this country, people are great and friendly, they try to help you anytime, and sometimes I felt even safer here than in my hometown. A big surprise have also been the local kids, who came to me just to play and get to know to the “White man”, smiling and having fun just for my presence, in every city, town or village I visited. Another positive thing I appreciated was the fact that almost nobody smoked cigarettes (probably I saw 2 local people smoking in 40 days).
3- What was most difficult/cultural shock to experience?
At the program: the lack of equipment at the hospital may be difficult to accept in the beginning, hygiene procedures are not the same as we are used to, but this is the best the hospital can provide to patients (and I experienced that they really work hard to do their best with the equipment they possess).
At the accommodation: no difficulties with the accommodation; sometimes the electric power went down for some minutes, and it was an occasion to enjoy dinner with candle light and see the stars more easily!
The country: I travelled a lot by bus and dalla-dalla, and I was not used to travel 170km in 11 hours! Unfortunately, most of the roads are not paved, and buses and means of transport are very old and slow, so if you want to travel just take it easy and enjoy the landscape!
Another “shock” regarded the air pollution: cars and buses are old, and produce black clouds of smoke as they travel; in addition, it was common to find heaps of rubbish on fire along the streets, and if we add the dust, this made the air in the city centre quite difficult to breathe.
My last “shock” regards the impossibility to drink tap wáter.
4- Any tips for future volunteers, give as many details as possible…
Clothing: avoid White clothes, as they get dirty easily! I was in Tanzania in August-beginning of September, and in the evening it can be cold, so bring warm clothes (a fleece and a jumper for me were enough). I personally wore a T-shirt and long or short trousers all the time. If you plan to go the Ngorongoro crater for safari, bring even warmer clothes because in the night it can be quite cold (7-8C).
Donations: I personally did 2 donations to the hospital where I did my volunteering , after the fundraising I did for my graduation party. I did an international bank transfer through my internet banking, everything went well and the money was transferred in 4 days. The Doctor in Charge and the Accountant of the hospital, as well as the Head of the Pharmacy, provided me a list of equipment which was really needed, we calculated the price, I did the bank transfer, and we went together to buy all the drugs and supplies; they also provided me with all the receipts, so I’m sure that every shilling had been used properly.
Weather: I expected the weather to be warmer, but instead it has been a Paradise compared to the weather in Italy at this time. There have been 2 days of mild rain.
4.1-Other things volunteers should know, about what to bring, what to do in country, what to eat, transportation, other:
a.- Follow the advices ABV gives you in the introduction, be open minded and prone to meet new people and doing new experiences. Forget about prejudices and expectations, just live this opportunity the best as you can.
b.- To brush my teeth and to shave I used a jug with tap wáter in which I put chlorine tablets: this way I didn’t waste bottle wáter.
c.- Bring torches, a good repellent (DEET 50% or more), american dollars, an UK electric adapter, hand sanitizers and tissues (they do not sell the ones we are used to, in small packets of 9-10; remember that you won’t find toilet paper everywhere)
d.- Bring a good camera with a 200-300mm zoom objective if you plan a safari. Bring walking poles if you plan to do some trekking (I climbed mt Hanang ad I would have loved to have them).
e.- Bring snacks, sweets and biscuits with you, and be prone to share with kids and people next to you!
f.- Ask Iddi and Nelson advice on what to see and do, they will be very glad and helpful!
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial),
I decided to travel to Africa to do some “volunteerism” in February, during my last year at the University, because I really needed to do something “extra-ordinary”, which could push me beyond the limits of my comfort zone. Also, I was wishing to help someone else thanks to my skills and knowledge.
I found A Broader View Volunteers on the internet by chance or, maybe, or was it was them who found me?! No doubt, it has been one of the most important meetings in my life.
I went to Tanzania with no expectations, simply as open-minded as possible and willing to live every moment at its fullest, putting 110% passion and intensity in everything I was doing. At the end of this period, I can well say it has been a life-changing experience to me, that taught me something more about people, relationships, myself, my life and my future job as a doctor. For sure I will go back there, since I feel that my work here has just started and a piece of my heart will continue beating there forever.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals and security in detail:
The accommodation at the volunteer hostel has been great, there’s plenty of space to live all together and enjoy for example a pool party, a movie, or a barbecue. Nelson and Iddi have always been helpful to make everything go well.
African food is not too different from the “western” style, just the dishes are less variable and you may have rice, noodles and chips as main courses alternatively. There are many “pubs” which prepare good food along the roads at almost anytime of the day, and their menú is pretty much the same (chips, rice, eggs, roasted meat).
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Program: the smile of the pregnant mothers after looking at their newborn children.
Country: I loved the people, they are generally friendly, welcoming and easy-going
Tours: I chose to do a personal tour, after the programme, which I wanted to be close to the local culture, so among all the activities I did, I’ll always remember the day and night spent in a small village in the hills around Katesh, in a real Barbeig hut, made of Wood, Straw and soil.. amazing experience, nothing artificial, just life as it was 2000-3000 years ago!
8.- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling, did you contact them?
Communication (Phone/emails/Online chat/reminders): I communicated with ABV USA only by e-mail, and I got a great support in every phase of my application and confirmation; Sarah in particular has been so kind, helpful and patient to me!
Website Information (easy to find, steps to follow, etc): the website is easy to understand and full of information, anytime I surfed it I felt really comfortable. I appreciated the descriptions of the programs and the reviews by other volunteers.
9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? Absolutely yes!
10 – Can you be specific how did you Search or know about A Broader View? What keywords did you use, what did you search for.
I just googled something like “medical internship volunteer Africa” and got into your useful website.