Jambo Bwana! Medical Volunteering in Tanzania
Home to Africa’s highest mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro – and Lake Manyara with its tens of thousands of elegant Flamingos. The incredible Ngorongoro Crater boasting the largest intact caldera in the world, it shelters one of the most beautiful wildlife havens anywhere, with a permanent population of more than 30 000 animals. Of course the unimaginable beauty and rawness of the Serengeti and its migration of millions of Zebra and Wildebeest across its savanna, rivers and waterholes. But best of all there is the opportunity to spot the Big 5 – lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant.
With a rich tapestry of culture and home to more than 120 different tribes the most famous are the tall slim nomadic Masai herdsmen and warriors, feared by neighbouring tribes. Medical volunteering in Tanzania is available in Moshi and Mwanza.
Medical Volunteering in Tanzania
For many Tanzanians, proper healthcare is neither readily accessible nor affordable due to widespread poverty in remote villages and the poorer urban areas. We have access to hospitals in Moshi and Mwanza which have very basic equipment, limited facilities and experienced volunteers are badly needed. Medical students and nurses are also very welcome on this program. Some hospitals and clinics have departments including a laboratory, pharmacy, maternity, family planning, radiology, ultrasound and dentistry.
Medical volunteers should be prepared to work in unfamiliar circumstances – for example, a surgery with minimal equipment, an understaffed hospital, or a clinic for HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis patients. There is a maternity clinic where volunteers may assist local nurses in the labour room, give vaccinations to newborns and treat mothers and their children who attend the clinic.
Our first surgical team landed in Tanzania and reported back on their ‘unforgettable experience’. In their two week tour of duty they performed around 30 general surgical operations (mainly total or partial thyroidectomies and a mastectomy) – some patients had been waiting for
treatment for many years. One of our young doctors assisted an obstetrics team in theatre during her two week stint. Another volunteer doctor delivered training sessions in cardiology to local medical students at one of the large teaching hospitals in Tanzania.
Education is highly valued in Tanzania. Volunteers can help broaden the horizons of the local children, exposing them to the English language as spoken by a native or very fluent English-speaker. Children in Tanzania love to go to school, and may attend from the age of 3 until 14 years of age.
Volunteers can work alone or alongside other teachers and volunteers. Subjects include English, Maths, Science, Art and Physical Education. There may be up to 80 children in each class and volunteers therefore assist the local teachers, provide individual attention to the children, and sometimes relieve the teacher. You do not need to be qualified or have previous teaching experience to volunteer on this program and you will be provided with materials to help you prepare.
There are a huge number of orphans that are left behind after their parents die from illnesses such as HIV/AIDS. Tanzania has a family-oriented culture and therefore orphans tend to be looked after by extended families or neighbours. The additional children put a huge strain on their new family and so the orphans are sent to ‘orphanages’ each day for food and education. Thus children usually do not live at the orphanage and are only there for a few hours in the day. Volunteers may be asked to help with teaching, feeding, caring and general running of the orphanage.
Accommodation and Orientation
Volunteers are accommodated in a guesthouse or accommodation on the hospital campus that is set aside for visiting medical professionals. Conditions are basic however all have access to electricity and running water. Couples and families will be co-located and are very welcome.
You will be met on arrival at Kilimanjaro or Mwanza Airport and transferred to your accommodation. The next morning there will be orientation covering everything you need to know to help you settle in. On the weekends you are free to explore the local area and embark on an amazing safari.
Afterwards, travel further afield to visit Zanzibar and its capital, Stone Town, which are known famously for spice trading and its slave market. It was considered by the wealthy Arab Sheiks and the African Landlords as the best market because of its location, quality slaves and fair price. Today it is a magical Tanzanian Island with beautiful beaches and a variety of foods to die for.
For more details about Medical Volunteering in Tanzania: