Nursing student Maria Middleton impressively fundraised enough money to cover her entire elective to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We caught up with her to discuss exactly how she managed to achieve this alongside her studies. and the advice she would give to others thinking of doing the same.
Hello Maria! Firstly, why did you choose to take your nursing placement with Work the Work, and in Dar es Salaam?
Even before I started my Nursing course, I had always wanted to go to Africa. When the time came to do my elective, I knew it was my chance to go! Work the World was an obvious choice – a lot of people I spoke with in university in the years above had already travelled with them, and no one had a bad comment. I spoke on the phone with a member of the WtW team, who helped me pick which destination in Africa to go to. Dar es Salaam offered the best for my interests – I want to specialise in oncology and I was told this was one of the best destinations for it.
What inspired you to undertake the task of self-funding your entire trip?
As most students will know, money is tight when you’re studying! I was just really determined to go to Dar es Salaam, and so I did everything I could to get there. I’ve always been a determined person, and was taught that if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it. So that’s exactly what I did.
Talk us through the process of getting funding. How did you start?
The first thing I did was read through the fundraising section on the WtW website, taking bits of information and advice and expanding upon these. This inspired me to write a letter, which I sent to a range of companies from M&S and Boots to local finance companies and rotary clubs. I outlined exactly how much money I needed and what it was for, and essentially asked for support. This helped me get a couple of sponsorships, and actually snowballed into my story being published in my local paper. I also set up a Go Fund Me page where people could donate smaller amounts, and put this all over my social media pages.
We also heard you put on some events?
Yes! I used to be a dancer and so know quite a lot of people in the entertainment industry. I organised a charity event where I had two professional singers come down, hired a venue, put on a big buffet and had a good time! People paid entry to get in, knowing what the money was going towards, and so I made quite a lot of money there.
think small, and don’t let the scale of the project faze you. Take baby steps, and see where they go.
I also made lots of crafts and sold these when and where I could. Because I was doing the majority of my fundraising around Christmas, we managed to shift a lot of cards. Again, we made sure that people knew that their money was going towards a good cause, which I think made them more likely to contribute.
What were the main challenges you faced in this process?
The main challenge I would say was organising everything alongside my university study. Every spare bit of time I had was either spent making crafts, sending letters out via email or post, or organising events. Trying to get an equal balance was really hard, but definitely paid off. I got to Dar and had an amazing time.
What would you say to other students who are embarking on funding their elective, and might not know how to go about it?
I would say think small, and don’t let the scale of the project faze you. Take baby steps, and see where they go. It’s vital you’re determined and keep going despite any negativity you might face. If something doesn’t work, try something else! Also, tap into something that you’re genuinely interested in or good at – for me it was music, entertainment and crafts – that way you’re less likely to get bored, and will probably create something worth attending or buying. Use your strengths and connections, whatever they might be!