Jambo jina langu ni Laura, Hello my name is Laura.
As part of my midwifery elective and global health module at university I travelled to Tanzania with two of my besties from my course.
I perceive myself to be fairly well travelled, however, I like my luxuries and travelling to Tanzania was nerve wrecking. Work the World couldn’t have been more supportive, they provide an online timeline of what needs to be done when and arrange several phone calls with updates and a departure plan.
We arrived at Dar Es Salaam airport on the Sunday afternoon where we were greeted by a big friendly smile and welcoming hug from a Work the World staff member. We then all packed into the mini bus and headed to the house, where the rest of our housemates were waiting for our arrival.
We met the team that worked at the house, were shown to our rooms and then experienced our first Tanzanian meal, which was a lovely curry. We soon got to know our other housemates, the games we played were good ice breakers. Some of our housemates had been there weeks but we all became family and we are still in contact now. We said goodnight to all and headed to our rooms to get some sleep.
Monday morning, the sun was shining, we could feel the heat through the windows. We went for breakfast, the rest of the house had already left for placement. As new arrivals, it was our induction day, so we got shown the local area, shops, bus stops and the bank. We then got the dala dala (local bus) to our placement hospital, where we were shown the antenatal, labour and postnatal wards. Meeting the sisters and staff made us very excited for what was in store for us.
From then on, we jumped in at the deep-end and got involved in as much as we could. The girls and I mainly observed the labour ward. There were major cultural differences in practice which was hard to observe at times, however, seeing the staff cope and manage with the resources that they had was truly amazing. It actually made me question, do we intervene too early in the UK?
It was a privilege to be placed alongside the Tanzanian midwives. Whilst I was on placement, there were also nurses from New Zealand and the Netherlands, and we all exchanged our knowledge.
TOP TIP from me – always have gloves in your pockets, Tanzanian women don’t tend to give you much warning as to when they are pushing!
The Work the World team helped us soak up the culture, including food, dancing and Swahili lessons at the house, which became very useful when on placement.
On Wednesdays we all got our singing voices on and headed down to CoCo beach for karaoke night with the locals, we had a sing and a dance and enjoyed the company of our new friends. On Thursday nights the Work the World team put on a BBQ, some amazing food and again had a dance.
There were plenty of activities to do in Dar Es Salaam itself, however, a bonus for me being in Tanzania was the opportunity to go on safari. It is an extra cost, but if it’s within budget it is a must. It was one of the most incredible weekends of my life. We also managed to fit in an island trip to Zanzibar before travelling back to the UK.
I made some incredible friends on this trip, from all over the world. I’ll keep in touch with everyone and once we graduate, I think a reunion to celebrate is in order. At times, some of the scenes you see are hard, but the friends you meet will become family and the journey is something you all go through together.
So… if you get the chance, grab this opportunity with both hands and go for it. I promise you’ll regret it if you don’t.