Completing my physiotherapy placement in Zambia was a truly amazing experience. For what was three short weeks over there, I genuinely feel like I made the absolute most of every day and learnt so much along the way.
In the hospital, things are run very differently to back home in Australia. Treatments which might be considered outdated in Australia, such as skeletal tractions for a fractured femur, are still common in Zambia due to insufficient resources to be able to perform more complex procedures.
The best thing about my placement, was the opportunity to have 1 on 1 time with patients. I was able to assist with full assessments and treatments, ranging from stroke patients, patients with a rotator cuff tear and orthopaedic patients, amongst others.
The physiotherapy staff were amazing – I still keep in touch with a few of them today! They are really interested in your lives, are always there to provide assistance or feedback during a consultation and love to laugh.
My time outside of the hospital was incredible. The rest of the group staying in the Work the World house was great; we would always do group activities all together in the afternoons. Some notable highlights include visiting a school and donating school furniture, doing a ‘Paint and Sip’ session and going out for drinks at a bar.
However, the weekend trips were the best by far. We spent a weekend in Livingstone which was honestly the best weekend of my life. We went white water rafting, on a safari, bungee jumping, on a sunset cruise and visited Angel’s Pool. It was unreal. On another weekend, we visited Kafue National Park and stayed in Mukambi Lodge. We went on another safari, another sunset cruise, ate incredible food and drank drinks to the sound of ABBA at night. I can’t recommend these two locations highly enough.
The Work the World team were truly amazing. The catering team cooked amazing food each and every day and were such great fun to talk to. Everyone was so thoughtful, fun loving and they cared for each and every student, helping to suggest trips, check in on us at the hospital to see that we were OK, and they created a culture which made the house feel like a home. The housekeeping team were also amazing at keeping the house spotless.
I also spent one week on the Village Healthcare Experience in Chirundu, a rural town. I stayed with a host family. They were so, so lovely and welcoming, and they made the extra effort to cook different foods than they normally would to suit my dietary requirements. They would give me recommendations of things to do, and would often accompany me on my day activities (which were absolutely incredible; some highlights were watching and joining in on traditional dancing, basket weaving and cooking lessons), we would also often go for a few beers after dinner.
This family’s outlook on life and their generosity was truly humbling and inspiring. They are an incredible family who have really made me reflect on and appreciate my circumstances in life. My Work the World guide, was also great; she was always checking to see how I was and led me through all of the daily activities.
The Work the World team were so organised, considerate and clear in their instructions in the lead up to the program. They made it extremely easy and straightforward to book, gave me all of the necessary details and helped to tailor the program to meet my individual needs. I never felt unsafe or unsure throughout. The program went so smoothly and was designed brilliantly, so I cannot thank the team enough for setting it up and delivering it effectively.
When I first arrived in Zambia, I was a little bit unsettled and nervous about being there, living in a house with strangers. This feeling very quickly disappeared, and I ended up having the time of my life. Everything about the program was incredible. As such, I cannot recommend travelling to Zambia through Work the World highly enough.
Overall, I learnt a lot about myself, what I value in life, and how I should approach each day with positivity and optimism. That is the biggest thing I took from this experience. I am more thankful than ever for my circumstances in Australia. I gained great exposure to physiotherapy, met some truly amazing people and visited an amazing part of the world in which I now have memories that will last a lifetime.