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Kenya Medical

Volunteer on one of our medical placements in Kenya

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Make a difference in Kenya

Use and develop your medical training whilst helping people in real need in an African clinic.

As a medical volunteer, you will be working in a clinic or hospital supported by Agape, helping to lessen the burden on the stretched resources of the medical service. You must have completed at least one year of medical school, or be a qualified nurse or doctor, in order to take part. You will spend your first few days shadowing the duty doctor and learning African techniques before beginning to perform procedures under supervision.

Once you feel comfortable working independently, you will be carrying out a wider range of duties.

Once you feel comfortable working independently, you will be carrying out a wider range of duties.

General responsibilities for medical volunteers include taking rounds, prescribing and distributing basic medicines, dressing wounds and assisting births. Working with HIV sufferers will be a key part of your duties, monitoring patients as they pass through five levels of treatment, and giving them your support. Tuberculosis is also a widespread disease, and you will be assisting in its diagnosis and treatment.

You are likely to spend some time working in the trauma unit, treating minor injuries. At night, the clinics become maternity wards where labour is often induced, and you will be invited to assist in these procedures as well, with the option of staying at the clinic overnight. These shifts can run until daybreak, but despite that, the hard work it is a fantastic and incredibly rewarding experience.

 

Breakfast and dinner will be provided for you with your host family. Breakfast will probably be bread, butter, jam, eggs and chai, a type of African tea, but this varies by the day. Kenyan food often has an Indian influence, and dinner consists of rice, beans, mixed vegetables, chapatis, ugali and stewed meat.

You are encouraged to try out the local vendors and stalls near your placement for lunch; they provide food very cheaply and you will be promoting Agape’s support for the community, as well as having the opportunity to sample local cooking. However, your host mum will provide you with a packed lunch if you prefer, just ask your host on the day. It is recommended that you drink only bottled water during your stay, which is available in most shops. If you have any special dietary requirements, do let us know and your host family will be informed.

You will be living in volunteer groups near your placement. You will be living in either 'host-family' accomodation or in a 'volunteer-house.' Both will provide beds, a mattress, pillows and sometimes a mosquito net, but you should bring your own sleeping bag. In line with the Christian values in most Kenyan households, your host family may expect you to sleep in single sex rooms.  Volunteer houses vary, but you can make a request for a single-sex room. All of our home-stays in Nairobi have electricity but very few have running water, instead using drainage pipes and water tanks stored inside the house. All our host families are exactly that; families, so there may be some house rules that you will be given when you arrive.
Within a day of arriving in your home-stay you will receive the Agape Volunteers orientation. This is explained in much more detail in the information pack, but the general idea of this is to make sure that you are as prepared as is possible for your stay in Africa. It explains things like culture, customs, language and how to stay safe on a day to day basis. This also gives you a chance to meet other volunteers who you might not be staying with.

All Kenyan and Masai volunteers recieve two extra trips included in their volunteering costs.

The first of these is the IDP outreach trip. IDP stands for "internally displaced person" and these camps are a hangover from the 2007 election violence where thoudands of people were made homeless. Unfortunately, since then for whatever reason these people have not been able to retuen to their communities and still live in tented camps spread out accross the central African Rift Valley. The conditions in these camps are not good and unfortunately since the UN withdrew in 2009, Agape Volunteers are one of the only full time aid organization operating in these areas. We run a food outreach trip every two weeks where we travel to the camp to distribute food and gerneral supplies and a medical trip around every month, where medical supplies are distributed with the help of local doctors. As part of your volunteering fees you will take part in one of these trips if you want to that is. Most volunteers describe it as their most striking memory from their stay in Kenya but also as the point at which they felt most useful. Agape Volunteers is committed to continuing these outreach trips but is also investing in longer term solutions to the problem, which include the building of a school, completed in 2010 and a hospital, due for completion this year.

The second trip is the city tour. On one of your free wekend days in Kenya you are entitled to a free tour around the city of Nairobi with other volunteers. As part of this trip you will visit the monkey park, animal orphange, crocodile park, elephant sanctuary and some beautiful city parks. There is a nice lunch included too, provided by your host family, but as this is taken in the monkey park, you will have to guard it with your life!

You don't need to worry about organizing either of these trips as one of members of staff will be in contact about them once you have settled in.

Your day will begin at the clinic at 9am. After discussing the day ahead with the local staff, you will be assisting with rounds, assessing new patients and checking the conditions of any overnight patients. Any treatment will be done by the local doctors or under their supervision at first, but as you progress you will increasingly be allowed to work unaccompanied.

After getting lunch with the other clininc staff, you may be asked to assist on major procedures which sometimes take place in the afternoon. It is unlikely that you will play a major role in these, but if a doctor thinks you are capable, he will ask for your help.

The clinics usually close around 5pm, and medical volunteers usually either help out with games at another Agape project or return to their host families. Dinner is back with your host family before games with the other volunteers and then bed around 10pm. If you are assisting with a birth, these shifts will usually start at around 9pm.

There are plenty of optional extras you can choose to include in your trip. At the weekends, you can get involved with lots of activities taking place in and around the city. Teaching at Saturday school is optional for volunteers, and usually involves lots of games rather than serious lessons. You can explore the Maasai markets, and take advantage of the city tour of Nairobi included in your programme fee.

Your host family will also have good recommendations for places you can visit. Most families will attend church on Sundays, and whilst this is optional, they may invite you to try it. 

For more extended trips, you can visit the spectacular Fourteen Falls, go to Diani Beach near Mombasa, visit National Parks and even climb Mt Kenya. Most of our volunteers also choose to take a safari, which is an unparalleled experience in some of Africa’s most beautiful parks. It is available to our volunteers at a reduced rate from the tourist prices. You can find more information about all of these optional extras in our information booklet, and once you get to Kenya. Second to this, after you have booked, your trip adviser will ask you if there are any other trips that you would like to take whilst you are volunteering.

 

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