Medical Volunteering at the Lifeline Clinic
The aim of this volunteer project is to provide volunteers with a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the medical welfare of the San community and experience unspoiled African wilderness.
Volunteers are key to the success of this special place. All the money raised through our volunteering programme goes directly back into the project which provides employment, healthcare, education and accommodation to the local Bushman community and to ensure the rescue, survival and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured African wildlife.
Namibia truly is a wonderful country to experience, the scenery is spectacular and you will work with a friendly and dedicated team. If you come prepared to learn and to give your best you will be rewarded with a fantastic experience and wonderful memories to take home.
Medical Volunteer Project Details
During the project you will spend your time at a remote clinic in east Namibia. This is located in Omawewozonyanda, a rural village within the Epukiro Constituency of the Omaheke Region in which around 500 San and Herero people live.
From here you will help provide primary healthcare to the local community and surrounding areas by assisting our Doctor and Nurse. The Lifeline Clinic treats around 3,500 patients each year. Approximately 80% of the patients are San, and the remainder are mostly Herero and Damara speaking Namibians.
You will have the opportunity to provide hands-on support at the clinic, checking measurements such as blood pressure, haemoglobin levels and mid arm upper circumference; helping run reception; and helping in the dispensary.
You will deal closely with patients from the local San community, learn more about their way of life and give care to patients living in extreme poverty at the clinic’s remote location.
Your arrival and departure base will be the Wildlife Sanctuary, near Windhoek Airport, so if you wish you can also have the unique opportunity to work with the animals at the Sanctuary for a week or two. The Lifeline Clinic is approximately a 4 hour drive from the sanctuary and we will arrange all your transfers ahead of time.
Our aim is to provide volunteers with the wonderful opportunity to experience African wilderness in the knowledge that you are contributing to improving the lives of the people of Namibia.
The clinic is dedicated to the health and welfare of the San Bushman community. The San are considered to be the oldest culture in the world and are traditionally hunter gatherers. They have been forced from their original lands,
which are increasingly being used for grazing cattle, leaving the San unable to survive in their traditional lifestyle. Bushman are treated as third class citizens and live in extreme poverty. The project owners are committed to improving the lives of the San community through education, healthcare and better living conditions. Their aim is to give the next generation of this poverty stricken community the education, healthcare and help they need to survive and build a brighter, healthier future.
The Doctor and Nurse, with the support of San translators, treat around 3,500 patients every year. Approximately 40% are children and 70% of these are under 5 years old. TB and HIV are prevalent in the community as is alcoholism. They also see a lot of patients with aches and pains, and everyday problems. Common diseases amongst the child patients include fungal infections, intestinal worms, diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition and mouth infections (e.g. oral thrush). By themselves, these infections and illnesses may not be particularly severe, however if left untreated they will get much worse leading to complications and in severe cases even death.
In addition to working at the Lifeline clinic, our Doctor also carries out regular outreach clinics at local schools, resettlement villages and farms.
They also run a Community Health Worker scheme which focusses on teaching members of the community the basics of first aid and general health care in order for them to impart this to their communities.
In December 2010, the Lifeline Clinic received recognition at the International Health Promotion Awards. At the ceremony in Rome, Italy, the owners were awarded first place in the prestigious Community Health Awards. They are also privileged to have the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Richard Kamwi, as patron of the clinic.
What you'll be doing as a Medical Clinic Volunteer
At our rural clinic in the remote area of Epukiro you will work alongside the clinic’s Doctor and Nurse to learn about the common diseases affecting the local population and how to treat them. You will deal closely with patients from the local San community, learn more about their way of life and give care to patients living in extreme poverty at the clinic's remote location. The teaching will be tailored to your skill level, background and knowledge.
Gain practical experience pre-medical school.
Prospective medical students can expect teaching on basic clinical skills, history taking and examinations of patients. Trained professionals will be asked to run consultations with patients and assist during the outreach work. This will provide a great opportunity for trained professionals to have a greater impact on the people who are at most in need of help.
Depending on the length of your stay and medical knowledge, you may be asked to undertake a research project/assignment. This should be something that you are interested in, as well as be something that is useful to the clinic and of benefit to our patients. Examples of projects include mapping distances patients travel to the clinic and local patterns of disease, rates of TB amongst our patients and compliance with medication, and the patients' knowledge of HIV transmission and disease.
Whatever your background or experience, you shall assist with the daily duties which may include:
- Primary Healthcare: observations, reassurance to patients, treatments and emergency referrals
- Observations: pregnancy tests, and urine tests for patients and recording findings
- Weighing babies and recording growth charts
- Blood pressure recordings
- Glucose testing and recording
- Wound dressings and cleaning of wounds
- Help in the pharmacy: stock control, packing medicines and new orders
- Family planning
- Substance abuse counselling
- Data capture input
- Accompanying the nurse into the community to carry out procedures
- General maintenance and cleaning of the clinic
- Helping with projects around the clinic such as the vegetable garden
Volunteers often have special skills that are invaluable to the clinic and we encourage you to use them and suggest new activities that you feel the project will benefit from.
Wildlife Sanctuary Add On
This project also offers the rare and exciting opportunity to help care for orphaned and injured African wildlife.
The sanctuary currently provides a safe refuge for orphaned and injured wildlife including a number of lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, caracals and baboons. Our Wildlife Volunteers provide an important resource in caring for and feeding the animals on a daily basis, helping to maintain and develop the sanctuary and becoming surrogate parents to our orphaned baby baboons, bottle feeding and sleeping overnight with them. Take a look.
Food and Accommodation
While volunteering at the Lifeline Clinic you will stay in a bungalow house along with the resident Doctor and Nurse. Depending on volunteer numbers, you will have a room to yourself or share with one other of the same gender. The house has a kitchen, bathroom and living room (with TV). Electricity and hot water are freely available.
You will receive three meals each day which you shall prepare yourself together with your housemates. The evenings are yours to relax from approximately 5pm, as well as weekends. Free time can be spent visiting the local San Bushman village, playing with the local children or walking in the local area.
"After countless years of constantly dreaming about visiting Africa I was finally able to volunteer in a medical capacity. I find it COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE to even try to put the significance of this experience in words. This was without a doubt the apex of my adventures in preparation for medical school, mainly because of the insight I obtained into the lack of a health care system in places of extreme poverty and the opportunity of meeting people like my amazing mentor Dr. Sarah France and all the San and Herero People living at Epukiro.."
Miguel Ernesto Velez, Puerto Rico – Medical Volunteer, June 2011