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I’d always wanted to travel to Africa - Namibia Medical Clinic

I’d always wanted to travel to Africa - Namibia Medical Clinic

Author -  Tim Mallett

What made you decide to do your trip?
I’d always wanted to travel to Africa (see Peter Mathieson’s “The tree where man was born”), but work and family commitments meant it wasn’t possible until this year. I’d also read James Suzman, “Affluence without Abundance”, where he describes his years living with the San bushmen in Namibia and Botswana, and their current plight. I wanted to meet the San people, but not as a tourist watching them sing and dance, I wanted to actually meet them as people, and hear about their lives.
So I searched through lots of volunteering sites, and found International Working Holidays had a programme called “volunteering over 40”, which sounds ideal. And they had a programme that involved volunteering at a Medical clinic for San people.
0Tim Mallett Namibia Medical Clinic IWH.png

How long did it take you to decide to book – what made you finally do it?
It took about a month of research, looking at all the volunteering websites, reading reviews, asking questions. We learned that there were some unethical websites out there, that sounded good at first, but when I researched further they were a bit dodgy (the “walking with lion cubs”, for example.) But IWH linked in with the project I chose and others projects, which seemed to have a good reputation.

What made to choose the trip you chose?
- it was designed for over-40 year olds (although it’s also available for younger people, the youngest in my group was 18)
- it was there to help the San people, and gave a chance to meet them outside a tourist venue
- it wasn’t too expensive

3Tim Mallett Namibia Medical Clinic IWH.png

Just before you boarded the plane, how did you feel?
Excited. Excited to be finally leaving, after months of planning (I had planned a 10 week trip, the time with the project was just the first 2 weeks)

What happened when you arrived ?
I was met at Windhoek airport by a person from the Wildlife Sanctuary arranged by IWH, which was very helpful, as I had no Namibian money, and no idea where to go, or how much taxi fares were, or whether they were safe. He drove us to the Wildlife Sanctuary, about 30 minutes from the airport, took me to the office to sign in, then took me to my cabin.
On the way from the main gate to the office we saw 9 or 10 species of animal I’d never seen “in the wild” before. And that was within an hour of arriving in the country. That wasn’t the main reason for signing up with the Wildlife Sanctuary, but it was a nice bonus

2Tim Mallett Namibia Medical Clinic IWH.png

What experience did you gain that you’ll be able to use in the future?
For me it was more about the immediate experience, and meeting the San people. But one of the guys at the clinic with me was wanting to apply for Med School, so was looking for some extra experience to put on his CV. And one of the women was 4/5th through her medical degree, and this was her summer holiday, volunteering in a clinic, just to increase her medical experience.

What was something challenging you got through ? How?
Living in a shared house with 3 other volunteers, plus the doctor and two local staff, was potentially quite challenging. Cooking together (and agreeing on meals), cleaning, all the usual issues with sharing a house with people you haven’t met before. The answer, as always, was compromise. Hearing how everyone else felt, then finding the best compromise, on everything from menus to shower times.

What moment are you most proud of, and why?
Probably the decision to sign up for the two weeks volunteering. It was a huge change from my routine at home, a huge leap into the unknown, and it was quite different from the usual tourist options of camping tours or safaris. I was also concerned that there would only be 20 to 25 year olds there, and while most people at the Wildlife Sanctuary were in that age range, there were a couple of older people at the clinic, as well as the young ones, so it seemed to work.
1Tim Mallett Namibia Medical Clinic IWH.png

Why do I think others should do this ?
Firstly, if you have any interest in medical training, this would make a great add-on to a holiday in Namibia. It’s not like structured medical training, you never know what sort of medical issues will come in the door each day, some days there might be very few, and you don’t know who else will be there with you. But it is a great way to learn, and experience, the reality of delivering primary health care in a country that has significant resourcing constraints.
And if, like me, you have no medical training or expertise, there are still ways to be useful – there are always practical things to be done, computer tasks, household chores – just remember don’t assume anything, and be prepared for the unexpected !!!

To find our more visit the Namibia Medical Clinic page on our site.

Fill out my online form.

I’d always wanted to travel to Africa - Namibia Medical Clinic

So I searched through lots of volunteering sites, and found International Working Holidays had a programme called “volunteering over 40”, which sounds ideal. And they had a programme that involved volunteering at a Medical clinic for San people. What made you decide to do your trip?
I’d always wanted to travel to Africa (see Peter Mathieson’s “The tree where man was born”), but work and family commitments meant it wasn’t possible until this year. I’d also read James Suzman, “Affluence without Abundance”, where he describes his years living with the San bushmen in Namibia and Botswana, and their current plight. I wanted to meet the San people, but not as a tourist watching them sing and dance, I wanted to actually meet them as people, and hear about their lives.
So I searched through lots of volunteering sites, and found International Working Holidays had a programme called “volunteering over 40”, which sounds ideal. And they had a programme that involved volunteering at a Medical clinic for San people.
0Tim Mallett Namibia Medical Clinic IWH.png

How long did it take you to decide to book – what made you finally do it?
It took about a month of research, looking at all the volunteering websites, reading reviews, asking questions. We learned that there were some unethical websites out there, that sounded good at first, but when I researched further they were a bit dodgy (the “walking with lion cubs”, for example.) But IWH linked in with the project I chose and others projects, which seemed to have a good reputation.

What made to choose the trip you chose?
- it was designed for over-40 year olds (although it’s also available for younger people, the youngest in my group was 18)
- it was there to help the San people, and gave a chance to meet them outside a tourist venue
- it wasn’t too expensive

3Tim Mallett Namibia Medical Clinic IWH.png

Just before you boarded the plane, how did you feel?
Excited. Excited to be finally leaving, after months of planning (I had planned a 10 week trip, the time with the project was just the first 2 weeks)

What happened when you arrived ?
I was met at Windhoek airport by a person from the Wildlife Sanctuary arranged by IWH, which was very helpful, as I had no Namibian money, and no idea where to go, or how much taxi fares were, or whether they were safe. He drove us to the Wildlife Sanctuary, about 30 minutes from the airport, took me to the office to sign in, then took me to my cabin.
On the way from the main gate to the office we saw 9 or 10 species of animal I’d never seen “in the wild” before. And that was within an hour of arriving in the country. That wasn’t the main reason for signing up with the Wildlife Sanctuary, but it was a nice bonus

2Tim Mallett Namibia Medical Clinic IWH.png

What experience did you gain that you’ll be able to use in the future?
For me it was more about the immediate experience, and meeting the San people. But one of the guys at the clinic with me was wanting to apply for Med School, so was looking for some extra experience to put on his CV. And one of the women was 4/5th through her medical degree, and this was her summer holiday, volunteering in a clinic, just to increase her medical experience.

What was something challenging you got through ? How?
Living in a shared house with 3 other volunteers, plus the doctor and two local staff, was potentially quite challenging. Cooking together (and agreeing on meals), cleaning, all the usual issues with sharing a house with people you haven’t met before. The answer, as always, was compromise. Hearing how everyone else felt, then finding the best compromise, on everything from menus to shower times.

What moment are you most proud of, and why?
Probably the decision to sign up for the two weeks volunteering. It was a huge change from my routine at home, a huge leap into the unknown, and it was quite different from the usual tourist options of camping tours or safaris. I was also concerned that there would only be 20 to 25 year olds there, and while most people at the Wildlife Sanctuary were in that age range, there were a couple of older people at the clinic, as well as the young ones, so it seemed to work.
1Tim Mallett Namibia Medical Clinic IWH.png

Why do I think others should do this ?
Firstly, if you have any interest in medical training, this would make a great add-on to a holiday in Namibia. It’s not like structured medical training, you never know what sort of medical issues will come in the door each day, some days there might be very few, and you don’t know who else will be there with you. But it is a great way to learn, and experience, the reality of delivering primary health care in a country that has significant resourcing constraints.
And if, like me, you have no medical training or expertise, there are still ways to be useful – there are always practical things to be done, computer tasks, household chores – just remember don’t assume anything, and be prepared for the unexpected !!!

To find our more visit the Namibia Medical Clinic page on our site.

Fill out my online form.
I’d always wanted to travel to Africa - Namibia Medical Clinic

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