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Namibia Medical Project

The project is committed to improving the lives of the San community through education, health care and improved living conditions. The project aims to give the next generation the education, health care and help they need to survive and to build a brighter, healthier future.

Namibia Medical Project

Overview:

Location Omaheke Region: Epukiro, eastern Namibia
Duration From 2 - 12 weeks
Dates All year round
Requirements
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: You should have an ability to take the initiative as well as a compassionate heart and interest in community work.
Minimum Age: 18
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance, visa application (all travellers to Namibia are required to have a valid passport and a working visa)
Day of arrival Every 2nd Saturday
Day of departure Every 2nd Saturday

Highlights

  • Assist the 2 doctors and the clinic nurse with the running of the clinic.
  • Work closely with the San community and make a real difference to a marginalised community.
  • Experience the beauty of the African wilderness.
  • Take part in excursions in Namibia: 3-day to 28-day tours are available at an extra cost. Tours may include visits to the amazing sand dunes in Sossussvlei, the coastal resort of Swakkopmund and the Etosha National Park.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Project Information

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 carry on their traditional lifestyle. Bushman are treated as third-class citizens and live in extreme poverty. The project is committed to improving the lives of the San community through education, healthcare and improved living conditions. The project aims to give the next generation of this poverty-stricken community the education, healthcare and help they need to survive and to build a brighter, healthier future.

The medical team, 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. There are also a lot of patients with aches and pains, and everyday problems. Common diseases amongst child patients include fungal infections, intestinal worms, diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition and mouth infections. 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, the team also runs regular outreach clinics at local schools, resettlement villages and farms. There is also a Community Health Worker scheme, which focuses on teaching certain members of the community the basics of first aid and general health care in order for them to impart this to their communities.

There is a 12-night rotation: Medical volunteers depart for the clinic on a Sunday and come back on the 2nd Friday after this. If you book for longer, you will most likely still come back for the weekend and return to the clinic on Sunday. For transfer dates please contact us.

Your Role

You work alongside the clinic’s doctor and nurse to learn about the common diseases affecting the local population and how to treat them. You work closely with patients from the local San community. Your training will be tailored to your skills, level, background and knowledge. Prospective medical students can expect to be trained in basic clinical skills, such as history-taking and patient examinations. Trained professionals are asked to conduct consultations with patients and to assist with outreach work. Trained professionals therefore have the opportunity to have a real impact on the people who are at most in need of help. 

Your tasks depend on your experience and background.

Whatever your background/experience of, you will assist with the daily duties of the clinic, which may include: 

  • Primary healthcare: observations, reassurance of patients, treatment and emergency referrals.
  • Observations: pregnancy tests and urine tests for patients and recording findings.
  • Weighing babies and keeping growth charts.
  • Recording blood pressure.
  • Glucose testing and recording.
  • Wound care.
  • Help in the pharmacy: stock control, packing medicine and new orders.
  • Family planning.
  • Substance abuse counselling.
  • Keeping financial records and data capture.
  • Accompanying the nurse into the community to carry out procedures.
  • General maintenance work in the clinic.
  • Helping with projects around the clinic such as the vegetable garden.
  • Assist with the Community Health Worker Scheme. 

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. 

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.

Accommodation 

You will stay in a modern bungalow house. Depending on the number of volunteers, you may have your own room or may share with one other person of the same gender. Only a maximum of 4 volunteers can be accommodated at any given time so there is a house-share or family type environment. The house has a kitchen, bathroom and living room (with TV), and electricity and hot water are freely available. Volunteers are expected to help with the cleaning and cooking. 

The doctors and nurses stay in a separate but adjoining building. However, they still share the communal areas with the volunteers, and are involved with the cooking and cleaning too.

Testimonials

Carolina from Brazil

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"Being part of the volunteers team in the medical project was one of the best experience I've had in my life. I can describe it as a life-changing opportunity, because you're able to get in tough with San's reality, which is one of the hardest and discriminated way of life I've ever  seen. The project showed me how a simple gesture of affection and attention is important for anyone, even in the moment of weakness and of a disease, and can help others go through difficult times. In the end, I could realized that the love I gave to them it was given me back as a lesson about the most valuable things in the world. So I would certainly recommend this programme to anyone interested in a medical volunteer."

Elizabeth from the United States

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"When you return home from any big trip, you are bombarded with questions. Coworkers, family, and friends are naturally curious about your grand adventure. The question I heard most often was, "Did you have fun?!" Their faces lit up with anticipation, expecting me to have intense tales of my African adventures. Unfortunately for them, "fun" is not the word I would use to sum up my trip. There were points that were incredibly fun. On the weekends, we (the volunteers) went to Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary. We got to play with baboons and cheetahs. I can safely say I never thought I would be in that close proximity to a cheetah. It was incredible.
But during the week, the work that we did and the things that we saw were not necessarily always fun. Honestly, sometimes they were downright heartbreaking. Obviously, there were points that were fun. I think it's impossible to not connect with the people you're around everyday whether they be natives or volunteers. When everyone in the village gathered at the clinic to share a meal, children and adults would dance and laugh. They would try to teach us San, a language primarily of clicks, and we would all laugh when we couldn't get it. Then there were the times when we would venture to find a patient in the village and see how the San people lived. The run down shacks that they would live in were made up of garbage bags and sticks, accommodating anywhere from 5-15 people depending on the family. It was heartbreaking when you realized that tiny shack was smaller than your bedroom at home. It was heartbreaking to see a severely malnourished child share the sandwich the clinic gave her with the four other children around. Or to see a patient that was obviously drunk with a baby on her back and another one in her belly, knowing that she drinks because alcohol is cheaper and more filling than food. So the one word I would use to describe my trip would not be "fun," it would be rewarding, incredible, eye-opening, fulfilling, and ultimately inspiring. I can only hope that one day I can return to Africa as a nurse to do service work. This was the trip of a lifetime and I am so blessed to have been a part of the Lifeline Clinic."