The project is committed to improving the lives of the San community through education, health care and improved living conditions. The project is a great choice for volunteers with an interest in health care, community service, nutrition and medicine.
|Location||Omaheke Region: Epukiro, eastern Namibia|
|Duration||From 2 - 12 weeks|
|Dates||All year round from mid-January to mid-December|
|Documents required||Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance, (all travellers to Namibia are required to have a valid passport)|
|Day of arrival||Sunday|
|Day of departure||Tuesday|
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 babies and more than 9ß% are San. As well as examining and treating patients at the clinic and at our outreach sites, we transport and admit patients in urgent need of medical attention to the nearest hospital 120km away. A large focus of the work is to tackle the tuberculosis burden within the San population. The clinic is quite literally a lifeline for thousands of San Bushman.
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.
A recently added Agricultural Project has started at the Lifeline Clinic, where the local San community is educated in growing their own vegetables to sell at local markets.
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. Please note that medical professionals must be registered in Namibia to provide medical treatment.
Whatever your background/experience of, you will assist with the daily duties of the clinic, which may include:
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.
You will stay in a volunteer house next door to the clinic. 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 8 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, 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.
Inês from Portugal
„This project exceeded my expectations in a way it is impossible to explain. Being able to contribute to a better provision of care for these people made me feel very grateful and fulfilled. Without a doubt, what I liked the most was seeing how small gestures like smiling and hugging makes a difference in these people's lives. On a professional level, what I liked the most was to do my first baby delivery and feel all the emotions surrounding it.“
Natália from Brazil
“When I planned this trip, I could never imagine what experiences I would really live. I could never be ready for the things I saw and the reality I experienced. Volunteering is not so much about what you, as a volunteer, can do for those people, but what being able to help can do for you. This is the kind of thing that changes your life. It makes you rethink your role on this Planet. These people show you, through love and open hearts, what life is really about. I feel very grateful for allowing myself to volunteer and I think every young hearted person should do it too."
Laura from Brazil
"When I was a young girl I wrote a letter to Santa Claus: “When I get tired just remind me who I am and who I am supposed to be”. The whole experience was beautifully exhausting, but thanks for all the memories. I can strongly recommend it! Thank you for everything!"
Vera from Switzerland
"After my return back home everybody was obviously eager to hear about my volunteering at the Namibian Medical Project. So often I had to answer the question, or rather statement: ‚I bet you saw some intense cases.‘ Saying intense, they meant malnourished children as they are often presented in newspapers and television. The more I thought about it the more I had to set them straight since yes, I did see some ‚intense‘ cases but what struck me the most was the simplicity of the San’s lives. They spend their whole lives in the same villages, not knowing what tomorrow brings. People from westernized countries run from one appointment to another, therefore arriving in Epukiro felt like pressing pause on my life for a little while. Despite not having much, they never failed to smile and to be genuinely interested in my day. So, I had to adjust my answer: ‚Yes, I did see some intense cases. But knowing that now that I see them in the clinic means they finally get the help they deserve, took the sadness of the situation away. And it’s important to know that there’s so much more to the whole continent of Africa than malnourished children.‘ Thus I’d urge everybody who has the opportunity to go to Epukiro and see and learn for themselves. Thank you once again for making it possible for me."
Tatjana from Germany
"It was very interesting to be so close to the people and see how they live. Of course we all know pictures from TV, but it is very different to stand in a village or house and see how poor those people are. It is very sad, that many families don’t have enough food and children get sick or even die because they are so malnourished. I have also learned how difficult it is to help and get enough food or clothing to the people or find a solution for the future how they can have a better life. The doctors, sisters and the translators are doing a great job. I was very impressed and I am very thankful that I could join them for this few weeks. I would like to do it again."
Carolina from Brazil
"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
"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."