Tanzania and Kenya
Whilst looking for a volunteering opportunity overseas I came across the story of Livingstone, a young Kenyan boy who had died of malaria whilst his mum tried to carry him to hospital a 15km walk away. Livingstone was one of the children supported by The Nasio Trust, a charity operating in the Rift Valley in Western Kenya and after his tragic death they vowed to build a health centre in the local area. I was really inspired to do something to help so decided to run Brighton Half Marathon and managed to raise over £5500 towards the £48,500 target!
The MPW Travel Fund allowed me the opportunity to not only visit the centres in Kenya but to also fulfil a dream of climbing Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in Africa at 5895m!
Our climbing adventure involved many highs and lows. My favourite food on the mountain was an amazing guacamole dip that would have put Chipotle to shame! The day we summited, however, was so hard: it was freezing with a light dusting of snow falling as we climbed through scree and volcanic ash. We all were feeling the effects of altitude and it was a huge mental effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other. How we managed to drag our aching legs all the way to the top I will never know but the overwhelming sense of achievement and emotion is something that I will never forget.
The second part of my trip involved working with The Nasio Trust, who support vulnerable children and HIV orphans in rural areas of Kenya. We spent some of our time in the day care centres where we played games, taught and served the children their meals. The happiness the children showed from you just giving them some of your attention and time was so humbling.
We also undertook some community projects in the local area and volunteered at the medical centre, which has recently opened. A day working on an outreach program to help treat children with “jiggers” was eye opening. A jigger is a sand flea, which burrows into the surface of the skin, laying eggs. Wounds from jiggers can lead to infections, gangrene and death. The stigma and impact that jiggers have on the community was awful to see, as was the condition of some of the children’s feet. The reward of seeing their happiness having been treated, with new shoes and walking pain free was so worthwhile.
I am beyond thankful to MPW for awarding me my travel scholarship. My time in Africa was a life changing opportunity and a trip I will never forget. It has given me the opportunity to see healthcare in a totally different environment and confirmed my desire to study medicine. I will never forget these children who smile so much yet have so little and I hope one day when qualified I can do something to make a difference to them and children like them in Africa.