How would you describe/rate your experience working with the ABV staff in the USA? My experience working with ABV staff in the USA was great. Sarah was always quick to respond and answer questions either by phone or through email.
How was the local ABV Director and the support provided in-country? We met Nelson once for coffee and he was incredibly nice. Most of our time was spent and organized by our host, Elizabeth- Nelson’s sister, who was able to assist us with most of our needs.
What was your favorite memory of this trip? After coming back from Tanzania I remember trying to think of an answer for this question because I figured it would be one I was asked a lot. I still don’t think it is possible to list a favorite memory because we have so many to choose from. Several of my favorite memories stem from handing out dum-dums to children at the hospital, on the street, or at the orphanage and seeing the smile light up on their faces- that was priceless.
What was the most difficult thing you experienced? The most difficult thing I experience was getting used to the health care. Coming from working as a nurse in an intensive care unit, it was hard to watch incomplete medical care being provided to patients. The doctors do the best they can with such limited resources but with our knowledge base we knew that what was being done would possibly have a poor outcome for the patient. It was also difficult being introduced as a ‘nurse’ because a nurse’s practice in Tanzania and America are completely different.
What was the one thing you wished you were better prepared for? I don’t believe that there is any way to prepare for the culture shock I experienced in the first few days of being in Tanzania. I had read plenty of information about the country and previous volunteers posts but once I was actually submerged in the culture I was completely blown away. The people all have so little and live in such different conditions than we are used to, but all look so happy. Also, there are no time constraints in the culture which was very hard to get used to but we just continued to remind ourselves ‘this is Africa’!
Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations, sightseeing etc)
I brought a lot of snacks with me to eat at the hospital for lunch- this was nice because the doctors and nurses rarely take breaks- you just have to be sure to hide it from them because they will want some of your food! As far as clothing, we had opportunities we couldn’t ever have imagined while we were there, one of which was going to a wedding and the other swimming in the waterfalls at Kilimanjaro. Don’t be afraid to over pack because you never know what you are going to need!
Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
This trip to Tanzania opened my eyes to a different side of the world and made me so grateful for everything I have in my life – food, clothing, shelter, family, and so much more. It has really made me not take the little things in life for granted and appreciate all that we are lucky to have in the US. Living in the area we did, gave us a true understanding of living in Tanzania. I will never forget the walks down the dirt/rock road we lived on and the adventure of taking the dala-dala to work each day, all with the beautiful view of Mt. Meru in the background. This has been an experience of a life time and I wouldn’t change a single thing that happened in the trip both good or bad – because either way the memories and stories are irreplaceable.
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? Sure!
Laura Volunteer in Arusha, Tanzania