Solo Mission Trip: Tanzania, Africa

Anyone who knows me knows that I love traveling, nursing, and meeting new people- my volunteer trip to Tanzania allowed me to experience all of this and so much more. Being my first solo trip out of the country, I was as nervous as I was excited, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision because it brought me more independence, appreciation for every single thing I have, and reinforcement that happiness lies nowhere but within yourself. The people I met and adventures I had made the past few weeks among the most unforgettable times of my life (and, another continent closer to achieving my dream of visiting every continent except Antarctica)! 

After 22 hours of flights and layovers and 2 hours in the visa line at the airport, I was greeted by the Tanzania Volunteer Experience (TVE) staff, the local partner of the program I traveled through, International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ). Of the 2 volunteer houses in the city of Arusha, I stayed in the smaller one with the more homey atmosphere, called Simba, meaning lion in Swahili. The other one was right across the street, called Twiga, which means giraffe. We had houses mamas who cooked 3 delicious meals every day, staff who cleaned the house daily, a couple of drivers who partnered with TVE for volunteers going far or out after dark, and the welcoming staff members who were available 24/7 to answer questions and provide support every step of the way. I spent most of my time with the group of new volunteers who arrived on the same day as me, but I also got to create friendships with other volunteers from all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, Cyprus, Greece, London, China, and more!

Every weekday morning, I woke up around 8am to have breakfast and get ready for placement. Most volunteers chose to work at schools or orphanages, but I was part of the medical program and went to Levolosi Hospital, a local government hospital with very limited staff and resources. The foundation was the same; it was a building with various departments including emergency room, lab, pharmacy, surgery, and clinic, and the basics of healthcare were similar in that the human body doesn’t vary much between different areas of the world…but oh, the experience was quite different! Another volunteer and I were placed in the obstetrics/gynecology, or women’s health/labor and delivery. There were only a couple of doctors and a handful of nurses for hundreds of patients, but somehow the environment was still less stressful than in most of the hospitals around here! We delivered babies, saw c-section surgeries, and looked after the mothers and babies after delivery, and there wasn’t a single day that I didn’t see and learn something new.

Placement usually ended for most volunteers around 1:30pm, and afternoons/evenings and weekends were free for fun, relaxation, or taking care of personal work. Most evenings were spent talking with other volunteers in my favorite hangout spot on the front porch, reading, or taking some time for self-reflection (or much needed naps)! A few of the days I also practiced group yoga, went to the Shanga Bead Factory, shopped for medical supplies, and went out to the local club for movie night. During the first weekend I was there, I saw a real village, toured a coffee plantation, hiked to a waterfall, explored a real cave, and went to the hot springs (a popular tourist attraction in the city of Moshi), Jamatkhana (place of prayer for Ismaili Muslims), and Mount Kilamanjaro National Park. The second weekend was spent at a 3-day overnight camping Safari to 2 of the most popular safari parks in Tanzania, one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.

As promised in my GoFundMe post to raise donations for medical supplies, here is your update: together, we raised $600, or over 1 million Tanzanian Shillings to purchase necessary medical supplies that were much appreciated! Also as promised to so many prior to my departure, below are the pictures from daily life in Tanzania to the most memorable moments with some amazing people and experiences that I will never forget! Thank you so much for all your support, and enjoy!

Streets of Arusha, Tanzania
Simba House for Volunteers
Operating Room: C-section complication
Delivery Room
I DELIVERED THIS BABY
My First Tent
Crater where we slept on Safari Day 2
Lion Couple
Beautiful Elephants
Hiking to Happiness
Neighbor Kids Who Braided My Hair
Afternoon Yoga
Bead Factory Employs Deaf, Handicapped, and Disabled Staff
A Real Hut in a Real Village
Hot Springs in Moshi
Cave Exploration!
Breathtaking Waterfall: Worth the Hike
Coffee Making Process at the Plantation
Kilimanjaro National Park
Markets and Shopping in the Streets
Jamatkhana/Ismaili Place of Worship
Friends on the Front Porch
Weekend Squad
Movie Night at Club Via Via
 

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