Ever since I was a child I used to sit down with my family to watch the annual fundraising shows Children In Need and Red Nose Day and how they would raise money to help African children and families. That’s when I realised I also wanted to help, even if it was to educate, or just give them the support they needed for a few weeks.
When I became a student nurse I always looked out for opportunities to help Africa, even if it was just donating regularly. In our second year of training we had the opportunity to arrange a practice development experience which would allow us to gain more experience and knowledge in something we felt would benefit our training as a student nurse.
I looked at several ways to get myself out to Africa. I researched organisations such as SKIP and Work the World but none of them gave me the experience I hoped to gain from working in a hospital. I wanted to find somewhere which allowed me to be part of the hospital, as well as the community, so that I could learn from the way they work and begin to understand the true African culture and lifestyle.
Then I came across the AMECA charity. The university had only recently become involved with AMECA to help the charity find volunteers’ to go to Ghana to renovate a healthcare centre out there. I was interested from the start and instantly started helping with the fundraising by organising the first official cake sale which raised an amazing £350 towards the students trip!
This is when I heard about AMECA giving six students an opportunity to apply for a £1,000 bursary to help fund a student’s chosen trip to Africa. The application required a large amount of detail and there were of applicants that applied. We also had to complete a presentation about our chosen trip and how we would use the money. This had to be presented in front of the founder of the charity, Ruthie Markus, and a few academics within the university.
I was notified that day when I found out I was successful. I could not stop smiling and felt so grateful to have been given this opportunity.
After searching recommendations from the AMECA database I came across David Gordon Memorial Hospital (DGMH) which is a 100+ bed mission hospital situated on a plateau 3000 feet above Lake Malawi. The hospital just screamed out ‘history to explore’ and the views off the plateau were breath taking in their own right.
I contacted the hospital directly to start organising my trip. Once I gathered the relevant information and worked out all the funding I needed I created a fundraising page, with gofundme.com, where friends and family had the opportunity to donate money towards my trip.
I found that the more I posted about my trip, the more I raised. I gave regular updates on what I was doing to prepare, such as getting all the vaccinations and tablets to protect me from Malaria and other tropical diseases I could come across whilst working out in Malawi.
I had my aims and objectives on what I wanted to get out of this experience: to observe and help out as much as I could on various wards around DGMH, but also to learn about the outreach medicine and travelling to local villages to attend clinics.
Thanks for reading – next time I’ll tell you about how I resuscitated newborn twins!!