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Amanda Godoi - Medicina en Tanzania

Volunteer experience in Tanzania – High School Special Medical Program By Amanda Godoi

The choice of the project

Amanda Godoi

My name is Amanda Godoi and I am 16 years old. I have lived in three countries so far, and travelled to several places, but I must admit I had never thought I would have one of my most remarkable experiences in Africa. In July 2017, I had the amazing opportunity of participating in the two weeks High School Special Medical Program in Arusha, Tanzania. I have always had a passion for medicine, but I didn't know if that was what I wanted to do in the future. I was living in Vietnam at that time and, as a high school student, decided to try something new during my Semester Break. I was able to find Projects Abroad after searching in the internet and their website looked really organized. I spent some time reading reviews from past volunteers and information about the company, and I could see they were trustworthy and successful.

I decided to choose them not only because of that, but also because I came across the perfect program for me: a two weeks project in Tanzania where I would learn about the basics of medicine while engaging with the culture of the place and doing volunteer work.

Before the trip

Amanda Godoi

Gaining support from the Projects Abroad staff from the moment I signed up until the moment I came back home, I couldn't be in better hands. The team was exceptional on the organization of my trip. I only had to upload my passport scan and a parent consent form, and they organized my accommodation, my flight tickets and made sure I was updated about everything through emails and their website. Their website had all the information about the trip (even a step by step document for me to prepare), the schedule, visa requirements and packing list - which was extremely helpful. My supervisor for the project would also be constantly contacting me through email to give me support, and we had about three phone calls before the trip to make sure I didn't have any doubts and was prepared for my project.

With all the preparation done, all I had to do was to dive in my exciting new journey to Arusha, and as anyone else, I was really scared of travelling by myself to Africa, a continent I have never been before, but at the same really excited for the "new world" I was about to see.

The country, the accommodation and other volunteers

Amanda Godoi

Staying at The Haus accommodation where the staff is exceptionally kind and helpful, I must say I didn’t experience a culture shock because I found a family. Volunteers from all over the world stayed with me at this accommodation and we lived this experience together, which made the whole project even more special. I could not be more grateful for getting to know such kind and perseverant people. Today I still have contact with all of them and also with our amazing supervisor, Daniella, who I could not be more grateful for having on this trip.

As for Tanzania, the only thing I can say is that I fell in love with the country. Even with all the poverty, the people of the country are always smiling and enjoying life the way we all should, and they received us with open arms in their country. Over the two weeks I spent there, I could learn about their interesting "pole-pole" way of living, which means that they live their lives "slowly", enjoying every second and not worrying about the future. This was one of the most important things I saw on this trip. In such a busy and stressed life we live, we have to be able to relax more and enjoy more life, because time is going by. As the Tanzanians say, "hakuna matata" should be everyone’s goal.

Experiences over the two weeks

Amanda Godoi

During the week, we had workshops about medicine topics, such as surgery, HIV, tropical diseases and several others. Not only that, but we also had cultural workshops which made us know a lot more about the country and the Tanzanian language, Swahili. After each workshop about medicine, we had visit a hospital of the city, to experience what we learned in first hand.

Over the two weeks, we could apply some of our newly-gained knowledge by participating in medical outreaches, such as the ones in the Engikaret village and the Moshi Orphanage. Occasionally we would have special activities such as going to the Maasai Craft Market, to the Snake Park, having a cooking class and appreciating cultural dance performances.

Projects Abroad also organized programs for the weekend we spent there. There was a visit in the Tarangire National Park on Saturday, where I had my first safari experience, and a climb to Mount Meru on Sunday to see its waterfalls. Every second of these activities were so meaningful to me! The schedule and activities overcame my expectations and I'm grateful for enjoying everything.

My most memorable experience was definitely visiting the Maasai Village. Besides getting to know about their rich and ancient culture, I was able to visit their huts, appreciate their "jumping" ceremony and - even though speaking different languages - communicate with them. Nonetheless, the part of the visit that was remarkable was when I drank goat's blood. Yes, you read it right, goat's blood. As one of their traditions, the Maasai people killed a goat to cook for us (in the middle of nowhere) and we drank its blood as they say it has healing properties. It was disgusting and exciting at the same time, and it was the most incredible, unique and odd experience I had in my entire life.

Final thoughts and advices

Amanda Godoi

I am not the same person I was before participating in the High School Special Medical Program in Tanzania. This program made me not only discover that medicine is what I want to do in the future, but also allowed me to seriously engage with the country's culture and live memorable experiences. It is a project that offers unique experiences where you can gain knowledge about your interests while getting deep insight of a culture and making several friends.

An advice I would give is to adapt to situations. The project is designed to change your perspective on things, and to open your eyes to a "new world". Sometimes you won't be able to do the things you want to do (such as going at the supermarket at a desired time) or have the routine you wish to have, or you will have to do things you never imagined you would do (such as the experience in Maasai Village) and you have to be able to engage with these and get the most out of them. Everything you do in this project will give special life lessons and make you a better individual, so make sure to enjoy every second of it – you will not regret it.

In conclusion, the last advice that I can give is to choose the four week program over the two weeks. At first, two weeks might seem like a long time, but it goes by in a blink of an eye, and in the end, we all want to stay for longer. I'm grateful for all the life lessons I was able to learn with this program and how it has made me a more caring, risk-taker and open-minded person.

Amanda Godoi

Esta es la experiencia personal de un voluntario en el proyecto y es el panorama de un momento específico. Tu experiencia puede variar, pues nuestros proyectos se adaptan constantemente a las necesidades locales y a los logros obtenidos. Los cambios climáticos estacionales también pueden tener un gran impacto. Contáctanos para obtener más información sobre lo que puedes esperar de este proyecto.

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