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Volunteer AbroadVolunteer Overseas

Chloe Gwynn - Nursing Electives in Sri Lanka

I went to Sri Lanka on my elective as part of my nursing degree. You do not have to go abroad for this but going to Sri Lanka was one of the best experiences of my life. This was the first time I had been to Sri Lanka and it did not let me down.

My Nursing Placement in Balapitiya

Volunteer nursing elective Sri Lanka

On the first day of my placement I put on my blue scrubs, had breakfast and then made my way down to the bus stop. Luckily I had experienced the delight of Sri Lankan buses the day before so it was not that much of a surprise to me. However after hanging onto anything I could to stop me falling over or onto someone, I arrived at the hospital. I found my way to the surgical department and met the consultant I would be working with for the first half of my placement. I spent a lot of time watching surgeries, including hernia operations, a skin graft and emergency surgery. I also spent time on the male and female surgical wards attending ward rounds as well as spending a day in the out patients clinic.

The second half of my placement was spent in the maternity ward and labour room. I really wanted to experience maternity care because as a student nurse I have never and will never experience this. My two weeks in maternity were amazing and I got to watch women give birth, as well as C-sections.

All of the staff in the hospital were so welcoming and helpful. Always willing to answer questions as well as ask questions about the UK healthcare system. It was incredible to learn about the differences between healthcare in Sri Lanka and in the UK. One main point I will take away with me is the amount of waste there is in the UK health system, so in future I will try to cut my own waste as a nurse.

My Host Family

Volunteer host family Sri Lanka

The host family I stayed with in Sri Lanka were so welcoming. I felt like part of the family so quickly and the food was amazing. I feel that I got to experience the real Sri Lanka by staying with a family because I got to learn about the village – they even tried to teach me Sinhalese and taught me about the food. They have a daughter who is 10 years old and she loves to play games with all the volunteers and I felt like her big sister.

My host family are just incredible and I feel so lucky to have stayed with them. Whilst there I felt like Senanee was my second mum; caring for us if anyone was not feeling well, asking about our food preferences and telling us about places to visit at the weekends.

Weekends in Sri Lanka

We worked in the hospital Monday to Friday and had the weekends free so I spent every weekend travelling around Sri Lanka and visiting as much of it as possible. The first weekend I went to Unawatuna in the south with some other volunteers. I had been told by the consultant at the hospital it was a lovely beach and it did not disappoint. The next weekend I went to visit the elephants - a must in Sri Lanka. I went to visit temples, on a boat safari, went to a religious festival, met other volunteers and also went to the Projects Abroad monthly social.

My time in Sri Lanka was amazing and I learnt so much from the hospital which I will take back to the UK. I made some amazing friends and am so sad it is all over but the memories of my trip will stay with me forever.

Chloe Gwynn

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