Robert Laurenson - Medicine in Nepal
Joining a 2 Week Special programme for the 2nd time!
This wasn't my first 2 Week Special, and I don't think it'll be my last. In the summer of 2010, I went to India with Projects Abroad and had an amazing experience. I didn't think it would be possible to have a better time, and so I was apprehensive when offered the chance to go to Nepal in July 2011 thinking I would be disappointed. But I was wrong.
These Projects Abroad trips aren't just brilliant for the work experience you could never have in a western country, they're brilliant for developing your own character and responsibility. I decided that I would make my own travel arrangements to Nepal and flying across the world as a 17 year old, stopping off half way to make a connection flight gave me a great sense of independence and confidence.
However, despite having made my own arrangements to get to the airport in Kathmandu, Projects Abroad still came to pick me up from the airport and take me to the hotel where I met some of the other volunteers.
Meeting volunteers from all over the world
The best thing about Projects Abroad is the kind of people it attracts, and these volunteers are friends I'll have forever. We had a diverse group of people from all over the world including the USA, England, Scotland, France, Dubai and Hong Kong. I think when doing a programme like medicine, it naturally attracts nice people and so it's easy to get along with everyone.
The staff presence was amazing. The staff didn’t try to be your teachers or parents. They were responsible and supporting but not controlling or restricting. We were given freedom as we stuck to the rules and were ready when they needed us to be ready. The activities and transportation ran according to plan, all thanks to the hard efforts of the local staff.
The medical experience
The shadowing at the hospital let us rotate around different wards and ensured that everyone got to see some surgery. I was fortunate enough to see a C section and the removal of a kidney stone; things which would be impossible to see in the UK. There wasn't much of a language barrier either because the doctors spoke a decent level of English so we weren't just left to ourselves to work things out.
The trips to a malnourishment centre and a hostel for children with AIDS were just as good. The things we learnt were eye opening, no longer were we looking at the victims of these issues through a television screen, but they were right in front of us. It wasn't all passive learning though; we did do some hands-on work like helping educate school children about how germs can spread from person to person and how to wash their hands properly to prevent the spread of bacteria and diseases.
Weekend travel time
The leisure trips to museums, temples, markets and the national park were culturally enlightening. We saw a 7 year old Goddess who is replaced once she becomes impure and bleeds for the first time. We bartered for goods from bracelets to bags. We saw rhinos, footprints of a tiger and monkeys.
They say travelling broadens the mind, and travelling with Projects Abroad makes the world seem a smaller place.