As a part of my university major, an internship is required prior to graduation. I have always wanted to study abroad and when I heard about Projects Abroad through a friend, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to complete my internship and to travel.
My friend, Kelsey, and I decided to travel to Kenya together for four weeks in order to reach our 120-hour required internship. We decided on Kenya because Projects Abroad has programmes here for both her point of interest (occupational therapy) and mine (nursing). We interned in Nanyuki, Kenya, which is right on the equator and is about three hours away from Nairobi.
My host family
We lived with a host family who lived less than a 10-minute drive away from the healthcare centre where I was placed for my internship. The family was nice and they tried to teach us some Swahili throughout our time with them. We also had a host brother and when the World Cup was on, we would watch it with him and cheer for whichever team he wanted to win.
At the end of our second week in Nanyuki, more volunteers arrived who were staying with a host family about a five-minute walk away from us. This was nice because after our work at our placement some days, we would go to town and explore before returning to our host family for the night.
My Nursing placement
The health centre where I worked provides all different types of medical care to the community. This includes departments like dental, pharmacy, mother and child care, hospice, ER, testing and analysis, physiotherapy, comprehensive care unit, and both inpatient and outpatient care.
All of the employees at the healthcare centre were very friendly and you could tell that they truly enjoyed their jobs. Before arriving in Kenya, I was expecting to only observe the nurses and doctors because I have no qualifications. However, shortly after my introduction and tour of the health centre, I was already being asked to assist the nurses with dressing wounds of the inpatients.
Throughout my four weeks, I was also able to be hands-on with all the different specialties that were provided at the centre, even though my internship focus was on nursing. As a double major of both public health and exercise science, having the opportunity to explore the other specialties in the healthcare field was amazing. It was awesome to see how all of the different specialties can overlap so much and how the nurses and doctors help each other out with the patients to fulfil their needs.
At the healthcare centre, I was able to experience first-hand and learn more about diseases and conditions that I have learned about in classes at my university. At the end of my four weeks, the nurses had taught me so much that I was able to perform the wound dressings by myself or with another volunteer, under the nurses’ supervision.
Along with spending a lot of my time at the healthcare centre, Projects Abroad organised a care outreach for all of the volunteers. On one afternoon, we went to a school and taught the students how to properly wash their hands and brush their teeth. Projects Abroad also donated toothbrushes and toothpaste to all of the children and soap to the school. Once we were done teaching them, we were able to go to the classrooms and spend some time with the older children.
Another event that Projects Abroad organised for all of us volunteers was a medical outreach. We travelled over an hour out of Nanyuki to a small church where we set up different stations. We provided care to individuals who typically don’t have easy access to a healthcare centre. We provided HIV testing, blood pressure readings, temperature readings, and over the counter medications.
The staff of Projects Abroad were incredible! When I first arrived in Kenya, I was unsure about what it would be like, but it was reassuring to see Peter outside of the airport, waiting for us and holding up a sign so we knew who he was. Once we arrived in Nanyuki, we were exhausted from the long journey, but the staff were very helpful with getting us all settled into the town and with our host family.
Throughout the four weeks, the staff also wanted to be sure that when we arrived back at the office after each day of volunteering, we were able to have some fun and hang out at the office for a while. They provided activities for us to do, such as table tennis, bracelet making, and badminton. These activities also allowed for all of the volunteers to get to know one another better, which was great because everyone was from all over the world and we all came together because of Projects Abroad.
My free time
Every weekend, we were able to explore different parts of Kenya. We had the opportunity to go on two safaris. The first one was the Samburu safari, where we saw a lot of wildlife and were able to meet some members of the Samburu tribe and learn about their way of life.
The second safari was at Ol Pejeta. We were able to see the last two female northern white rhinos in the world, the big five (lion, elephant, African buffalo, rhino, and leopard), and many more wildlife. On another one of our weekends, we went to the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy and Animal Orphanage where we were able to get really close to the animals that are being protected and/or taken care of.
My overall experience
Kenya is a beautiful place and I learned so much in my limited time there. Everyone in Kenya is very friendly and their way of life seemed to be very laid back and simple. I hope to return to Kenya someday, because I enjoyed the time that I was there very much!