This program completely changes your life. It is incredible to be surrounded by children and adolescents- essentially allowing us to help them to learn new things to help them in the future. The school helps us to see how difficult it is to be a mother or father and the obligation to give a great education to these children so that they can work towards bettering the country as a whole. Also, to spend time with the girls at the orphanage helps us to really understand what it really means to value the great moments and experiences in life. Really it can be said that love, respect and sincerity are things that every person should have and experience; the least important things, on the contrary, are the physicalities of people as well as the items that they possess. At the entrance of the orphanage, the wall reads "una persona vale más que un mundo" and through this, it doesn't matter how many hardships life presents, what truly matters is how a person continues to remain strong and happy.
Traveling to Zambia I had little idea of what to expect. What I couldn't have guessed is that in 5 short weeks I would make such great connections with people and so many memories. The people you get to work with within the main office and phenomenal, talented, and driven. Lusaka itself is a bustling, traffic filled modern city with Zambian culture on every corner. While they have western-style malls & shopping areas, the ideal of the true market is still very much alive in Zambia. If you get a chance to, spend a little time negotiating downtown & enjoy the experience, although understand the currency here beforehand! People here are incredibly kind & will go out of their way to help you. Trust me, if you get lost, it is easy to find someone who will point you in the right direction or even walk you to your intended destination. I'm speaking from very personal experience, as I managed to always be incorrect by one or two bus stops off when I adventured off by myself. And I found I met incredibly interesting people off the beaten path, especially when traveling in Livingstone. The other volunteers you run into all have amazing stories & experience you can learn from. Additionally, I found my conversations with Olivia, Josephat, their family, and my peers in the office were the most revealing about the similarities and differences in culture, everyday life, and expectations. I really felt like a friend in their home by the time I left, instead of some stranger who had appeared on their doorstep 5 weeks before. It's amazing to give freely of your time & any expertise to people who are so welcoming. Additionally, the offices and departments we worked with were incredibly forthcoming and receptive to change. When meeting with prison officials, community members, or even government representatives the underlying feeling was that everyone was contributing to make everyone's, even the sometimes forgotten prisoners, a little bit better. It was a refreshing way to look at change! I don't know if the work I did while I was in Zambia will be able a significant contribution, but I know I loved getting the chance to experience their culture. I know the country, the people; even the calmness has truly touched my life. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything, and I am so thankful to A Broader View for giving me the chance to be in Zambia!
The ABV staff is easily one of the best groups I have associated with over the years. Very professional: Responsive, timely and continuous with relevant information.
Agatha is a gem! Wufie is great…a true asset to the organization. Numerous others. Here is an example: The main cook, Ms. V, heard that our team was comprised of medical professionals/students. She came and talked with us regarding her concern about a newly arrived child with epilepsy. As a result of our discussion, Agatha asked if we would develop a presentation for the staff. Ultimately, we provided a 3-hour training session in Pediatric First Aid, CPR & Epilepsy. The staff was highly engaged during all facets of training and we were constantly answering questions throughout. Very dynamic, lots of laughter. Great experience for both teachers and students. One lady brought us homemade tamales later in the day as her way of saying thank you. We were very touched and accepted them most humbly.
It was working as a team with the other nurses from Cusco at Hospital Regional when the Emergency Department would get very busy.
I was Surprise:
I was surprise that even thought I was aware that the hospital here would be very different; it was still quite a shock to experience it in person.
The most difficult thing I experienced was…
The most difficult and frustrating thing I experienced was taking care of many critical patients without enough or the right medications, medical supplies & equipment that they really needed.
My best received lesson:
My best-received lesson was adapting to the different hospital setting & learning how to utilize the limited resources by training & prioritizing patient care.
Tip for future Volunteers:
Bring Green Scrubs! Specially seafoam/mint green colors. The nurses here only wear these colored uniforms so it will be confusing if you’re not in the right color. Also bring red & blue pens because the charting is done a certain way with these colors. At the beginning of every shift, introduce yourself to the other nurses so that they know who you are & that you are ready to help wherever they need you. Ask the charge Nurses “when” you should work, because different shifts are busier & need more help than others. For example, I started out working in the mornings, until O asked when they needed the most help & the nurses told main the evenings. Since I was working in the Emergency Department, the number of patients varied from then on, I started to come at 7pm & stayed as long as they needed me each night. There was a significant difference at the time of day & they really did need the extra help then. Some nights it would calm down by 11 or 12 so I would leave then. Other nights there would be so many critical patients & not enough nurses so I would stay & help until the next morning. My best advice is to be willing to absorb & adapt to the different hospital environment. The quicker you learn how they do things there & accept that it’s not as clean & pretty as the hospital you’re used to at home, the quicker you can really jump in there & help.
Essential supplies that you should try your hardest to bring include:
-BP Cuffs(s)-There was only 1 for the whole ED
-Pulse Oximeter – Also only one for the whole ED & several patients needed close SpO2 monitoring so try to bring a small one (US$50) that you can wear around your neck.
-Gloves – As many boxes as possible 3-4
-Hand Sanitizer – enough to last your self the entire time, keep a small one in your pocket at all times.
-Honestly any other supplies.. They need it!!!
How would you rate your experience working with the ABV staff, both in the US and in country?
US staff was great & organized. Very quick to respond & answer questions.
My coordinator in Cusco was wonderful. She really helped get my settle & was very friendly.
How would you describe your accommodation?
Host home: Wonderful. Very nice welcoming family
At the hospital it was a little disorganized, as there was no set nurse for me to report in to each shift. However, that was fine because I was very proactive &made the effort to get to know the different nurses each shift so we were able to communicate & work together better. Building good relationships with the other nurses is definitely key to adapting quicker & therefore, being able to help more.
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Absolutely!!. I would actually strongly recommend that any future Cusco nurse volunteers contact me for advice prior to their trip.
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