Kara’s maternity and children’s nursing project in Tanzania

Published on Tuesday 1 October 2019
Kara on nursing placement in Tanzania

Kara spent two weeks with us in Tanzania on a nursing placement. Kara was a healthcare assistant but wanted to gain experience of nursing in Tanzania before her post graduate nursing course. Kara shares some of her most memorable experiences – some challenging and some amazing. 

The start of my project was tough. On my first day I saw a still birth, which obviously upset me and how their culture differed so much from the UK. Another upsetting moment, was arriving onto my shift and finding a baby who had passed away during the night – the nurses were aware of this, however, left him in the cot with the others (I presume this was to allow mum and family to visit and pay their respects). I stroked the baby once I realised and covered him back up. 

Kara on nursing placement in Tanzania

I went to theatre and saw two c-sections where I was able to gown up and observed the birth of two children. This was an incredible experience as I was able to see the effort they put in, how sterilised they could be, the drugs used as this wasn’t often observed. 

I also witnessed a lot of natural births, some having complications during labour and some without. This again was a phenomenal experience as I witnessed a new life being born into the world. I was also able to cut the cord of a baby; again, another memory I won’t forget.  

Kara on nursing placement in Tanzania

There was a few times too, where the volunteers and I would be left on our own. From this, we used our initiatives and reassured the mums, tried to speak to them in English to gain an understanding of the language barrier, check the mothers to see if they were opening and whether they needed to push, listening for the baby’s heartbeat with the equipment available and assist in the delivery of the births when the nurses had finished their meetings. 

The second week I was on minor injuries – where I looked after a little girl who had been hit by a motorbike and broke her tibula and fibula, she was heavily sedated and needed an X-ray which I assisted with. 

Kara on nursing placement in Tanzania

Another little girl who broke her elbow and a doctor held her waist whilst the other doctor put her elbow back in place. I held her hand, reassured her and calmed her down as she screamed throughout it. 

A baby of 6 months had an abscess on his arm and came to the department for it to be drained. He looked very worried as he was crying and mum had to stand back to allow the professionals work. I used my skills and knowledge and sung nursery rhymes to the little boy to settle him and make him feel at ease with the care he was receiving. After this, mum approached me and said “Asante sanar” which means thank you very much.

There was also a few dressing changes which I participated in. Playing with the children after the treatment they received with bubbles, balloons and the torches used for neurovascular observations. 

Tanzanian elephant

I also had the opportunity to visit the local orphanage for a day. I participated with the general care of the children; feeding, nappy changes, putting them down for a nap and playing with them in the garden. Around the room there were stories of what had happened to the children to make them attend the orphanage: some stories were; died during or shortly after child birth, abandoned in the market, Mum or families could not cope due to a number of children in the household and to return when they are eating solid foods.

I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity volunteering as a nurse in Tanzania. The time I spent there was definitely an experience that consisted of very high highs and at times very low lows! I really did enjoy the experience and met some amazing people along the way.

To follow in Kara’s footsteps, you can find out more here about our nursing project in Tanzania.