November 21, 2017, by studentcontributor
Mission Zambia 2017
On the 26th of June, eight of us first-years set out to the other side of the world on our Mission Zambia trip. It was a total of 17 hours flying and an additional 3-hour drive to Mwandi, a small town in the Western Province, where we were based. The town was small yet buzzing with character and the locals were extremely friendly, easy-going and fun. We stayed at the Home for AIDS Orphans’ camp site and spent our time building huts for vulnerable people who had lost their family to AIDS.
A typical day would start at 7am. Get up, get ready, have a quick peanut butter toast and on to the truck by 8am. It was a pretty bumpy ride to the site and with 10 people squeezed in to the back of a rusty pick-up truck, one can imagine it was enough to properly wake us all up. Kids from all around the village would smile and wave to us as we passed by and many would follow the truck running to greet us when we’d get off. The day was then spent building the hut, playing with the kids and arguing over which playlists to listen to. Gabbi and Bobby, the site coordinators, taught us everything from making mud using termite excretions to how to rap like Tupac Shakur!
We’d get back to camp at 4 and the rest of the afternoon was spent at our leisure until dinner. Some of us read whilst others napped in the sun. The thing I would look most forward to after work was the outdoor shower underneath the banana tree. After a day of hard labour, it was paradise! Dinner was usually a standard Western meal made by the lovely cooks on camp, Berri and Mary, and after we’d head over to the camp fire to have some drinks with a crazy view of the stars.
Aside from hut building, we were able to visit the Yeta District Hospital for an insight in to the Zambian healthcare system. Although short on medical resources, the hospital was clean and well-run. We listened to the stories of patients and saw how such a high prevalence of HIV affects the course of treatment for many. We also had a few days to be tourists and explore the markets as well as the beautiful Victoria Falls in Livingstone. One of the highlights of the trip was our safari in Botswana where we stayed in tents in the jungle and got to see an array of African animals in the wild – lions included!
Mission Zambia uniquely combined all the elements that make a trip so worth it – community service, adventure and friendship and I left with such great memories, I can’t wait to go back!
By Jahnavi Yadav, 2nd Year Medical Student