Ben McCaskill: Volunteer Nurse in Kenya

Working as a nursing volunteer in Kenya was an awesome learning experience, as well as a challenging and eye opening one.

I was placed in a large, rural referral hospital in an area called Kisii. I was able to rotate to different departments to gain a complete experience of nursing there.

This included surgical wards, medical wards, operating theatres, paediatrics and maternity. All staff that I met were very friendly and accommodating.

They were willing to teach me new skills and orientate me to their methods of practice. It was also a challenging experience at times and I felt my skills as a nurse were tested. I was also confronted often when observing the conditions in which patients received care, and the lack of medical devices and basic equipment staff were expected to work with. I was amazed at the skill level of staff and thought they cared for their patients extremely well considering their working conditions.

After 8 weeks in a rural area, I returned to Nairobi where I volunteered in a small health clinic in the Kibera (largest slum in Kenya) which cared predominantly for HIV patients. My knowledge of the virus and the treatments available was enhanced greatly during this time and I was placed in a position where once comfortable, I was able to contribute significantly with a certain level of autonomy. The clinic also served as an outpatient centre and I was able to assist in a number of emergencies. All staff, especially the doctors I worked alongside, were friendly and informative. I never feared for my own personal safety during my time there. However, I met female volunteers who said they were hassled often when walking the streets of the slum alone.

My two host families I stayed with during my time in Kenya were friendly, caring, helpful and flexible. I felt completely safe at all times and very much welcomed into their homes. I loved all the food and just experiencing life in another culture which was so different to my own. I will never forget the experience.

I felt adequately prepared for my volunteer trip to Kenya. All arrangements that were discussed beforehand with Cosmic were met satisfactorily. Any questions I had were responded to promptly and answered with detail. Scott was 100% accessible anytime that I needed him. Scott was also in contact with my parents and responded to any concerns they had.

On the whole, volunteering in Kenya has given me the insight to never forget how privileged and blessed I am to be born into the circumstances I was. The stressors and worries in my life seem so petty compared to so many people I met while in Kenya. To have the opportunity to and live so comfortably is something I should never take for granted given the hardships and bleak realities that millions in Kenya and billions around the world are faced with each day. I think this insight and experiencing life in the 3rd world first hand has been the greatest gift form my time abroad.

Ben McCaskill (Australia)
Medical / Nursing Volunteer in Kenya