Lauren Crozier - Medicine & Healthcare in Togo
I’m Northern Irish and I went to Togo in mid-September last year for three months during my Gap Year before hopefully studying Medicine in the UK.
Arriving in Togo
When I first arrived in Togo I had traveled for the best part of a day and was really exhausted. Once I eventually sorted everything with my visa I was relieved to meet the Projects Abroad staff, Delphine and Koffi, who couldn’t have been friendlier. I have to admit once in Lomé Airport I wasn’t immediately convinced I was going to enjoy myself, but when I got into the car and we started to drive through the area I would now call home, I instantly adored it.
This was the beginning of my love affair with Togo! I remember being shocked by the number of people Koffi knew because he kept beeping the horn - the only real reason we ever do that here in Northern Ireland; but I now know that that’s not the case in Togo and I always laugh when thinking about this and other things I saw differently before I became ‘habituée’!
My Medical project
I would get up at about 6:30 every morning to leave the house by moto-taxi at around 7:00 and be in the hospital for 7:15 for prayers. At l’Hopital Regina Pacis, as I haven’t studied yet, I was mainly there for observation and experience. I found staff incredibly welcoming and saw things ranging from everyday vaccinations to road accident injuries, and started each day with a ward round and staff meeting.
Another good point about this project is the opportunity to see the differences between the healthcare system wherever you come from and in Togo.
After going home to have lunch with my housemates, I then went to an orphanage for the afternoon where I fed and dressed the younger children, played, did puzzles, helped with homework and basically helped with anything they were already doing. It was really great to read with the children in French, to help them with their English and with homework.
They are so grateful for any help you can give them and are eager to learn so you can’t help but love doing it! The children ranged from babies to adolescents which meant I could help in so many different ways.
My Medical project tied in with Care as each Wednesday I visited a different orphanage with the Medical Coordinator to talk about a local disease, Le Noma, and how to prevent this. We also revisited one of the orphanages to do vaccinations for the children which had been donated by volunteers who worked there.
My Togo Experience
My Togo experience was like nothing I’ve ever done before. I have to say I’ve never met people nicer than those I have in Togo – including my host family who made me feel like part of the family as soon as I arrived.
I learnt a lot through my projects and have experienced things I would have otherwise never had the opportunity to. It’s great to get a realistic view of life in Togo and to meet so many brilliant people from all over the world. I would honestly only change one part of my experience; I would have stayed longer!