Jessica Ann Dobrowlski: St. Anne’s student volunteers with medical project in rural Africa
“I wanted to travel outside the USA to learn about medicine and to sincerely make a difference,” says Jessica Ann Dobrowlski about her decision to volunteer abroad in Tanzania.
Jessica (17) joined the 2 Week High School Special medical project in early July. The program was organized by Projects Abroad, a global volunteering organization with placements all over the world.
Jessica is planning to become an ophthalmologist or cardiologist in the future so she found the experience very useful. “Projects Abroad provided medicine and care to those who would have never been helped in the areas outside of Arusha. The tasks varied, but each day we either went to workshops to learn about medicine in Tanzania, or to outreaches where we applied our knowledge and helped those who don’t have access to medical care.”
During the outreaches, the volunteers hosted a free clinic in areas where fresh water, food, and hospitals were largely unavailable. Jessica previously studied Kiswahili before arriving in Africa and her language skills proved critical to communicating with the patients.
“I was able to work in registration, where we used Kiswahili to record their information. I sat in consultation where I got to hear the symptoms, diagnosis, and what was prescribed for the issue. Finally, I and the other volunteers ran a pharmacy in order to fill the prescriptions for the patients.”
During her stay in Tanzania, Jessica was also able to learn a great deal about the culture.
“Everything in Tanzania is “pole pole” or slow slow. Also, everyone you meet is your mama, papa, kaka, or dada. Everyone is your family. This is such a comforting style of living.”
The volunteers took part in a variety of cultural and tourism excursions including cooking lessons, drumming and dancing, and safari trips to national parks and waterfalls. Jessica believes that it’s important to have an open mind and embrace a new way of thinking and living when volunteering abroad. “In spite of the less than luxurious circumstances, the people here in Arusha are ten times more friendly and charming. It’s the people that make the place, and Tanzanians make Arusha truly amazing!”
Read more about Medicine in Tanzania.