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Naturally Africa Volunteers

Medical & Healthcare Supporter

Monkey Bay, Malawi

Teach and assist local volunteers in providing community health support, attend HIV support groups & take part in a malaria prevention program.

Background

Hospitals and clinics in Africa are often seriously understaffed, lacking in resources and welcome assistance from volunteers.  As part of a well managed project we can provide effective support to these medical centres and provide you with invaluable experience, without imposing an even greater burden on already overworked staff.

Equally as vital are the medical outreach projects that you may be involved with.  These involve education and awareness about preventable diseases, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS and care and support for those affected by them.  Many people living in poverty do not have access to proper medical care and cannot, or will not, go to receive treatment.  Voluntary and home based care programs, providing basic training, can make a huge difference to the standard of living in these situations.

The governmental health care system in Malawi is organised into three levels.  Local health care centres deal with the most common and easily treated problems and offer maternity services.  More serious cases that cannot be dealt with at this level are referred to district community hospitals, which provide secondary health care, including some basic types of surgery.  Tertiary care is then offered at one of the 3 central hospitals, situated in the North, Central and Southern regions.

However, access to these health services and facilities is poor.  The majority of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas and cannot afford or is unable to reach these centres easily.  Over half the population lives below the poverty line, and Malawi faces constant food uncertainty, high levels of malnutrition and high birth and dependency rates.  Malawi is amongst the 10 countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and has a high prevalence of malaria.

About the Program

This is a diverse medical volunteer and health care project with huge potential to improve the standard of primary care and support provided to rural communities in Malawi. The project has a strong emphasis on education and awareness, as well as a supporting role in the provision of medical treatment. Volunteers with different levels of experience can be of assistance, either in the outreach work in the community or at under resourced medical clinics.

This program aims to address some of these issues at a local level through education, awareness and improved access to primary health care.

Our medical volunteer project focuses on education with the aim of improving health in the community we support in the long term. The program is divided into three parts: wound care, HIV support groups and Home Based Care training.

1) Home Based Care

Plan and present lessons to groups of local volunteers on home based care topics, including HIV/AIDS, malaria prevention, personal hygiene, drug administration, recording information, first aid, wound care, bed bathing, infection prevention, sexual health awareness, nutrition and digestion, TB and rehabilitation.

Carry out home visits to chronically ill patients, which forms a valuable part of the training for the local volunteers to become home based care providers.

2) Wound Care

The wound care takes place on set mornings in different villages and forms part of the Home Based Care education.  Volunteers are involved in cleaning wounds, basic dressing and bandaging and making referrals to hospital for more serious wounds, or if further treatment or antibiotics are required.

3) HIV/AIDS awareness

This program aims to increase the awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS, in order to reduce the stigma associated with the disease and educate local communities about prevention and treatment.

Provide support and counselling through community groups for those living with HIV/AIDS.  This may also include nutritional advice and information about other related diseases.

Encourage and assist with drama workshops and presentations by those living with HIV/AIDS to the communities in surrounding villages.

Provide training to local volunteers, as part of a sustainable community home based care program.

Highlights

  • Assist and gain valuable experience in the provision of primary medical treatment and care.
  • Create awareness and help to reduce the incidence of epidemic diseases in Malawi, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.
  • Provide care and basic education to disadvantaged children.
  • Be welcomed as part of a community and help them to become more self-sufficient.

This program is suitable for people of different levels, from those who are looking at a medical career and want to get experience prior to further education, to students and qualified doctors or nurses. How you participate in activities will depend on your level of experience. There may also be options to take part in our malaria prevention program. Please let us  know if you want to volunteer as part in the program as a credit towards your course. It may be possible to spend time in a local clinic or hospital.

Typical day

Your daily routine may vary, depending on what areas you are involved with, the season and the needs of the project whilst you are in Malawi.

However, you will usually leave the house at 07.30 for your morning activity and return late morning.  You will then have a welcome lunch break during the hottest part of the day.  Afternoon sessions generally start at 14.00-14.30 until about 17.00 and take place Monday to Thursday.  Friday afternoon is free time, as you may be departing on an organised weekend excursion.

The project co-ordinators will try to involve you in the activities that are of greatest interest to you where possible.  However, please be flexible, as we rely on volunteers to maintain the continuity of certain programs and activities and if there are relatively few medical volunteers when you are in Malawi these activities will take priority.

Mornings will usually be spent at practical wound care sessions, this is part of our Home Based Care training for local volunteers. You will be able to assist volunteers in correct wound dressings and advise on how to care for a wound at home, regular washing and the importance of keeping the area clean. Any severe cases are always advised to seek attention at hospitals, however in reality after the first hospital visit it can be difficult or impossible for people to return for redressing every few days due to the distance so local volunteers being able to provide this in the community addresses this problem.

In the afternoons you will usually alternate each day between HIV support groups and Home Based Care training groups. These sessions will take you into the heart of different villages. The Home Based Care training prepares local volunteers with the knowledge to provide a first point of support and in the longer term palliative care to patients. During these sessions you will cover a range of topics, from basic hygiene and the importance of hand washing to more detailed subjects such as first aid and how to provide palliative care to a patient. Each Home Based Care group consists of 5 male and 5 female volunteers, you will spend part of the sessions teaching and part visiting people’s homes to put theory into practice.

Two afternoons per week will be spent at HIV support groups, these exist as a non-judgemental place for patients suffering from HIV to come together in a community where people are often otherwise stigmatised. Your role in the group will adapt to what the group wants, sometimes this can be to hold a discussion group on different topics related to the illness, at other times it will be more practical provision of information and teaching of ways to alleviate side effects of the medication or the best foods to eat to provide good nutrition.

Details on Arrival

You will arrive best on Monday evening and are likely to be fairly tired after travelling, so you will settle in to your room and meet the rest of the volunteers.

On Tuesday morning you will receive an orientation, which will cover:
  • An overview of Malawian culture
  • Basic local language phrases
  • Health and safety tips for Malawi
  • An introduction to some of the project staff
  • Money matters and transport in Malawi
  • Background information and your role at the medical project
  • Project ethics and code of conduct
  • Possible highlights to visit in your free time
In the afternoon you will have a quick tour of the local area and nearest town.  You will have the opportunity to visit the local market there to buy cheaply priced local material for wrap-around skirts if you wish to. 

 

Registration

For medical students:

We require a copy of your CV, passport, a letter of good standing from your Uni that confirms the course you are registered on and student number, transcript of modules studied/experience gained, any relevant medical qualification certificates and a completed registration application form. 

You will need to bring the original copies with you, along with 2 passport size photos and US $315 registration fee, as on arrival we take you to Medical Council for a short informal interview and to complete registration.

For qualified professionals (nurses/doctors):

We require a copy of your CV, passport, a letter of good standing and proof of registration with the Medical/Nursing Council of your country of residence, medical qualification certificates, completed registration application and statutory declaration forms.

You will need to bring the original copies with you, along with 2 passport size photos and US $200 registration fee for qualified nurses or US $440 for most other medical professionals, as on arrival we take you to Nursing/Medical Council for a short informal interview and to complete registration.

Orientation

For nurses, there is an initial 3-week orientation period required at the local District hospital prior to being placed at the rural hospital and being properly involved with the other medical outreach areas of the project.  This usually commences on the Monday after you arrive, at the start of week 2, and is 5 full days each week.

Medical students and other medical professionals can complete orientation at the rural hospital and hence be involved with the medical outreach at the same time.  

On the first day of this orientation we will drive you to the District Hospital in the project vehicle and introduce you to the hospital staff.  For the remaining days you will be required to take ‘matolas’/minibuses (public transport) at your own expense, which costs about MWK1250 each way (less than US$2).

Free-time activities

Malawi has previously been in Lonely Planet's top 5 for best in travel destinations. The project is based in a beautiful beach location in the South of Malawi, the volunteer cottage overlooks Lake Malawi. Mountainous areas and Safari destinations are within easy reach, within a few hours of our project location. It really does have something for everyone, with every budget. 

You can spend your weekends relaxing at the beach, diving, horse riding, kayaking to a remote island, hiking or wildlife watching. There are historic several historic sights that can be visited. You may wish to spend some weekends at the volunteer cottage, immersing yourself in the local community, getting to know the culture, walking to nearby villages, watching traditional dancing, or going to school sports tournaments.

Water Sports
Swimming
Diving/Snorkling
Safari/Zoo
Hiking
Sports
Riding

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Health Declaration
required
Criminal Background Check
required
Education Requirements
at TEFL level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
People who have relevant health care experience, students or those looking to pursue a career in health care may apply.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Suitable for

Singles
Couples

Any questions? Just ask. We at Naturally Africa Volunteers are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation
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Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Naturally Africa Volunteers.
Services by Naturally Africa Volunteers

Your program fee covers transfers to and from Lilongwe International airport on set arrival and departure dates, your accommodation whilst at the project, 3 meals per day and 24/7 support from our onsite coordinators.

Airport Pickup at Lilongwe International Airport

When arriving on one of our set arrival dates you will be met at the airport by one of our coordinators and transferred to the cottage in the volunteer minibus, this is included in the program fee. The volunteer cottage is approximately a 3.5 hour journey away. If you book to arrive outside of the usual arrival and departure dates you will need to pay for a private transfer which we will be happy to arrange for you, the cost is usually around $175.

Accommodation

You will stay in a shared volunteer house in a village at the southern end of Lake Malawi.  The house is located in a fantastic spot on the edge of Lake Malawi and within a rural community.  Malawi is very safe, as is the area that you will be volunteering in, but the house is also fenced and gated to provide additional security and privacy.  You can relax in the sunshine in the spacious garden in your free time or cool off in the lake.

Most project activities are within walking or cycling distance of the house, but occasionally you may also be driven.

Volunteers share large bedrooms at the house, either with ensuite or a shared bathroom. There are western style flush toilets and showers; the water is cold, but this is usually welcome after a day volunteering in the heat of Malawi. The house has electricity, but power cuts are fairly common and sometimes last for up to a few hours.

Bungalow
Food & Beverages

The staff at the house includes a cook who will prepare your meals, a housekeeper to do most of the cleaning (although volunteers are expected to contribute to keeping the house tidy and clean up after themselves) and night watchmen.

You will be provided with three meals a day.  Breakfast is generally toast, pancakes or porridge and tea/coffee.  Lunch is self-service, along the lines of pasta, soups, sandwiches, or similar, or a packed lunch can be provided if you are not planning to return to the house to eat.  A hot dinner will be prepared for your evening meal.  The cooks do a great job of catering for everyone and accommodating most special dietary requirements.  However, please bear in mind that supplies and choice of ingredients can be limited, seasonally available or imported and very expensive in Malawi, so there is not always the widest variety of food on offer.

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Lilongwe International Airport (LLW) in Lilongwe. We assist you to find cheap flights to Malawi.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Malawi provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Malawi you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Malawi.
Costs (Prices in USD)
4 weeks (min. stay)
$1,425.00
5 weeks
$1,650.00
6 weeks
$1,875.00
7 weeks
$2,100.00
8 weeks
$2,325.00
9 weeks
$2,550.00
12 weeks (max. stay)
$3,225.00
Average fees
$313.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Monkey Bay/Malawi between 4 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Naturally Africa Volunteers will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Malawi.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Naturally Africa Volunteers during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
Africa Eastern Africa Malawi Monkey Bay, Monkey Bay
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