Out of Africa: Students' reflections on the personal and professional impact of volunteering
In the summer of 2018, two student midwives from the University of Northampton independently researched and signed up to a 2-week overseas mission trip to Kenya, with the aim of immersing themselves in a different culture to gain new knowledge and develop transferable skills to embed into their practice in the UK. Charlotte Ames and Adelle Boughen also visited a number of projects around the region supporting girls and young women who have fled their homes to escape injustices such as underage marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic abuse. Hearing the young women's stories of bravery, resilience and optimism have had a profound effect on both Charlotte and Adelle, providing them with a new understanding of the term ‘with woman’ and influencing their future practice.
Charlotte Ames and Adelle Boughen wanted the opportunity to be involved with women and families living in underprivileged communities in a different country to understand the effect of extreme poverty on health and wellbeing in a different geographical and cultural context. While clinical placements in the UK are varied and expose student midwives to a range of settings, this trip provided a unique opportunity for more diverse experiences for additional personal and professional growth. After undertaking extensive research, they chose to travel with Mission Direct, a not-for-profit organisation, where volunteers join a 2-week overseas mission trip to build homes, schools, classrooms, hospitals and rescue centres (Mission Direct, 2018).
Although the reason for the trip was to help with the building works at Nkapilili School in Narok, Kenya, Charlotte and Adelle visited the local maternity unit and projects such as The House of Hope; the Mission with a Vision and The Fountain of Life. They were unprepared for the profound, long-term effect that these visits would have on them, both personally and professionally.
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