I arrived in Nairobi Kenya a week ago for a medical volunteer opportunity. I am a 4th year nursing student with a passion for global health and thought this would be a meaningful and exciting opportunity to both help and learn. Global Crossroads was extremely helpful in expediting my application and offering support in the process, answering all my questions very well. They connected me with the Kenyan country coordinator, Barnabas, who immediately touched base to begin the preparations to come to Kenya. He offered support and answered all my questions in a very timely manner!
Arriving in Nairobi was a smooth process due to good communication. Barnabas and Chris arranged to pick me up and Chris was waiting at the airport. They replied right away to my messages. I had a very warm welcome from Barnabas and his family at their home, and they made sure to answer all my questions and orientate me to the house. Throughout the week they have become like family, cooking delicious Kenyan meals and ensuring my needs are met. Their kids are adorable! I had the opportunity to go their church with them as well on Sunday.
Barnabas has always been caring, he makes sure to check in with me, give me directions, and makes sure I am safe. His team orientated me to the route to the clinic and made sure I am safe getting there. The clinic is located in Kibera; I was very concerned about safety before visiting Kibera but I found it is fine and the route is direct to the clinic. As long as I do not loiter on the path, I have never felt unsafe. Barnabas and his team have also have helped me buy a SIM card, load it multiple times, plan a safari, taken me on day tours, and helped me plan a weekend trip to Mombasa.
The clinic is in a church compound and has a doctor, a lab technician, a receptionist, and a dentist. They are such an awesome team. They were kind and supportive in orientating me to the Kenyan healthcare system, teaching me about medicines and diseases specific to this part of the world, and giving me opportunities to practice. Most people speak at least some English, though it helps to learn some words in Swahili. Be prepared to think outside the box and learn to do procedures etc. with fewer supplies than you may be used to.
The biggest concern I faced when deciding to come to Kenya was the safety. I had heard so many stories about how unsafe Kenya is. However, I find that as long as you are careful (as you should be in most places when travelling), take safety advice from the local team, and ensure Barnabas knows where you are, you will be fine. It has been such an amazing experience, and I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants an adventure and a great learning opportunity. I have not felt unsafe the entire time I have been here, and I walk to and from the clinic alone each day and have gone on a safari and other day tours.
Advice if you decide to come: Come with an open mind. Learn as much as you can. Be ready for water shortages if there is no rain (dry season). Be excited, because you are going to have such a great time!