During the project you will spend your time at our remote San Bushman clinic in rural east Namibia. The village homes around 500 San and Herero villagers and the clinic is at the heart of the community. Here, you will assist our Doctor and Nurse with the running of the Lifeline Clinic and help provide primary healthcare to the local community. You will provide hands on support at the clinic, participating in observations, running reception and helping in the dispensary. You will deal closely with patients from the local San community, learn more about their way of life and give care to patients living in extreme poverty at the clinic’s remote location.
Lifeline Medical Clinic
The clinic is dedicated to the health and welfare of the San Bushman community. The San are considered to be the oldest culture in the world and are traditionally hunter gatherers. They have been forced from their original lands, which are increasingly being used for grazing cattle, leaving the San unable to survive in their traditional lifestyle. Bushman are treated as third class citizens and live in extreme poverty. The clinic is committed to improving the lives of the San community through education, healthcare and better living conditions. Our aim is to give the next generation of this poverty stricken community the education, healthcare and help they need to survive and build a brighter, healthier future.
Our Doctor and Nurse, with the support of San translators, treat around 3,000 patients every year. Approximately 40% are children and 70% of these are under 5 years old. TB and HIV are prevalent in the community as is alcoholism. We also see a lot of patients with aches and pains, and everyday problems. Common diseases amongst our child patients include fungal infections, intestinal worms, diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition and mouth infections (e.g. oral thrush). By themselves, these infections and illnesses may not be particularly severe, however if left untreated they will get much worse leading to complications and in severe cases even death.
In addition to our GP clinic, our Doctor also carries out regular outreach work at Pos 10 Primary School and Skoonheid, a resettlement programme, in support of a friend and fellow, Doctor Helene de Kok. We also hand out donations of clothes, shoes, soap and toothbrushes to adults and children where possible.
Our Lifeline Clinic has received international recognition for the work we do. The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Richard Kamwi, is patron of the clinic and in December 2010 we were awarded first place in the Community Health Awards, by the International Health Promotion Awards, held in Rome, Italy.
At our rural clinic in the remote area of Epukiro you will work alongside the clinic’s Doctor and Nurse to learn about the common diseases affecting the local population and how to treat them. You will deal closely with patients from the local San community, learn more about their way of life and give care to patients living in extreme poverty at the clinic’s remote location. The teaching will be tailored to your skill level, background and knowledge.
Prospective medical students can expect teaching on basic clinical skills, history taking and examinations of patients. Trained professionals will be asked to run consultations with patients and assist during the outreach work. This will provide a great opportunity for trained professionals to have a greater impact on the people who are at most in need of help.
Depending on the length of your stay, you may be asked to undertake a research project/assignment. This should be something that you are interested in, as well as be something that is useful to the clinic and of benefit to our patients. Examples of projects include mapping distances patients travel to the clinic and local patterns of disease, rates of TB amongst our patients and compliance with medication, and our patients’ knowledge of HIV transmission and disease.
Whatever your background or experience, you shall assist with the daily duties which may include:
- Primary Healthcare: observations, reassurance to patients, treatments and emergency referrals
- Observations: pregnancy tests, and urine tests for patients and recording findings
- Weighing babies and recording growth charts
- Blood pressure recordings
- Glucose testing and recording
- Wound dressings and cleaning of wounds
- Help in the pharmacy: stock control, packing medicines and new orders
- Family planning
- Substance abuse counselling
- Financial record keeping and data capture input
- Accompanying the nurse into the community to carry out procedures
- General maintenance and cleaning of the clinic
- Helping with projects around the clinic such as the vegetable garden
Volunteers often have special skills that are invaluable to the clinic and we encourage you to use them and suggest new activities that you feel the project will benefit from.
Please note: Itineraries and activities are subject to change.
Depending on your length of stay with us, you may also get the opportunity to spend some of your time participating in the Wildlife Volunteer project at our sanctuary near Windhoek. This project offers the rare and exciting opportunity to help care for orphaned and injured African wildlife.
The sanctuary currently provides a safe refuge for orphaned and injured wildlife including a number of lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, caracals and baboons. Our Wildlife Volunteers provide an important resource in caring for and feeding the animals on a daily basis, helping to maintain and develop the sanctuary and becoming surrogate parents to our orphaned baby baboons, bottle feeding and sleeping overnight with them.
Please be flexible as the time spent at the sanctuary and the clinic will depend on resources and timetables of other volunteers and activities. Please advise if you are interested in working at the sanctuary as part of your time with us.
Food and Accommodation
While volunteering at the Lifeline Clinic you will stay in a modern bungalow house along with the resident Doctor and Nurse. Depending on volunteer numbers, you will have a room to yourself or share with one other of the same gender. The house has a kitchen, bathroom and living room (with TV) and electricity and hot water are freely available.
You will receive three meals each day which you shall prepare yourself together with your housemates. The evenings are yours to relax from approximately 5pm, as well as weekends. Free time can be spent visiting the local San Bushman village, playing football with the local children or visiting nearby villages to learn more about the San community.
We have two options of accommodation; communal volunteer houses with up to three people (same gender) sharing each room, or large tents with a living and bedroom area for 1 or 2 people. Shower and toilet facilities are communal and electricity and hot water are run by solar and usually freely available. Three meals a day are cooked for you and typically include meat, vegetables, potatoes and rice.
During your time based at the Sanctuary, you may enjoy activities such as a nature walk across the farm, swimming in our pool or waterfall, playing football against the Bushman or rock climbing, followed by a sunset downer and braai (barbeque)! You will also have the opportunity to go into Windhoek on Sundays or go for lunch/dinner or even an overnight stay at our luxury lodge.
Your arrival and departure base will be our NamibianWildlife Sanctuary, near Windhoek Airport, so if you choose you can also have the unique opportunity to stay here a few days and work with the animals here. The Lifeline Clinic is in Epukiro (or Pos 3 as it’s commonly known), approximately a 5 hour drive from the sanctuary and we will arrange all your transfers.
PLEASE NOTE You will need to arrive on a MONDAY or THURSDAY for your inclusive transfers.
OPTIONAL EXTRA ACTIVITIES AT THE SANCTUARY
Sunday town trip – we offer a transfer into Windhoek for N$150pp, where you can visit the mall to pick up supplies and have a leisurely lunch at the famous Joe’s Beerhouse (cost of lunch and drinks not included in the transfer cost). We always need some volunteers to help out with feeding the animals on a Sunday and there are a limited number of places so please note you will not be able to go every week.
Stay at our luxury Guest Lodge – why not treat yourself to a bit of luxury during your time with us. You can book a 1 or 2 nights stay or a Sunday lunch at our Lodge at a special volunteer rate. Here you can sleep in luxury, relax with a drink, take a swim in the pool and enjoy the tranquil and stunning surroundings. You can organise your stay once you reach the project or email us in advance.