Nursing Student Volunteers in Tanzania

Nursing student Sam Little '14 travelled to Tanzania this winter break to volunteer at a maternity clinic in the city of Arusha.

By Frank Radosevich II
January 16, 2013

Sam Little spent her winter break somewhere warm and far away from Bradley University.

But Little wasn’t lounging on beaches on the coast. Instead, she headed around the world on a volunteer mission to Tanzania. The junior nursing major gained a firsthand understanding of what it’s like to practice medicine in the town of Arusha while applying her skills at the Ngarenaro Maternity Clinic.

The public clinic includes a maternity ward where the babies are delivered and a children’s clinic for vaccinations and check-ups. During her 10-day stay, Little helped weigh newborns, assisted midwives during delivery and witnessed multiple births at the maternity clinic.

Little, from Washington, Illinois, said her nursing education prepared her well for her work as a volunteer. At Bradley, nursing students gain professional experience working a wide variety of clinicals in all realms of medical care.

“The differences between Tanzania healthcare compared to what I have learned are staggering but overall I really think my nursing education has helped me,” she said. “I just did my maternity clinical last semester at Bradley and I learned so much.”

Throughout her college career, Little has developed a love for other cultures and knows that her interest will serve her well as a nurse. Now, more than halfway through her program, she is considering joining Bradley’s Global Scholars Program, which offers students a strong background in cross-cultural studies.

“As a nurse it’s important to be culturally aware. I think it will help me in my career,” added Little.

While in Arusha, Little lived in a volunteer house with 12 other women from Australia, Great Britain, the United States, China and elsewhere. Morning showers were taken with cold water from a bucket before making the 15-minute walk from the gated house up to the main road.

Little said she was struck by the practical differences she observed at the clinic. In the ward, instruments were cleaned by dipping them in a bucket of bleach water, rinsing them off and placing them in a surgical cloth.

“It was very interesting to see the differences. We helped the midwives with the delivery. I got to listen to the fetal heart beat with the instrument that they use,” she said. “I have viewed a birth in America and so I was able to compare and help the midwife with the process.”

When she wasn’t volunteering, Little took full advantage of exploring her new surroundings.

“Tanzania is amazing,” she said. “I hiked to a waterfall down in Mt. Meru, which is a mountain here in Arusha. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”