Medical Volunteering at a rural medical clinic in Namibia
$90 rate is a starting point for rates on a per person per night basis
The Lifeline Clinic based in Epukiro provides free primary healthcare services to more than 3,500 patients every year – through both clinic based healthcare and our outreach around the region. More than 40% of the patients treated there are children and more than 90% are San Bushmen.
A huge focus of our work at the Lifeline Clinic is to tackle the tuberculosis burden within the San population. The clinic is quite literally a lifeline for thousands of San Bushman.
Being a N/a’an ku sê Medical Volunteer is so much more than just being a medic. Be fully immersed in the culture of Epikuro, home to the San Bushman. Experience day-to-day life and the common struggles faced by the community. Work from within the clinic treating endemic issues like TB and help provide high quality healthcare to those who need it most.
You do not need medical skills. IT, DIY, painting or anything an isolated clinic can use are highly valued.
Reviews 0 Reviews0/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Moderate
During the project you will spend your time at our remote Lifeline Clinic, located in Omawewozonyanda (Pos 3), a rural village within the Epukiro Constituency of the Omaheke Region in which around 500 San and Herero people live.
The Lifeline Clinic treats around 3,500 patients each year. Approximately 80% of our patients are San, and the remainder are mostly Herero and Damara speaking Namibians. 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…read more about the clinical services.
You will help provide primary healthcare to the local community and surrounding areas by assisting our doctors and nurse. You will have the opportunity to provide hands-on support at the clinic, which includes checking measurements such as blood pressure, haemoglobin levels and mid-arm upper circumference, helping run reception and helping in the dispensary.
Your arrival and departure base will be our N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary close to Windhoek Airport. This provides you with the unique opportunity to work with the animals here for a few days. The Lifeline Clinic is approximately a 4-hour drive from the Sanctuary.
Work and activities
You will work alongside the clinic’s doctors 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 most in need of help.
Depending on the length of your stay and medical knowledge, 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 and urine tests for patients and recording findings;
- Weighing babies and recording growth charts;
- Blood pressure recordings;
- Glucose testing and recordings;
- Wound dressings and cleaning of wounds;
- Help in the pharmacy: stock control, packing medicines and new orders;
- Family planning;
- Substance abuse counselling;
- Data capture input;
- General maintenance and cleaning of the clinic; and
- 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.
- Transfer to and from the airport on a Monday or Thursday to the N/a‘an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Transfer from the N/a‘an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary to the Lifeline Clinic on a Sunday morning (alternate weeks).
- Accommodation at the Lifeline Clinic house and at the N/a‘an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary (includes towels and bedding).
- Food daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Full support and assistance from your program coordinator throughout your time at N/a‘an ku sê.
- Transfer from the airport to the N/a‘an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary on a non-transfer day (i.e. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday)
- Transfer from the N/a‘an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary to the Lifeline Clinic at times other than a Sunday morning
- Personal travel insurance
- All items of a personal nature e.g. curios, gifts, clothing, toiletries, etc.
- Snacks and alcoholic drinks
List of tasks
The very nature of volunteering does not lend itself to a daily itinerary that can be planned months in advance, rather, you will find yourself deeply involved in the current status of a particular project. Having said that, the daily routine could consist of anything along these lines:
Primary Healthcare: observations, reassurance to patients, treatments and emergency referrals;
Observations: pregnancy and urine tests for patients and recording findings;
Weighing babies and recording growth charts;
Blood pressure recordings;
Glucose testing and recordings;
Wound dressings and cleaning of wounds;
Help in the pharmacy: stock control, packing medicines and new orders;
Substance abuse counselling;
Data capture input;
General maintenance and cleaning of the clinic; and
Helping with projects around the clinic such as the vegetable garden.
While volunteering at the Lifeline Clinic you will stay in a bungalow house along with the resident doctor and nurse. Depending on volunteer numbers, you will have a room to yourself or share with another volunteer of the same gender. The house has a kitchen, bathroom and living room (with TV). Electricity and hot water are freely available.
Three meals a day are provided, which you prepare yourself together with your housemates. The evenings are free for relaxation from approximately 5pm, as are weekends. Free time can be spent visiting the local San Bushman village, playing with the local children or walking in the local area.
Volunteers contribute to N/a’an ku sê in two ways, physically and financially. Day to day maintenance of the Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as food preparation and feeding, is performed by our dedicated volunteers. For social animals like our baboons, volunteers provide vital daily interaction. In the case of research, volunteers join our research team to collect vital data on Namibia’s. Financially, the volunteering fee goes towards keeping the sanctuary running. Without this stream of revenue, we could not continue to provide homes and care to injured and orphaned wildlife
Absolutely! In fact N/a’ an ku sê encourages experiencing all aspects of our organisation. Tailor your trip to suit you by booking the full N/a’an ku sê experience. Explore the red dunes of Kanaan, track our released leopard, Lightning at Neuras, assist in providing free healthcare to the marginalised San Bushman community at our Lifeline Clinic and relax by the pool at our luxury charity Lodge. N/a’an ku sê has everything you need and combining volunteer projects is recommended for a full experience.
You can stay for a minimum of two weeks up to a maximum of three months.
We welcome volunteers from all across the globe and from any age above 18 years old! Those under 18 years can however attend some of our courses. There is no upper age restriction to joining us but please bear in mind you need to be fit enough for outdoor activities.
You need to speak English while working on our sites. If English is not your first language, you should be able to speak it reasonably fluently. The Lifeline Clinic employs local people who can translate from San, Afrikaans, Otjiherero and Damara into English.
No qualifications are necessary to volunteer and anyone can be a volunteer as long as they are prepared to work hard. Just bring a good attitude and you are ready to go!
Volunteering at the Wildlife Sanctuary gives you the rare opportunity to work hands on with Namibia’s wildlife. We actively participates in conservation, which means at any time volunteers can be whisked away to assist in carnivore releases or mitigation of human wildlife conflict. A whirlwind of exciting wildlife experiences, N/a’an ku sê provides you with the chance to make the wild your home.
With their diversity of wildlife amid spectacular scenery, Neuras, Kanaan and Mangetti are the perfect locations to become involved firsthand with all aspects of our carnivore and elephant research programme from data collection and processing to ample field experience.
You may also have the chance to be involved in humanitarian work with the San Bushman children at our Clever Cubs School or the Bushman at our Lifeline Clinic, providing vital education and healthcare to individuals of this ancient culture.
What will you get out of it? That is entirely up to you, but many people find their experiences to be life-changing. One thing is for sure, you will leave with experiences you have never had before.
The volunteering schedule works on a rotational group system, which ensures every volunteer gets to experience as many of the N/a’an ku sê activities as possible.
The groups work two to three activities a day between the hours of 8am and 5pm. Volunteers get a short break in the morning followed by lunch from 1pm-2:30pm.
Weekends are not part of the rotation schedule; on Saturdays, volunteers will participate in certain activities in the morning, and in the afternoon there will be a fun non-work related activity followed by a braai (barbecue). On Sunday, a small team will participate in food prep in the morning and a different small team will participate in the afternoon, so you will have half the day off. All non-working hours are free time to explore the sanctuary!
The N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary, Mangetti and the Lifeline Clinic are covered by Namibia’s main network provider MTC but some of the remote areas you may visit during your time there may not have reception. Neuras is a rural property and can be safely reached through a landline or in certain mobile reception hotspots. There is no phone reception at Kanaan but there is a landline.
It is worth considering buying a local SIM card to insert in your phone during your visit (giving you a Namibian number with an 081 prefix). You can then phone purchase “International bundles” from MTC that will enable you to phone home very reasonably. For more information see, http://www.mtc.com.na/services/pre-paid/international-voice-bundles
- If you plan to do this, you will need to get your phone unlocked before you leave.
- You can buy a local SIM card at the airport for only NAD 10.
- Phones using nano SIM’s may need a visit to Windhoek
Africa including Namibia is not gifted with great internet. N/a’an ku sê sites vary in their internet bandwidth and service. As such the offering to volunteers varies.
- N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary – WiFi is not available unless in case of emergencies.
- Lifeline Clinic offers internet with low bandwidth.
- Neuras offers a few hours in the evening to volunteers.
- Kanaan and Mangetti have no internet.
At N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary:
Depending on the season, volunteer numbers can range from 15 to 65.
At Kanaan Desert Retreat, Neuras Wine & Wildlife Estate and Mangetti Cattle Ranch:
We take up to 16 volunteers at a time at Kanaan and Neuras, and up to 8 volunteers at Mangetti, ensuring a comfortable and cozy environment where you are sure to receive quality time with the coordinator and your fellow volunteers as well as be able to take a hands-on role in all activities.
At The Lifeline Clinic:
Depending on the season, volunteer numbers range from 2 -6.