Meet Holly Jeffreys, a qualified Dietitian from the UK who took the opportunity to participate in a Nutrition internship in Tanzania with Intern Abroad HQ as a way of enriching her skills abroad. Find out how she found settling into a foreign environment, a new role, and the memories, empowerment and skills she came away with!
Why I loved living in Tanzania
My first week in Tanzania was eye opening. I arrived in Nairobi (before flying onward to Arusha) and was surprised by the heat and how small and remote the airport was! I never expected to find that almost all of those around me would be so open to getting to know one another. Here whole neighborhoods of people will know each other, and support one another as best they can.
Everyone has a profound respect for the older generations; regardless of whether they are a relation of theirs or not. They are treated with the utmost admiration by everyone. I felt overwhelmed initially at how willing people are on the street to speak to you. As for those that I lived with, they made me feel instantly accommodated, answering questions but also just accepting me as a new part of the furniture. It has made me really come to love and appreciate the need to look out for one another; I think it’s a part of the life here I would love to take home and carry forward.
My role as a Nutrition intern
During my internship, I worked alongside a nutritionist assisting patients in one of the hospitals in the center of Arusha. We supported those with malnutrition of all kinds - severe acute malnutrition in adults and children, post natal support, kidney disease (chronic and acute) as well as support with a variety of non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension for example). I attended wards to support re-nourishing acutely unwell patients - most commonly children - as well as attending a variety of outpatient clinics to work alongside the doctors and nurses, offering lifestyle and dietary change advice.
In offering this support to the hospital, the patients will directly benefit from my knowledge and suggestions. I also think that having interns there helps bring more attention to the benefits of nutritionists in the support of better diets. Every small step forward is one in the right direction!
Developing personally and professionally
I have always been interested in gaining international work experience so that I can achieve my long term goal of working abroad, delivering nutritional support and education to those who need it most. This internship has taught me so much - not just professionally but personally.
I now have a greater appreciation for how lucky I am in England to have the resources available to me as in and outside hospital. In Tanzania, so many of the people I spoke to have such limited resources that the changes/suggestions I made needed to be extremely mailable to their own circumstances. I have learnt to become an active listener and absorb what I am being told in order to think on the spot as to what I can offer; this is a skill that I can carry forward throughout my career, and I think will only add value to the service that I’m offering.
Building confidence in my field
I feel far more empowered having now completed my internship. I have always doubted my abilities to adjust and adapt to the circumstances in front of me, which is something I have needed to do daily while interning. I have left Tanzania far more confident in my abilities than when I arrived. Communication is also key in any healthcare role and is a skill I have really developed. I have worked with more translators in the last 4 months than I had ever done before and in doing so, I have really had to learn how to be concise yet remain effective with what I am saying.
I am excited to see how my work changes by using the skills I have strengthened in Tanzania, but also feel empowered to sign up for some more study to consolidate formally what I have learnt. I was so fortunate to work in such a friendly, motivated department. Everyone looked after one another, and cared about the way in which they presented themselves which brought a lot of comfort.
My favorite memory from interning in Tanzania
The day I spent doing Nutrition Outreach work in the Maasai community, I was totally taken aback by their engagement and interest in what I had to say. For me, the opportunity to work with a group of individuals who had very little, if any, nutrition education prior to this day was a significant achievement both personally and professionally.
I feel we mutually benefited from meeting one another: I was able to learn so much about a totally different culture and in return the Maasai were willing to adjust their diets based on my lesson. There were some hard questions thrown my way, but on reflection, that made me really appreciate the challenges they face in respect to diets.
If you’re considering a Nutrition internship in Tanzania…
Ensure that you are open minded to changes in timetables, and to be ready for the fact that people may not expect you, but so long as you are interested in them as much as they are in you, you can easily find a place for yourself. By welcoming the opportunity to both answer and ask questions, your role can be tailored to fit both your needs and, more importantly, the needs of those around you.
Have an open heart; expect differences but don’t jump to conclusions as to what these will be before you arrive. Immersing yourself into the culture around you allows you to fall in love with it. I think if you can try and always see the good in those around you, you will settle into the new environment naturally and with ease.
How can I get started?
Our step-by-step guide on how it works provides you with more information on how to get started. The process is user friendly and there are two options you can take to get the ball rolling.
If you’re unsure of which internship program is right for you, you can simply check availability to submit an enquiry which will help us to point you in the right direction. If you want to chat over the phone, you can also find our full contact information here.
If you already have an idea of what you want to do, and when you want to do it, you can submit your application. It doesn’t cost anything and won’t take more than 5 minutes. However, your formal expression of interest provides the foundation for us to help you take the next steps.