Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about an Act4Africa Medical Elective, along with our answers. However, always feel free to email or phone us if you need to know anything more; we will email back very quickly – or we would be very pleased to speak to you. See the Contact Us page or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What will I get from my elective?
Act4Africa prides itself on ensuring that as far as possible your elective is “tailor made” to suit your particular clinical interests but in general you will:
- Experience medical practice in a developing country
- Experience African culture and discover what impact the differences have on medical care
- See signs and symptoms of disease and to learn to recognise more florid signs of illnesses such as TB, not regularly seen in the UK
- Be a member of the medical team with hands-on experience of managing large numbers of patients
- Accompany doctors on clinic or runs to more remote areas and to be involved in health prevention activities in local villages
How and when, was Act4Africa founded?
Act4Africa has been operating as an organisation to reduce poverty and prevent disease since 2000 and is a non-profit making charity (1092074) registered both in the UK and in East Africa.
Our vision is to create a world where poverty is reduced and health and well being improved for the world’s poorest communities through dramatically different health education.
We deliver lifesaving HIV/ AIDS education to young people in Africa, battling the continent’s biggest killer in areas where many don’t even acknowledge the problem. Our mission statement is to provide a brighter future for Africa’s poor. The charity funds the work of in-country ‘Act4Africa’ NGO Partners in Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi to deliver a programme of education to promote gender equality, reduce HIV transmission and alleviate poverty. Our teaching methods are all interactive, fun and specifically designed to target young people.
- We are youth orientated
- We operate at grass roots level to ensure that we impact the most disadvantaged young Africans
- We deliver sexual and reproductive health education and gender justice for young girls aged 10-25
How many teams in Africa do you fund, and are they full time?
We currently fund and run four teams two in Uganda (Kasese, near the Congo border and Jinja on Lake Victoria), and one in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and another in Lilongwe Malawi. Our work has also taken us into communities in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Burundi.
How do you recruit the full-time African teams?
Primarily through our local African NGO partners. Most of our team members have experienced the impact of HIV/AIDS first hand and are desperately keen to change the future of the communities in which they live and work.
FAQs – Before you go
These questions relate to the time before you go overseas on your elective.
Where can I go?
Medical electives are currently offered in either Uganda, Tanzania or Malawi.
What types of programmes are available?
As far as practical we offer individually tailored programmes for Medical Electives. You choose the clinical rotations of interest and we will try our best to accommodate your wishes
How long do electives last?
We offer a range of experience from three weeks to several months. Most students choose four weeks but you choose which programme fits your schedule. We can arrange tailor made electives for individuals or groups of up to four students at any one time.
Can I combine elective locations?
Yes, you can combine an elective across two locations countries where dates allow.
When can I start? When should I apply?
We do generally need at least three months to comfortably process an application, but we like to receive your application form as far in advance as possible – so please apply as soon as you’ve decided what you want to do. The longer the notice, the more we can tailor a programme. If you decide last minute, do give us a call to see how quickly we can arrange it for you – we sometimes only need a few weeks’ notice.
What are the costs involved? Is the work paid?
Act4Africa electives cost for 2017 are £995 for four weeks in Uganda (additional weeks @£165/week), £1255 for four weeks in Tanzania (additional weeks @£195) and £1595 for four weeks in Malawi (additional weeks @£235/week). You will not be paid for your work, but you will gain amazing work experience and discover skills you never knew you had – and have a great time!
What do our charges include?
Our costs include airport pick-ups, food (breakfast and evening meal), accommodation and hospital fees as well as support from our expert staff at home and abroad. Unlike many commercial travel and gap year organisations we are a non profit making organisation (ie we are a registered charity) so you can fundraise for your trip. You can also be sure that 100% of the money you raise, over and above basic trip expenses, goes directly back into our project work in Africa, helping those most disadvantaged.
Are meals included in the cost?
With the exception of when you are travelling or socialising, you will be provided with two meals per day (breakfast and evening meal).
Can I go with my friend/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend?
Subject to references, friends in training are most welcome and, we offer one free place for every group of eight friends who make a confirmed booking.
Will I need injections?
This really depends on where you choose to go. As we are not medical experts, we cannot give out official advice – so talk to your GP, who will be happy to advice on what you may need. Don’t let injections put you off – you’ll be glad you had them once you are enjoying yourself abroad!
What age ranges take part in these projects?
Volunteers are welcome between the ages of 18 and 75. Many of our volunteers are between 18 and 25 years old.
Do I need the local language?
Few volunteers speak the local language before they go. It is an advantage to learn a few basic phrases but it is certainly not necessary to be at all fluent. English is generally spoken in Uganda and Malawi and in Tanzania there will usually be a local translator if necessary.
Do I need to be a British citizen?
No. We accept volunteers from all over the world and have taken students from Australia to Bahrain.
What is the selection procedure?
When you apply we ask you for the names and addresses of referees. We then get in touch with them and ask for a reference. This is usually enough to assure us that you are suitable for a placement. We occasionally invite prospective volunteers for an informal interview to iron out any concerns.
What do I gain from this programme?
The programme is an excellent opportunity to combine adventurous foreign travel with a worthwhile experience. As well as gaining amazing experience that looks brilliant on your CV or résumé, you will improve your transferable skills such as team-working, presentation and communication and leadership skills. Above all, this is an unrivalled opportunity to gain an insight into a completely different culture and way of life.
Can I fundraise for this elective?
Of course you can as we are a registered charity, though we certainly don’t say that you have to, however, some of our participants do and generally find this is easily achievable. Request a Fundraising Pack once you’ve applied to get some ideas.
Can I talk to people who have done it?
Contact us and we will be delighted to give you the email addresses of people who have done your kind of programme or are doing it. We would love you hear first-hand how amazing our electives experiences have been. In the meantime read the testimonials and blogs here.
What if I have more questions?
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our programmes in more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you would like to speak to us, call us on +44 (0)161 941 1435 or email us at email@example.com with your phone number and a convenient time to call and we will call you back.
What is the next step?
The next step is either to contact us for more information or, if you’ve decided definitely what you want to do, apply now. Application forms are downloadable here.
FAQs – While you’re away
These questions relate to the time you are overseas on an elective.
What is the support like overseas?
All our electives are based in locations where we have many years experience and we will have checked out your accommodation. Our in-country staff will meet you at the airport and provide you with any support you need should any problems occur. They won’t try to nanny you – but will always be there and can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Are the countries safe?
Before we go anywhere, countries must be politically stable and safe. If they are not, we don’t go. We are in constant contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding stability and safety and, of course, we have the added security of our local overseas staff. We reserve the right to cancel any elective if we feel that there are serious reservations about safety.
Will I be met at the airport?
Volunteers are met at the airport. There is no additional charge.
What if I am ill?
If you are ill while overseas, our local team manager will know where the best medical care can be found. You receive information on this during your induction when you first arrive, and of course you can reach our staff by phone in the event of a serious emergency. Your insurance should cover you for all eventualities and you should make sure you have medi-vac cover.
Will there be an opportunity to travel when I’m there and can I extend my stay while overseas?
During our electives there is time off for rest and recreation. Yes you can extend your stay at the end of the trip, (depending on visa requirements and flight restrictions), although you will need to cover any additional costs. If you want to extend your trip, just talk to our office staff.
Will I be on my own or are there going to be other students in the same area as me?
If you are on a “tailor made” medical elective/placement, you will where possible, be located in pairs and be close to other volunteers so that, if you want to, you can meet, exchange ideas and stories, socialize and go on trips with others. Volunteers usually make good friends with each other and often decide to go travelling together after their placements. You will never be isolated. You may even be placed in the same accommodation or workplace as one or two other volunteers. Although we cannot guarantee to meet all requests, please let us know if you have a preference regarding this.
Where do I stay? Who do I stay with?
Most medical electives accommodation is based in hostels, basic hotel accommodation or with a host family. You must not expect western standards but the accommodation is very good by local standards. You will not be in mud huts or shanty-towns (unless you specifically request this kind of experience). You may even be placed in the same accommodation or workplace as one or two other volunteers. This provides you with an insight into the local culture and helps with learning the local language. It also acts as an additional support network. Although we cannot guarantee to meet all requests, please let us know if you have a preference regarding this, or the type of area where you would like to stay.
What’s the best way to keep in touch with home while I’m away?
There is generally access to Internet cafes, though if you are placed in a rural area you may have to wait until you go into town to use them.
Do women encounter any special problems while traveling?
In general, women do not experience any more problems than perhaps the odd curious stare. However, when travelling, regardless of the country, women always need to be more careful than men. Providing you are aware of the possible dangers and prepared for the differences a foreign country will present to you, you should not have any problems. The two most important pieces of advice for a female traveller are to be aware of cultural differences (in the way people act or dress – do your research before you go) and always trust your gut instincts.