Kurayi Mahachi finds inspiration in Togo
Twenty-two year old Zimbabwean, Kurayi Mahachi, graduate of Luther College, traveled to Togo to volunteer with Projects Abroad on a medical project. His stay in Togo has been meaningful to him. “My experience in Togo has been one full of ups and downs, and I learnt a plethora of things, not only about Togo’s culture, but also about how medical labs work and where I see myself in the long run. Each day has brought a new adventure, from the crazy 6am soccer games on the beach to the interesting interactions of the grand market. Working in a public health lab was a nervous experience as well, as it introduced me to the inner workings of the public health sector and why it plays such a key role in Epidemiology. Furthermore I learnt that the lab was not all work all the time, but a good place to form bonds and discuss life events. I also had my eyes opened to the plight of orphans hidden in the hustle and bustle of Togo and found that helping those in need helped me a great deal too. Life in Togo has been an eye opening experience for me and I know I will take a great deal of knowledge with me on my journey back to the USA.”
Kurayi was placed at the National Institute of Hygiene. A typical day at his work place included collecting blood samples, registering them, and testing the samples for what was requested by their doctor.
“The lab life was no exception to the overwhelming sense of kindness and unity that I encountered in Togo. From the word go I was embraced with open arms and curious minds. No matter the person’s physical appearance they were overly welcoming and in some aspects they spoon-fed me information so as to ensure I was never lost. The lab gave me countless lessons in both the public health world but also a few good life lessons too. I learnt how to analyze blood and urine and how to interpret the results for a wide field of diseases such as HIV, Typhoid, Sickle cell anemia, bacterial infections, and many more.”
“It was not all work all the time, and on many occasions I found myself imbedded in a discussion on politics, soccer, or just what love is all about. I also encountered many funny moments where each person recounted a moment that just oozed of humor. The lab life led to many bonds with many people so much so we called each other brother and sister like a big family. This family bond followed each of us outside the lab too, as I found out when I was invited to play soccer with the other lab workers each Saturday morning, and often received dinner or lunch invitations. A lab where everyone seems so serious actually turned out to be a fun and welcoming place, but furthermore a place where hard work and concentration was key, in the end it turned out to be a truly a magical experience that helped me grow a great deal.”
“In the days to come I encountered a rather odd group of young men who spent their days, darting here and there as they tried to sell their “hand crafted goods,” at first I tried to avoid them, but soon I was swept up by their charm and charisma, shortly after I was inducted into their street family. Through them I learnt about the inner workings of Togo street life, their hardships, and short comings and also the pride they had for their culture and how that pride defined and drove them ever forward. Shortly afterwards I was introduced to the love of soccer that many Togolese people share, due to my stumbling upon a massive beach soccer party, where hundreds of people set up teams and played from sunrise to 8am. The sense of unity and kindness that was emitted from the teams of men, women, and even children was truly heart-warming, and gives a cynical young man a sense of hope for Africa.”
“In regards to concentration, a place where focusing on one thing is somewhat an impossible task was at the orphanage, which a great deal of children call home. It was a somewhat saddening place not just because some of the children that live there had no family, but also because some children had a family that could not afford to keep them. The sadness was hidden well by the smiling faces that always greeted us when we arrived to provide medical aid to those in need. Their bright, curious eyes, their gentle timid demeanor, helping these little bundles of hope made the sadness of their living situation a little more bearable. My experience with the children shocked me, not because of how they lived but because of the hopes and dreams they possess, such as the young girl who wished to become a doctor, to the young boy working his way up the fashion designer ladder, each dream ignited my passion for science and made me remember why I wanted to work with an NGO and also why I studied medicine. They helped me find myself and helped me grow so much even though I was the one helping them.”
For Kurayi, the work experience he has received by being in Togo will be very useful for his future because “for my courses, I cannot pass without a valid amount of internship experience. At the end of the road I can say I have never felt so different as I do now, when I look back at the path I took, at the things I did and saw I can safely say the boy that came to Togo is gone and the man I am now is ready to move forward, and bring what learned and the experienced I gained with me.”
Read more about Medicine in Togo.
This news story includes references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.