Since 2003 we have been organising medical elective placements through Adventure Alternative for students interested in combining their elective with the experience of differing lifestyles, cultures and medical practice and treatment in developing countries. 

We are very keen that the medical students not only go to Kenya and gain valuable practical knowledge and experience but also give something back to the community they visited.

We encourage them to raise some money for the work that Moving Mountains is doing in Kenya related to health care, community health programmes, public health campaigns and especially health care for the street children who we support with feeding programmes and vocational opportunities. 

There are also opportunities for medical students to help and volunteer outside their elective rota, and get involved with local community events to do with public health and free health checks in the villages. 

The elective program is not only open to Medical students; we also have elective opportunities available for Midwifery, Physiotherapy, Dentistry, Public Health and Nursing students too. We can also cater for professional placements and work experience. But we would always ask that each participant does some fundraising to give back to the community.  

Above: Video by a former Medical Student give a personal insight in to what an Elective in Kenya could be like!

Time to help others

The logistics of your trip to Kenya on a medical elective is managed by Adventure Alternative who provide all the transport and accommodation and staff support. When you arrive in Kenya the hospital staff will discuss with you all about rotas and time expectations, what departments you will be in and who you will be working with. All of this you can arrange in advance with the Adventure Alternative office.

There is normally plenty of time during your elective to go on weekend visits to see the country, have a safari or go to the coast, and socialise with new friends. But there are many opportunities and we would like to ask that elective students consider getting involved with the charity and doing some fundraising as well.

You could help with some local events like a free health check in a school, or a lecture to mothers on looking after their babies at the children's centre, or buying mosquito nets and giving them to the villagers. In Embu we have a feeding programme for street children and it would be great if people helped out there on the weekends for example. During your trip to Kenya we hope you will have time to help others and support the charity. 

Local benefits of a medical elective support

The medical student on an elective clearly provides additional resources to a clinic or hospital, providing health care to patients and benefitting the community in that catchment area. Many clinics come to rely on foreign visitors and therefore the link they have with Moving Mountains is very important. As a charity we are providing the link between them and people on elective, and we do always pay those institutions for hosting an elective student. The hospitals have specific charges for providing supervision and often lectures, which are part of the elective fee that is charged by Adventure Alternative. 

Apart from this obvious link and financial benefit though, there is a great opportunity for us as a charity to encourage a visitor to fundraise and support our work, and also to get involved with local events. 

For example a medical student might fundraise for 500 mosquito nets and then help donate them to the villagers nearby. Or a donation might contribute to a local campaign for safe sex, or it might help us pay some community health workers to look after bedridden patients who cannot come to hospital. 

It would also help us pay for some of our long running programmes, most importantly the employment of a child counsellor, social workers and community nurses who have an impact on many hundreds of people. 

Medical Elective role model 

Without doubt you will witness the strong links between Moving Mountains and the clinics and hospitals that you are placed in. As such you will be an ambassador to Moving Mountains and there will be many people looking to you as a role model. However, you are not expected to see patients as a qualified Doctor, and it is important that you make it clear to the medical supervisor that your role is limited in this respect, and that the patients have the right to know if they are being seen by a student. Clearly a foreign visitor can create expectations so your ability to communicate is important, as well as our responsibility to create intelligent relationships. 

Moving Mountains has successfully assisted many people and projects around the country. To be able to do this in countries where corruption is a common human trait is no easy task. It takes careful assessment, implementation and management over many years. It also takes years to understand the principles of aid and charity within such communities. Any charitable donations should be made through the appropriate channels and advice should always be sought from our staff.