A kinesiology degree is taking a Salmon Arm resident on an adventure to Africa.
Madison Trueman, who calls Salmon Arm home when she isn’t attending UBCO in Kelowna, is embarking on a four-month stay in Tanzania for two practicums.
During her time in Tanzania, Trueman will spend two months working alongside physiotherapists at a hospital in Dar es Salaam and then two months teaching primary and secondary school physical education in Arusha, just south of the Kenyan border.
Trueman began planning for the practicum in Tanzania nearly a year ago; she left on Jan. 8.
The practicums, as well as accommodation in Tanzania, is facilitated by an international organization called Projects Abroad, which arranges a variety of volunteer practicum placements in countries all over the world.
“We’re thrilled that Madison chose to volunteer her time in Tanzania. Our physiotherapy placements are not only some of the most challenging placements but are also some of our most rewarding. Volunteers like Madison really make an impact on these kids’ lives. We hope that other British Columbia residents will consider donating their time on a life-changing volunteer opportunity with Projects Abroad,” said vice president Thomas Pastorius Jr.
Trueman is in her fourth year at UBCO and would have graduated at the end of April if she was not going to Tanzania. Instead, she will graduate next January.
Tanzanian host families will be providing accommodation for Trueman while she is in the country. She received details about the family in Dar es Salaam who will host her.
Although they speak English, Trueman will have a language barrier to overcome because Swahili and French are the most prominent languages in Tanzania. She received an English-Swahili dictionary for her birthday in October.
“They speak pretty good English which is good because communication problems is one thing I was nervous about,” she said.
Trueman says she hasn’t been able to communicate with her host family very much due to the 10-hour time difference, but she has seen pictures of them.
“They have three kids, one of them is a baby. I’m really excited about that, I love kids.”
Trueman says she will not receive details about her host family in Arusha until she has been in Tanzania for a month.
Trueman hasn’t done much travelling, but a recent backpacking trip to Mexico with her sister and friends is part of what inspired her to go to Tanzania. She described her sister as a travel bug.
According to Trueman, the hospital she will be working at in Dar es Salaam is very modern; she hopes she can be a valuable addition to their team.
“I hope I can give them my knowledge and practical experience,” she said.
For her second practicum, in Arusha, a smaller community in the north of the country, Trueman will be assisting with physical education for children of all ages and running an after-school program for underprivileged kids.
Trueman says she has been a soccer player since she was able to kick a ball and played on the Varsity Rec team at UBCO.
Along with her athletic experience, Trueman says she plans to overcome communication issues with the kids using a visual communication board similar to one she used while working with the Canucks Autism Network. The Canucks Autism Network helps families with autistic children by assisting the children with after-school activities.
“It’s by far the hardest position I’ve ever done. It was very, very challenging,” she said. Despite the position’s challenges Trueman said it was very rewarding.
The practicums in Tanzania are not paid positions, and Trueman said her family and friends didn’t take her seriously when she said she planned to raise the $7,400 fee which covers accommodation, food and transportation herself.
In order to pay the fee, Trueman raised money by selling handmade items including face and dish cloths, scarves and Christmas tree ornaments.
“My parents weren’t happy with me this summer because I had a million different crafts going on at the same time but I was able to raise around $8,000,” she said.
Farmers markets in Salmon Arm waived table fees when Trueman was selling her wares and some shoppers at the markets simply donated money to her.
She is one of the first UBCO students to do a practicum with Projects Abroad and will be receiving credit for three courses towards her degree for the practicum.
While in Africa, Trueman plans to take two weeks off for a diving trip in Zanzibar.