The Gold Scholarship (GSP) Opportunities Fund exists to help our Gold Scholars undertake personal development opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. Here’s third-year Biomedical Sciences student and Gold Scholar Ghazala Al Ous’ experience:
Thanks to a grant of £1,400 from the GSP Opportunities Fund, I spent two weeks volunteering with an organisation called Medical Volunteers International (MVI) in Athens in September last year. I enjoyed meeting new people who loved to share their knowledge and skills to help vulnerable people in hard situations.
When I arrived in Greece, I was shocked to see the police on the street. When I asked about that, they told me they were cleaning the area from refugees because the government had changed in June. I felt like I was back in one of Syria’s streets during the war.
At one of the (very busy!) clinics I worked at, we met lots of patients from Syria – both adults and children. Each family had two or three patients, not just one. Most of these patients had bad chest infections or bad skin rashes, and other chronic diseases requiring longer-term care that should really have been done by a regular doctor at the hospital. You wouldn't believe how happy they were to hear someone that speaks Arabic and could finally explain their pain and help them through it.
I also worked in a clinic called ELNA, which was set up in a refugee shelter for pregnant women and children. Here, I got to see newborn babies, examine them and follow up on how mothers were doing after giving birth. We also had a chance to look at children aged between a few months and five years old. I felt very useful in this clinic, as all the patients were from Syria and needed translation to explain themselves.
I was also asked to give a group of Syrian women a lecture about the reproductive system and contraception. This was in partnership with an organisation that tries to educate refugees, as well as help by giving them a food basket to support women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. I found these sessions really nice: the women were very interactive and funny, and we all had a great time chatting.
Among my other duties, I had to send referral information to patients and translate them from English to Arabic via voice message on WhatsApp – which most patients were very grateful for. In the message, I would include the date and time of the appointment, the specialisation and the hospital, and always asked people to take a translator with them. It felt good to be able to use my native language to help others.
I had a great time on my placement with MVI and I’m grateful to the GSP Opportunities Fund for making it possible. I’d love to do the same again next summer, but I’ll only be able to if I can secure some funding, because it’s really hard to save for it during my studies.