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Barrhead teen to spend two months in Tanzania

Eighteen-year-old Kyrie Bauer has a motto in life: Go big, or go home. It’s that zest for life that prompted the Barrhead woman to leave behind family and friends on Feb.

Eighteen-year-old Kyrie Bauer has a motto in life: Go big, or go home.

It’s that zest for life that prompted the Barrhead woman to leave behind family and friends on Feb. 9, and embark on a two-month adventure to Tanzania where she will spend her days working in the obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics departments of a regional hospital. Bauer will work Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., when she will shadow a mentor on ward rounds. She will also have lectures several times a week by doctors and other health-care professionals about basic clinical skills and medical conditions that are common in Tanzania.

“I’ve always loved babies, and pregnancies fascinate me,” Bauer said, adding she wants to be a doctor who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. “This is a good way to find out if I want to spend the next 12 years in school. It takes eight years to become a doctor, and another four years to specialize.”

Bauer has ample experience with children. She has four younger sisters and a younger brother, so working with pregnant women and babies is something right up her alley, she said.

“This is something I would love to do,” she said.

Bauer is in Tanzania with Gap Medics, a mentorship program that offers international hospital experience and medical volunteer projects for people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old. She has been matched with a mentor who will provide instructions and help Bauer when she is delivering babies.

“I have no previous medical experience, and Gap Medics has been very accommodating,” she said. “They understand, and they don’t expect us to know much about the work, but they start teaching us from Day 1.”

Bauer will work in a 365-bed regional hospital that offers both primary care and referral services for a large area of southern Tanzania. Malaria, road traffic accidents and complications in pregnancy and childbirth are all common causes of admissions, according to Gap Medic’s website.

Roughly one-third of the 60-90 babies born each week at the hospital are delivered by Caesarean section, as home births are common in this part of Africa and mothers only tend to attend hospital if there are complications.

The Gap Medics house, in which Bauer and eight other students from around the world will be staying, is based in Iringa and is a five-minute walk from the hospital. They all will be sampling traditional African dishes, mixed with Indian, Arabic and European flavours.

“We’re going to be immersed in another culture, and that’s exciting,” she said. Bauer will work with the eight other students, and she said she looks forward to learning about their points of view.

In her spare time, Bauer will have an opportunity to visit local tribal villages, watch traditional dances, walk through safaris, and she will have a chance to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

She said she is nervous about travelling alone, being half a world away from home, and not knowing anyone prior to her arrival; however, the experience will give her valuable input into her future career decisions.

“I’m keeping an open mind, and if I get something out of this, then great. If I learn that I don’t want to do this as a career, then I can just chalk it up to an excellent experience.”