My experience of the Orbis Internship 2015
Last Easter, I travelled to Delhi, India, with three of my fellow ACS students on a unique journalism internship, sponsored by the ACS International Schools Foundation and Orbis.
Orbis has a global reach
Founded in 1982, Orbis, a global sight-saving charity, works to improve access to eye care by training local teams in developing countries. The charity has served 92 countries during its time using its fully equipped Flying Eye Hospital and hospital-based training programmes.
Why I chose to apply for the Orbis internship
I decided to apply for the Orbis internship as I’m planning to apply to university to study science and psychology. I saw Orbis as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I really wanted to learn more about frontline medicine and the realities of surgery in a clinical, yet underdeveloped, setting.
There was a rigorous application process, involving a written application and an interview with a panel of six representatives from ACS International Schools, ACS International Schools Foundation and Orbis. The application and interview process was something that was completely new to me, and I had never done a formal interview before. As I was the youngest applicant from Hilllingdon, I wanted to prove myself to be a mature and worthy candidate.
My internship with Orbis
Throughout the internship, we met patients who were about to be treated and also patients who were recovering from surgery. We visited a screening camp sponsored by Orbis which was situated in Alwar, (about 2 hours from the centre of Delhi) where we spoke to family members of patients, and learnt about how cateracts develop and the procedures that are required prior to cataract surgery.
In addition to this, we visited the Orbis office in India, where the team taught us about how Orbis functions and the importance of their work in a country where beliefs, morals and ethics can prevent the treatment of a patient in need of eye surgery. I learnt that young women often suffer unnecessarily for long periods of time, under the assumption that their disabilities are perceived as a burden on their families.
India is actually home to the largest number of blind children in any one country, and 63 million people in India suffer from visual impairment, mostly in rural areas. Interestingly, 80 per cent of all visual impairment can be avoided or cured.
How the experience changed my life
My experience with Orbis has been extremely valuable and has made me seriously consider working with charities in the near future. With an insight into how Orbis works behind the scenes, I am honoured to have worked with a charity that genuinely prioritises the needs of families and affected patients. I feel empowered and motivated to tell others about my journey. The facilities and equipment were basic, but the management of the establishments was extremely organised. It became clear to me that they prioritise the urgent needs of patients, even in difficult conditions.
We documented our daily experiences through blogs, photos and videos, and therefore provided first-hand reports on the important medical and social work undertaken by Orbis. My experience in Delhi really made me appreciate the importance of healthcare and education, and I learnt how valuable it is to advocate and prioritise eye care in developing countries.
The Orbis experience really was a unique learning opportunity, and I feel extremely lucky and grateful to Orbis and ACS Hillingdon to have experienced an entirely different culture and healthcare system. I would encourage any student considering the internship to apply; I am very jealous of this year’s students due to embark on their journey to India this June. I wish them the best of luck and encourage them to make the most of what is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.