Becky Telling’s dream from the age of 14 has been to help people in Peru – and De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) international experience programme has made it happen.
The Midwifery student headed to South America with #DMUglobal, volunteering at a healthcare centre in the capital, Lima, as well as at a clinic in the slums.
Her increased cultural understanding along with a host of other DMU experiences will help inform her first job as a community midwife, which she starts next month.
Becky said: “I have always wanted to work in Peru but I didn’t know how I’d achieve it. #DMUglobal made it happen.”
She spent two-and-a-half weeks in the country for her alternative learning experience, staying with a Peruvian family.
“We saw a side of Peru we wouldn’t have if we’d been at a hotel,” said Becky, who had already learnt Spanish to aid communication.
“I volunteered at a healthcare centre. One of the midwives’ sisters worked in a midwifery clinic on the edge of the desert in a slum area, so I started helping her in the evenings. I had never seen poverty on that scale before.
“The biggest challenge was how to provide the best care without resources. They told me my best contribution was education and to get as much expertise in the UK and bring it back to Peru.”
It was DMU’s global outlook that attracted New Zealand-born Becky to study in Leicester.
“#DMUglobal drew me in,” said the 22-year-old, who moved with her family to Bedford in the UK aged eight.
Having always wanted to work in healthcare, Becky has enjoyed the 50/50 split of theory and practice on her course, along with lecturers’ varied teaching styles.
“The staff and mentors are very good at helping you progress and giving the right level of support as you need to start making clinical decisions,” she said.
Becky describes her placements as “tough but amazing”, with case-holding – in which final-year students provide continuity of care for up to 10 women with minimal supervision – her favourite.
“It’s the first time I felt like a midwife,” said Becky. “I was with one woman at her first appointment, I did most of the antenatal care, delivered the baby and provided postnatal care and it was amazing to share the journey.”
Other highlights include her “confidence-building” role as a DMU brand ambassador and a second #DMUglobal trip with the Square Mile India project, to provide basic midwifery training to care assistants.
The learning went both ways. “Breastfeeding levels in India are high and the support is amazing – we learnt so much from them,” said Becky.
This experience fed into an art exhibition celebrating breastfeeding, held on campus, organised by Becky and fellow members of the Midwifery Society.
Becky is “excited” to take up her role as a newly qualified community midwife with the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
“I’m so happy to stay in Leicester,” she added. “The multicultural mix makes the city so interesting and prepares us to work anywhere in the world.”
Any students interested in a volunteering experience like Becky’s should check out the latest opportunities from #DMUglobal in Mexico and Cambodia.