Westmead Private Hospital Nurse Volunteer in Nepal to Help Following the Earthquake
Jul 16, 2015
Volunteering overseas has always been something that I was passionate about doing, with a trip at the end of 2015 to Nepal with another Ramsay Colleague already planned. When the Nepalese Nurses Association however made an international appeal asking for help following the devastation of an 8.1 earthquake, and aftershock of 7.3 some few weeks later, which resulted in more than 9000 people killed and more than 23,000 injured, I knew I wanted to help in any way possible.
With many thanks to Westmead Private Hospital, North Shore Private Hospital and Ramsay Health Care’s support, I was able to make the journey over to the damaged Kathmandu where I spent my 30th Birthday helping others, by far my best Birthday ever!
Many of the people I assisted live well below the poverty line in substandard housing conditions and forego basic knowledge on health and hygiene. I did not know what to expect when heading over there, but it was a challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed and will never forget.
When trying to determine how to treat up to 100 children and earthquake survivors, I would immediately think back to ‘what would I do back home’- that was impossible to do here. The simplicity of what I found, with no X-ray/CT, pathology or monitoring systems, I quickly realized I had to go back to our nursing training of ‘look, listen and feel’. From here I would attempt to understand the pathophysiology of an injury or illness, and treat the symptoms present. Although language was a barrier, a simple smile or holding of a hand spoke a thousand words, and these children were the happiest of any I have ever met despite their misfortunes.
I soon found that there was a demanding need for education on dental hygiene amongst the school children, special needs children and orphans. From the local markets I purchased up to 100 toothbrushes, and with help from other volunteers we attempted to teach adults and children the importance of basic hygiene.
I was overwhelmed at how the Nepalese people welcomed us into their homes with warm hearts, and was truly inspired by the other volunteers and the kindness they showed to me. I cannot wait to return to the glowing smiles of the children I met later this year.
By Renee Jarvie-Price