Volunteer: Varsha Sharma

Volunteer
  • During:

    2011

  • Email:

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  • Phone:

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Bicol Clinic Foundation, Inc.
Philippines, 2011

My recent trip to the Philippines on a volunteer quest will be one that I value forever. I was lucky enough to have been chosen to take part in working with some American doctors and nurses at the Bicol Clinic Foundation, which is an hour flight from Manila. Here the doctors and nurses provided free services from general medical to minor surgical, to the locals who are unable to afford basic medical care. I was so shocked and truly saddened to realise that the people who lived here did not have access to a doctor or any medicine, for such common illnesses, that we in the first world take for granted. I was able to see first hand the devastating effects on a community without a proper running health care system. Some of the illnesses, conditions and surgeries I saw, I am sure I will never see in my career as a nurse in Sydney, Australia. It was such a fast paced and highly emotional learning environment, which I am so grateful to have been involved with, especially as a student nurse.

One of the main cases that will remain close to me, was that of a little girl named Kay. She was a local girl who lived with her family close by the clinic. She would come play and sing every afternoon with her sisters and friends, which really brightened up our day, especially after those days, which were so difficult and emotionally challenging. Late one afternoon, she came to the clinic in a great deal of pain as she had fallen over and couldn't move her elbow. Her family was very worried because they had no money to take her for an x-ray, which was vital at this point. I knew there was something I had to do, because I wanted Kay to be able to sing and dance her favorite dance called "Waka waka" again! So, Rebecca (a nurse from the US) and I decided we would take Kay and her family into town the next day for a proper x-ray and check-up. I knew that if we didn't do this then there would be a big chance that Kay's arm would heal un-evenly and she would not receive the medical care that she needed. The next we set off to town and after being sent back and forth between 4 different hospitals and clinics, we finally got an x-ray, which showed a fracture just above her elbow. We then paid for her arm to be casted and bought her some medicine. She was so happy and we were pleased to have made such a big difference in this little girl's life.

Overall, I would recommend for any medical or nursing student to take the time to fundraise and volunteer at the Bicol Foundation Clinic, if given the chance. I personally will never forget by experience in the Philippines and reflect back to my time there everyday! The people you will meet in this beautifully tropical setting, will change your life forever. I know my life, was so deeply touched by everyone I met and I now appreciate the simple things in life so much more.

Varsha Sharma
University of Western Sydney
Foundation of Nursing

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