From Saint-Laurent to Malawi
This spring, six students from the Vanier College nursing department will travel to the Republic of Malawi to do humanitarian work. That trip is part of a student exchange program. The purpose: to provide health care to the population and learn nursing practices in a very different context.
Melodie Hicks, a nusing teacher at Vanier College is in charge of the traveling project with a group of young people completing their training. Together they stay in Malawi for this six weeks internship taking place in a rural clinic and an urban hospital in Malawi.
"The biggest problems are malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS-related illnesses: diseases that continue to plague developing countries. Illnesses the developed countries don’t have to worry about, says the teacher. In these cases, treatment is access to medicine. We have access to health care services, and drugs. If we get an infection, we can get antibiotics. They can’t so they can die of a simple pneumonia," says Ms. Hicks.
Ms. Hicks and her students will each carry a mobile medical kit prepared by the organisation Health Partners International of Canada. With that kit, they will bring $ 5 000 worth of medical supplies such as vitamins, antibiotics and analgesics. The kit contains enough drugs to treat 600 people.
Rough time ahead
The students will be shocked by what they’ll see, says the nurse. "It’s a life changing experience. Two of them have never left Quebec! There is lot of work to do outside of their regular classes to prepare them for what they are going to see. They will have linguistic lessons and sensibility training to ethnocentrism", says Ms. Hicks.
Volunteers are eager to leave the country and face to the challenges ahead. Janie Ploudre, one of the traveling students, believes that "to be a nurse, you must believe in the values of equality, equity and solidarity with other countries."
Jennyfer R. Belval, who is also going to Malawi, intends to use what she will have learned during the trip. "I am going abroad to learn how to provide health care services to foreigners in order to do it for the multicultural population of Montreal. I am looking forward to come back and know how to cure people with little material", she adds.
The students are currently fundraising to finance their travel and medical kits which cost $ 575. To make a tax-deductible donation, you can visit the www.vaniercollegefoundation.com. If you want your donation to go directly to this project, you must specify it in the form. There will also be a bake sale during the Vanier College Open house event on November 3rd.