Albany volunteer escapes Irma’s force
A lock down, emergency food supplies and preparing for ‘‘the worst’’ weren’t on the agenda for international volunteer, Joanna Sun, when she moved to the Caribbean.
The Albany resident, 22, currently based in the Dominican Republic, last week found herself in full preparation for Hurricane Irma.
While the children’s home she works at in San Pedro de Macoris was unaffected, preparation for the category five storm was not taken lightly.
‘‘We were really worried and especially, we were trying really hard to calm the kids down, to assure them nothing would happen and it would be OK, but at the same time you need to be prepared for the worst.’’
However, the storm left the southern side of the island and concrete buildings at the home undamaged, Sun said.
Since February, the health science graduate has been volunteering for children’s charity NPH, which provides homes for orphaned and disadvantaged children in nine Latin American countries.
She works as a clinical assistant in the medical centre and doing pool therapy with special needs children.
The decision to volunteer came about after reading about NPH New Zealand founder Loren O’Sullivan in the North Shore Times. Sun contacted O’Sullivan and quickly came aboard as a volunteer.
Around three months later, she found herself staying with a host family and taking Spanish classes in the Dominican Republic’s capital, San Domingo.
Alongside her regular work at the home, she is also planning a nutrition programme to introduce the children to different cuisines, as the common diet is mostly based around carbohydrates, such as yuca.
Her work has broadened her perspective and career interests, she said.
‘‘I work with a whole huge range of kids with different personalities, different needs, different backgrounds, different stories. So as much as I am here to help them, I feel like I learn so much from them as well.’’
Founded in Mexico in 1954, NPH provides support and homes for more than 3000 children, including medical and educational services. See nphnewzealand.org for more.
Albany resident Joanna Sun is on a 13-month volunteership.