Al­bany vol­un­teer es­capes Irma’s force

North Harbour News - - ATP[ 4BCPCT - AMY BAKER

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 nph­ for more.


Al­bany res­i­dent Joanna Sun is on a 13-month vol­un­teer­ship.

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