Helping people in need and loving her life
A former student of St Joseph’s School in Rangiora has inspired the next generation of volunteers with her compelling journey.
Nicole Smit said she had no idea which direction she was heading in when she left school so she took up a volunteer teaching position in Samoa with a friend.
After her first stint over there she was ‘‘still fidgety’’ so she went back, planning on staying a few months, but this was interrupted when her father had a heart attack so she returned to New Zealand.
Her father ended up having a triple bypass, an event that cemented Nicole’s future path.
‘‘I’d be watching the nurses work and my love for nursing just grew from there.
‘‘I’m now four years down the track and couldn’t imagine doing anything else, I really love it.’’
Not content with nursing in a regular first-world hospital, Nicole wanted to reach out and help people in desperate situations around the world so she signed up with an international volunteer organisation and set off for Uganda.
‘‘I'm now four years down the track and couldn't imagine doing anything else, I really love it.’’
While there she met Patrick, the founder of charitable organisation Raising Up Hope for Uganda (RUHU), and began visiting the slums twice a week, providing wound care and meals of rice.
He had been involved in the building of three orphanages and this year will be establishing a four-acre area, the Village of Hope, which will see a community centre, accommodation and a medical centre, which Nicole will be involved in.
‘‘We want to have a labour and delivery room, with a bed, desk, chairs, basic medical and cleaning supplies, and medication.’’
As she is funding her trip herself, she is now trying to raise $10,000 by September.
Having raised $7,000 in 11 weeks for her last trip, she is quite confident she will reach her target and will be working flat out to coordinate quiz nights, sell photos and raise the profile of her work.
She inspired the children at St Joseph’s with her photos and stories of poverty in the Ugandan slums, so much so that they raised $1,173 towards her goal with an impromptu mufti day.
School principal Ben Gorman said there had been such a buy-in from the students because Nicole had proven that it was possible to do anything in life.
Visit her Facebook page, Making a Change - Uganda 2018, to find out how you can help Nicole.
Nicole Smit speaks to her former school, St Joseph’s School in Rangiora, about her time in Uganda where she is setting up a medical centre. Pictured is her former teacher, Mrs Marriott.