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Trainee nurses volunteer at Calcutta medical clinic

Trainee nurses volunteer at Calcutta medical clinic

Two Otago Polytechnic nursing students are heading to Calcutta, India after Christmas to volunteer at a medical clinic run by the former Chief Medical Officer of Mother Teresa’s children’s home.

Taking 20 kilograms of medical supplies with them, Bachelor of Nursing students Jessica Hardegger (from Winton) and Nadia Purcell (from Timaru) will spend five weeks volunteering at the Institute for Indian Mother and Child (IIMC), run by Dr Sujit Brahmochary.

The young women were inspired to volunteer after Dr Brahmochary visited Dunedin earlier this year and gave a seminar about his life’s work, including his time working alongside Mother Teresa.

“Hearing about the hardships and discrimination faced by women and children in India was just unbelievable,” explains Nadia. “We don’t have that same kind of gender inequality in New Zealand, and it was shocking to learn about it in India. That’s what motivated me to get involved.”

The nursing students applied for a place on the volunteer programme at IIMC, and are among 25 international volunteers chosen to take part in January 2013.

“It’s going to be a real challenge and an eye opener to be working with people in such poverty who are in desperate need for health care – but I’m keen to get over there and help out,” says Jessica.

“We are so grateful for all the help we have received. Air New Zealand has generously given us extra luggage allowance for free so we can transport the medical supplies, which include gloves, antiseptics, antibiotics and bandages,” she says.

While the women are funding the trip themselves, they have received assistance from numerous organisations and businesses to purchase the medical items.

“Some of the supplies were kindly donated by Medical Aid Abroad, and Otago Polytechnic gave us a grant to purchase more. We’ve fundraised by selling cheese rolls and lamingtons and raffles, and Fonterra and The Head have generously supported us in this fundraising, as did Tabolt Park and Ginger and Garlic in Timaru. Otago Access Radio also helped us raise awareness of our cause,” says Jessica. ”We are so thankful to all these contributors, and to our families and friends who have supported us.”

Jessica and Nadia both depart New Zealand on 27 December, 2012, and return on 8 February, 2013. Jessica will be flying out of Invercargill and Nadia will fly out of Christchurch.

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