Brock nursing students took their work international this summer with a trip to Swaziland.
Twelve fourth-year nursing students, two faculty members and a teaching assistant travelled to the African Kingdom, embarking on the second Department of Nursing trip to learn about the challenges in delivering health care to Swaziland’s more than one million citizens. The country has more than 200,000 people living with the AIDS virus and more than 70,000 orphaned children.
The Brock students taught classes on health and first aid. They worked at remote clinics alongside local nurses. They attended nursing lectures at South African Nazarene University and toured local hospitals. They also delivered supplies of knitted blankets, shawls and dolls created by Brock’s own Community Knitters.
The students attended lectures and fundraised in Canada before they flew more than 13,5000 kilometres to an orphanage on Bethany Mountan to begin their community nursing course.
“Nursing is a universal profession that functions in all countries regardless of their resources,” said Nursing lecturer Melanie Stansfield. “(The students) learned to improvise, to critically assess and to respect a culture much different than their own.”
The students conducted in-depth community assessments of specific regions in Swaziland. They gathered data and worked with community members to learn about socio-political, religious and cultural practices there.
“I like to think of it as community to community,” lecturer Karyn Taplay said. “It is a humbling experience to see two sisters in their mid 60s break into a song and dance after each receiving a knitted blanket.
“Equally as humbling was to assess a young boy of six who had an enlarged heart and give him a knitted lion to help keep him strong. This was possibly the first and definitely the last toy he received. He died five days after our visit.”
The trip was May 28 to June 21.