Seven Norwegian undergraduates used their Bachelor of Nursing internship to reach out to disadvantaged communities on the other side of the world by volunteering with VFV.
The Høgskolen Betaniens students have spent a month volunteering at underfunded rural health clinics around Leyte.
The group also used a Facebook campaign to fundraise 350,000 pesos. A portion of the funds were spent on hospital supplies for the clinics they interned at including: bandages, masks, sterilising pads and alcohol, blood sugar testing kits, stethoscopes, vitamins and IV fluids.
“The ladies have been a huge help doing the vital signs — their donation especially will make a big difference to us,” said Midwife Flora-Dima Budoy from Dagami Rural Health Unit where four of the students volunteered.
The remainder of the funds raised were spent on relief goods for families living in the Tagpuro transitional camp. The 86 families were relocated from San Jose — an area totally devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.
Each family received a hygiene kit containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soaps and laundry powder — plus a protein-rich food package of canned fish and meats and mung beans.
The friends said providing relief to the traumatised community was the highlight of their volunteer experience.
“It was an amazing experience having the opportunity to help people who have nothing,” said Anne Bakke.
“I felt happiness but it was also very emotional,” said Alette Dale.
“These people were so happy to receive almost nothing — just some shampoo and canned goods!
“I saw one girl jumping on the spot she was so excited.”
“It was overwhelming seeing how grateful they are for things we take for granted,” said Caroline Jacobson.
Karianne Jensen said connecting directly to the community of 390 Yolanda survivors was exactly what they had in mind when they decided to take their internship outside of Norway.
“The one thing we set out to do was make a difference and we really felt that we did that in Tagpuro,” she said.
“I felt a lot of joy and very touched by their response — I was also very proud of us for pulling it off!”
Martha Benedikte Hitland Furre, who volunteered at Tacloban City Hospital and Dagami Rural Health Unit said the group has learned some unique skills.
“It’s been a great experience for us professionally,” she said.
“In a foreign country it is important to be able to use non-verbal communication which will be of great use to us when dealing with patients of different cultural backgrounds back home.”
It seems the friends’ VFV experience has strengthened more than just their nursing skills.
“It has been really fun and it has brought us closer together,” said Dede Akuffo Hoven.
“It is different to going on vacation — here we are together making a difference and in the profession we want to work in for the rest of our lives!”