Friday, 18 December 2015

Griffith Nursing Arrives in Breathtaking Pak Keng, Laos

PROJECT: Nursing – Griffith University
WRITTEN BY: Laura Maskell

The countdown was over and this year’s first group of Griffith University nursing students were on their way to Laos! We were travelling over 12 hours to conduct primary health care and education to multiple villages along the Seaung River.

Once our group of 13 students and three teachers arrived at the Luang Prabang airport after multiple hours of travel, we were met by our friendly tour guides/translators who drove the group to our first destination My Lao Home via tuk tuk's. Of course being typical tourists we took multiple selfies in the tuk tuk to show family this novel mode of transportation (or, at least it was at them time).

Our group spent the weekend in the main city Luang Prabang, where we were lucky enough to sightsee, relax and embrace the atmosphere and culture of Laos. On Sunday morning our team was whisked away for an hour and a half trip up the mountain to our home stay village Pak Keng. The view was breathtaking: We were surrounded by millions of vibrant tall trees and a gushing river. When we finally reached Pak Keng we were greeted by the village children who were ecstatic to see us and presented with beautiful hand made bouquets of flowers.

After meeting and settling into our home–stays, we encountered our first dilemma. The squat toilets! After expressing concerns and trying to figure out the best way to undertake the deed of toileting, business began. We were taken to the local clinic to sort through our medications, medical supplies, donations and education, in order to deliver primary care over the coming weeks to those who had no, or little, access to healthcare.

On the first two clinic days, the group delivered health promotion education on hand hygiene, teeth brushing and correct lifting technique to each village and an additional sex–ed to the Pak Keng high school. Furthermore, the clinics allowed us to see the common issues faced by countries with lower socio-economic status than Australia. The clinics were an eye opening experience of how so little can help an individual so much, allowing us to feel both compassion and appreciation.

Towards the end of the week, we endured a short trip back in the rain to Luang Prabang where we were reunited with normal toilets and hot water. Over the weekend the group decided to go elephant riding, get massages and explore the traditional Laos food before we began week two.

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