Saturday, 9 January 2016

Final Week for Griffith in Laos – A time to reflect on the trip of a lifetime

PROJECT: Nursing – Griffith University
WRITTEN BY: Laura Maskell

Group A successfully passed another hard-earned weekend. However when Sunday afternoon hit, the group begin to travel back to our new new village, ecstatic to undertake our final week in Ban Na Pho.

When we arrived, we were greeted by our new homestay families and were made to feel as welcomed and comfortable as possible. Strangely we all found it somewhat relaxing to be back in the mountains.

The next day, clinics proceeded as normal. We travelled to multiple villages to share health education and medical assistance. This week colds, reflux and muscle pain were again the biggest issues seen within the villages, however, there were more dental issues than previously.

Earlier in the week the group was presented with a two-month-old baby girl, who was severely underweight and had significant trouble breathing. The group made the immediate decision to send the baby to the Laos Friend hospital for children in Luang Prabang, where she received treatment for malnutrition. A few days later the parents reported back that their baby was gaining weight and was on the road to a full recovery. They also expressed their deepest gratitude for making hospitalisation, living expenses and transportation available.

Upon arriving at one of our village clinics, the group spotted a young boy with cerebral palsy sitting in a dismantled, rotting wheelchair, which was donated four years ago by another Griffith nursing team. The group made the executive decision to buy a new wheelchair, and delivered it later that week. The boy was ecstatic to receive his new chair, and immensely thankful.

Towards the end of the third week, Group A also sent two men with hernias to the Luang Prabang hospital for a removal surgery. The following Monday, before heading to the airport, the group visited the men in the Army hospital. They said we had changed their lives and were very blessed to have had this opportunity.

Within the clinics, Group A alone saw a total of 1260 people, and enabled five individuals to go to the Luang Prabang hospital.

Overall this opportunity has given Group A an outstanding view of primary health care, allowing us to appreciate what we have back home and how we together can make a difference to the Laos people. The clinics have opened our eyes, teaching us that so little can do so much.

The clinics allowed us to experience the Laos culture, however, we all left wishing we could do more as what we could give was limited. The people of Laos were so appreciative and valued our help both in education sessions and clinics. Although the language barrier was difficult, the translators were excellent and our attempts to speak the language were deeply appreciated and sometimes very amusing to the local people.

I believe we have all left this trip with a richer appreciation of what we have, and have filled our hearts with happiness as we look back on the differences we have made.

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