A NURSE from Bass Coast, alongside nine of her colleagues, has spent the past three years travelling to and from Kenya to teach nurses in specialist fields.
The group of nurses from not-for-profit Royal District Nursing Service have been doing it mostly out of their own pockets.
Three years ago, the nurses used up most of their annual and long service leave so they could pay for their trips, including specialist nurse consultant Trish Griffin from Glen Forbes.
The nurses also fundraised extensively for plane flights, allowing them to go to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, and run an educational program.
Trish decided to travel to Kenya because she saw an opportunity to work in a developing country to make a lasting difference, sharing her skills with other nurses.
Each nurse took two suitcases full of medical products, and then packed a small amount of clothes.
“We ran internationally recognised educational programs. They needed specialists in palliative care, diabetes, etc.
“The program was ongoing, organised one for advancement of nurses’ skills,” Trish said.
Trish specialises in wound and stomal care, the latter focussing on before and after surgery.
“We taught them and now they can be there when they’re needed in hospitals.”
Trish lives with her husband Martin on a small farm in Glen Forbes. She has given up a lot of her time, including on weekends and at night, to plan her departures overseas, Martin said.
“There have been a lot of issues whilst preparing for the courses and when overseas at the hospitals.
“Issues range from political, emotional, planning for trips, coordinating personnel and fundraising,” he said.
“After all the travel, the hardships, good and bad times overseas teaching, Trish enjoys coming back to the Bass Coast area, home to Glen Forbes,” he said.
In Nairobi, 53 nurses have graduated from the educational program and 16 of those will go on to teach their fellow nurses.
“It was about making it sustainable so other people could teach, so they could train their own staff,” Trish said.
“Now they are able to develop their own programs over there and they can build up their organisation and infrastructure.”
It was Trish’s first overseas project and she says the nurses in Kenya showed immense gratitude.
“There were hard times, but we focussed on the result and the impact we would have.”
For Trish’s next trip, she will be going to Saudi Arabia, working at a cancer research hospital.
“As a nurse you’re always doing something and in Saudi Arabia, I can still go to Kenya. It’s four hours away rather than 24 from here.”
Martin said the peace and tranquillity of living on a small farm means Trish has time to rest and recover before her next adventure.