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ECU students on clinical practicum in Thailand

Friday, 20 January 2012

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Together with a group of eight ECU nursing students, School of Nursing and Midwifery lecturer Amanda Fowler had the great privilege of visiting Nakhon Si Thammarat in the South of Thailand as a nursing clinical supervisor. The eight students who were to undertake an international practicum were required to undertake fundraising activities before the visit so that they could give back to the local communities in thanks for being offered this opportunity. On the trip we all experienced Thai culture and observed the different ways health care was delivered within the community setting.

Before we embarked on this amazing venture, the eight ECU students conducted a few fund raising activities and succeeded in raising funds to be donated to six different organisations with the local community. The fund raisers included a curry day and a combined with the three other international prac teams, quiz night in addition to donations from many different individual local businesses. The total funds came to over $5300 which was an amazing success. With the funds raised, the nursing students spent nearly $1000 on souvenirs and gifts to be distributed to 160 orphan children that we were to visit. The gifts included mosquito nets and mosquito repellent along with small bottles of Aquim gel. The rest of the funds were to be donated to the local community.

On the last day of the practicum placement we had the opportunity to visit and personally donate the funds to each of the facilities. The first organisation was the Ban Sri Thammarat Orphanage, here we visited many of the children and played for some time. They loved the toys and souvenirs that the students had brought over from Australia. We also met with the director of the facility and donated 23,621 Baht which equates to $788 AUD. These funds were to be placed in a bank and used for school fees for some of the older children as ECU rightly believes that education opens so many doors for people. The Orphanage was very proud that a handful of children had indeed graduated from university and hoped for many more could have the same opportunity.

The second organisation that we visited was Wat Koklek Primary school here we donated 25,000 baht which is approx $833 AUD. Two of the class room floors consisted of concrete and the money that ECU was able to donate will be used to pay for floor tiles for both classrooms which accommodated 20 young 5 year old students. It seems that a lot of the local communities rely on the support and generosity from the local community to improve the school.

The third organisation was another primary school called Wat Pra-Ard Primary School here the students donated 15,000 baht which equates to about $500 AUD. The money is going to be put towards the construction of a permanent stage for multiple purposes. Close to this vicinity was the Plak Jok Village the fourth facility that we visited. The students donated 12,487 to this organisation which equates to $416 AUD. The money is to be used to obtain lights so that the 2.5km dark path from the school to the village can be lit all the way. This would increase safety not only for the children but for the whole community.

The fifth facility that we visited was a little further down the track. It was Ban Sichon, a home for mentally ill homeless people. Once the residents come here they often don’t leave as they are unable to be cared for in the community. This is an amazing facility that operates with skeleton staff, provides a separate house for the elderly and dormitory style for the rest of the residents. There is daily exercise and the residents are responsible for the up keep of the garden area. The money ECU donated here was 21,000 baht which is $700 AUD. This was to be put towards some funds already raised to build a small four bedroom house on the grounds for when residents get sick. Here a community nurse can come and visit which saves the facility sending the residence to a major hospital away from the safe and familiar environment.

The final organisation that the money raised by the ECU students was donated to was a vocational rehabilitation centre. The students donated 21,000 baht which is $700 AUD. In this centre the funds were to be used to fix the toilets on one of the main computer areas in the facility. This facility was an organisation catering for people with disabilities. Clients came and learnt an occupation or trade such as massage, sewing or hair dressing to name a few. After a year they could go back into the community knowing that they could successfully complete a trade with a sense of pride. Approximately five percent of the clients from this facility progressed to leaving the centre and commencing work in the area using the skills they had acquired.

This international practicum did not only give the student a wider insight into how Thai people provided health care but also gave them the opportunity to experience the amazing hospitality that was overflowing from each place we visited. Being able to give back to the community through their amazing efforts with fund raising was a very rewarding experience for the group.

Edith Cowan University should be very proud in producing nursing graduates who are so dedicated, motivated, professional and inspiring as shown throughout this amazing journey.

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