Nursing students deliver glasses gift to Thailand

26 JULY 2016

Reading glasses and sunglasses donated to Charles Sturt University (CSU) have found new homes in remote villages in northern Thailand.They were hand delivered by nine Bachelor of Nursing students and their CSU lecturer Ms Cathy Maginnis while they were on an international work placement for their course focused on primary healthcare, health education and health assessments.The final year students from CSU in Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Dubbo, and Wagga Wagga arrived in northern Thai city of Chiang Mai for a quick acclimatisation to the new culture including the hustle and bustle of the night markets and endless traffic stream of motor bikes, push bikes and tuk tuks.They went on a walking tour and visited local temples to learn about the Thai culture and customs.The CSU group then travelled for four hours by mini-vans from Chiang Mai into the mountainous region of Kallayaniwattana (Watchan) to the students' accommodation in the grounds of Watchan Hospital.Each day, the group travelled by 4WD with hospital staff to remote villages to set up mobile health clinics in local schools.Ms Maginnis, from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health at CSU in Dubbo, said, "Being the rainy season we experienced torrential downpours daily and roads being damaged by the volume and force of the water. The 4WD vehicles were an essential part of accessing remote villages."This alone was an adventure and we were able to take in the most breath taking scenery along the routes."Once in the villages, we assisted hospital staff in assessing and providing health care and supplying pharmacy."The students also delivered health promotions to school students, including education about hand hygiene, teeth cleaning and the Healthy Eating Pyramid."We distributed and did basic visual acuity testing for more than 300 reading glasses and sunglasses donated by our local communities in Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Bathurst and Albury-Wodonga," Ms Maginnis said."These had an immediate and long lasting benefit for the villages. It was very emotional to watch the expressions of the villagers change as their vision improved."The nursing students also brought donated supplies of toothbrushes and toothpaste, loom band kits, stickers, slinky and toy cars as well as pens and book marks for the children.Ms Maginnis said, "These villages have limited access to health care and education and live simple lives while working extremely hard, for long hours, labouring in the fields, planting and harvesting a variety of crops such as rice, corn, strawberries, coffee beans and a variety of nuts and caring for their livestock."We also did home health visits and delivered health care while getting firsthand experience of village life and immersing ourselves in the Thai culture."It was both humbling and a privilege to be able to provide health care to the different villages and to be welcomed and immersed in the Thai culture.

Media Note:

The international work placement was supported by CSU Global, an initiative to provide students with international study experiences.  

It ran from Saturday 18 June and Sunday 3 July 2016.

It was part of the Bachelor of Nursing subject NRS311 Life-stage Considerations: Child Adolescent and Family Health.

OPSM supported the CSU students to test, repair and grade the glasses and provide glass cases, information and products for the children.

Photo: CSU nursing students on a home visit with local health officials in a village in northern Thailand.

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