Trainee nurses volunteer at Calcutta medical clinic
Two Otago Polytechnic nursing students are heading to Calcutta, India after Christmas to volunteer at a medical clinic
run by the former Chief Medical Officer of Mother Teresa’s children’s home.
Taking 20 kilograms of medical supplies with them, Bachelor of Nursing students Jessica Hardegger (from Winton) and
Nadia Purcell (from Timaru) will spend five weeks volunteering at the Institute for Indian Mother and Child (IIMC), run
by Dr Sujit Brahmochary.
The young women were inspired to volunteer after Dr Brahmochary visited Dunedin earlier this year and gave a seminar
about his life’s work, including his time working alongside Mother Teresa.
“Hearing about the hardships and discrimination faced by women and children in India was just unbelievable,” explains
Nadia. “We don’t have that same kind of gender inequality in New Zealand, and it was shocking to learn about it in
India. That’s what motivated me to get involved.”
The nursing students applied for a place on the volunteer programme at IIMC, and are among 25 international volunteers
chosen to take part in January 2013.
“It’s going to be a real challenge and an eye opener to be working with people in such poverty who are in desperate need
for health care – but I’m keen to get over there and help out,” says Jessica.
“We are so grateful for all the help we have received. Air New Zealand has generously given us extra luggage allowance
for free so we can transport the medical supplies, which include gloves, antiseptics, antibiotics and bandages,” she
While the women are funding the trip themselves, they have received assistance from numerous organisations and
businesses to purchase the medical items.
“Some of the supplies were kindly donated by Medical Aid Abroad, and Otago Polytechnic gave us a grant to purchase more.
We’ve fundraised by selling cheese rolls and lamingtons and raffles, and Fonterra and The Head have generously supported
us in this fundraising, as did Tabolt Park and Ginger and Garlic in Timaru. Otago Access Radio also helped us raise
awareness of our cause,” says Jessica. ”We are so thankful to all these contributors, and to our families and friends
who have supported us.”
Jessica and Nadia both depart New Zealand on 27 December, 2012, and return on 8 February, 2013. Jessica will be flying
out of Invercargill and Nadia will fly out of Christchurch.