During my time in Fiji, I knew I wanted to do some sort of volunteer work. I went to the international office and asked Poonam, the most wonderful and helpful adviser an international student can have, for some advice. She told me there was a local orphanage called Saint Christopher’s which I could volunteer at. I created a proposal and set up weekly visits for the semester.
I would never have made it to Saint Christopher’s the first time without the help from this lady I met at the bus station. I can’t remember her name, but I will always remember her as she truly is an inspirational being. Lost and confused, I must have looked terribly out of place. This lady came up to me, asked me where I was going, and brought me to the orphanage. We sat together on the bus talking about USP and as we continued to ride on toward Nakasi, she began to share her life story with me.
A few years back, she lost her 18 month old daughter to cancer.
From her loss, she learned and grew– she was heartbroken, but from this she became an advocate.Currently,she is in the process of starting a program in Fiji for children and their families who are dealing with the effects of cancer. In Fiji, there is a serious lack of mental health care especially for children with cancer. She wants to change this because of how painful her experience was watching her daughter lay in bed all day, sick and dying. As she watched her child suffer, she understood first hand the detrimental effects of the lack in coping methods. It wasn’t only her family who was suffering, other families with sick children were going through similar experiences and there were no means of support. There were no positive outlets for the children or families; the children were sick and they were dying and that was it. This lady is working towards a program that will change this. She wants to help make this situation less miserable for families by forming support groups and setting up activities for children so they can continue being children instead of being prisoners of their hospital beds.
I wish I could contact her to see how her program is progressing. I wish her the best of luck and hope others can be inspired by her!