Registered Nurse Volunteer - Lynette Cheverall

Last February was the second time I attended the Equal Health Camp to India as a nurse. It was such an honour to be able to provide a medical service to a community that struggles to get good health care, so I jumped at the opportunity to do so again this year.

This year I travelled down to Trichy in southern India; the previous year I had travelled north to Katwa in West Bengal. It was great to see the differences in both scenery and culture between these two areas, yet the need for the service we provided was still in demand. As Australians, we often take health care for granted. We complain if we can't get an appointment with the GP on the day we want or moan at the waiting times in emergency departments, yet we are so lucky to be able to have world-class health care when we need it.

Many of the people we saw don't have this luxury and are unable to afford basic health care or medicines. During the two week camp, Equal Health offered a multi-disciplinary health care service free of charge to the community and the medicines we provided were sourced locally, which has the added benefit of supporting the local economy. We saw quite a few people who first went to see the optical team, then the dentist and then the medical team and maybe were referred on to see the physiotherapists.

One of the highlights for me on this trip was the opportunity to provide some education to young girls training as nurses. These girls came from an area that was devastated in the 2006 tsunami, and most had lost family members or close friends. These girls were amazing in their desire to learn; they were extremely grateful to learn anything we were prepared to teach. One day I had a few of them clambering to learn how to take a blood sugar level, then the next day they were all doing our blood sugar levels for us. On another day I taught a young girl how to take a blood pressure - it was positively delightful to see the intense concentration on her face intent on listening for the first sounds of the blood pressure, and then the brilliant Indian head wobble and smile when she heard it. The time they spent with us watching and listening to our constant advice will help them, their families and the local community.

One of my goals in future years, in particular for the Equal Health medical teams, is to provide more opportunities for learning, especially for these young girls and within the communities we see.

Lynette Cheverall - Nurse, Palmyra, WA

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