While undertaking her BSc in Adult Nursing at Hamilton Campus one of our students Claire Cram also volunteered to work with an organisation called Volunteer Eco Students Abroad, otherwise known as VESA (UK). VESA is an organisation which allows individuals to become involved in humanitarian projects all over the world.
In July 2017 Claire travelled to Laos, officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic which is country bordering Thailand and Vietnam in Southeast Asia. While there Claire worked at an elephant sanctuary learning about conservation and responsible tourism. Her trip also involved organising and participating in enrichment and socialisation activities for the elephants. While staying at the Elephant Conservation Centre her team also carried out construction work to build the male elephant a new watering hole. VESA are also involved in working with the local communities so during this trip she also carried out construction work in the local school which involved painting the classrooms. The volunteers also spent time with the children teaching them English and assisting with their learning.
This year during July 2018 she volunteered with VESA again this time travelling to South Africa to carry out more construction, education and conservation work. VESA has been working on a project in Khula Village a small rural settlement next to the Dukuduku Forest on the fringes of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in Zululand. While there Claire was able to assist with the construction of a home for one of the pooerer families living there, mixing cement, rendering walls and also painting. VESA were very proud to say that this construction was the first wheelchair-friendly home they have built!
Also in Khula Village, she volunteered to help in a daycare centre for children. The centre is usually run by one lady. She cares for many children, some of whom are orphans. Mama Doris as she is known provides the children with food, water and a safe place to stay. While volunteering at the daycare centre we helped prepare lunches for the children, taught them English and maths and spent time playing games with them and getting to know them.
The conservation work this time consisted of working with the Emdoneni Cheetah Project which assists in breeding and release programmes for the big cats at the centre. While at the cheetah centre we helped to prepare the cheetahs meals which just happened to be zebra!
We also volunteered in the St Lucia Crocodile Centre which monitors the crocodile population in the nearby area, as well as the rehabilitation and release of crocodiles. While here we created a pool for the crocs and built a snake enclosure.
Not what you might expect for a Student Nurse’s Busman’s Holiday!
Many thanks to Claire for sharing her story and the pictures.