While most of us were recovering from Christmas overeating and enjoying the summer break, an Otago Polytechnic nursing student travelled to Nepal to investigate leprosy.
Anna Watkins is driven by her desire to help people, and there was no hesitation when the twenty-year old applied for a scholarship with Leprosy Mission NZ.
Anna and eight other youth advocates from around New Zealand stayed in Nepal for two weeks, observing the work being done there to care for people with leprosy. Their mission now - to raise $30,000 for an X-ray machine at Leprosy Mission Nepal’s hospital, Anandaban Hospital.
Nepal wasn’t Anna’s first mission. Two years ago, she helped at the Watoto Baby-home in Uganda.
“Mission work is very important to me. I want to make sure healthcare is available to people that don’t have easy access to it. I’m interested in continuing this work when I finish my degree, but I know I’ll need to consolidate my skills in New Zealand first”.
Originally from the Waikato, Anna chose to study in the south.
“It’s a long way to come and I miss home, but Otago Polytechnic has such a good reputation.”
She quickly made friends, and is now facing her third year of her Bachelor of Nursing. She says the work placements are a great way to gain slow integration into the workforce.
“Our placement supervisors are always so surprised at how much we know. I think the programme is well set up with a good balance between theory and practical.”
Anna also enjoys the technological approach to learning.
“We use a cloud-based learning platform, which means we can do independent study and practise. It also means we can submit work while we’re on placement and get feedback as we go” she says. “There’s a lot of self-directed learning, and plenty of support along the way. It’s perfect for what I want to do – take my nursing skills to places in the world that need them.”