William Jewell College offers a Journey Grant to every student in the hopes that they will use the money to further their education and help them become more well-rounded students. Over the summer, a group of six William Jewell senior nursing majors, Savanna Myers, Alex Conklin, Ellie Esry, Shannon Mahzoon, Madeline Cox and Madison Cimpl, took a trip to Zambia, Africa to volunteer at Macha Mission Hospital for one week.
This trip was made possible by Jeff Buscher and his connection to the Village Partners Project. Buscher had taken a trip to Kenya two years before this project, and the group of nursing students contacted him with an interest in replicating that trip.
Unfortunately, due to civil unrest in Kenya, the team had to change their travel plans just a few weeks before their scheduled departure. Buscher used some outside connections to get the students to Macha. A group called the Church Health Association of Zambia put them in contact with the hospital. In addition to the help from Buscher, the six students used their Journey Grants to cover a majority of the expenses for the trip.
Macha Mission Hospital is located in a small, rural area of Zambia. While they were there, the nursing students helped with whatever was the hospital staff needed.
“We did rounds with the doctors and helped with wound dressing changes, medication administration and patient care,” said Myers.
They cut cotton and roll it into balls to be sterilized, something that is not required in United States hospitals.
The nursing students even delivered a baby while working at Macha.
“[That] was by far the most nerve-wracking and amazing experience of my life,” said Conklin.
The best part of the trip for a majority of the students was simply being able to interact with the people in the hospital and be a part of their lives.
“My favorite part of the entire trip was making the patients smile,” said Conklin.
Although furthering their experience in nursing was an important part of the trip, these women also got to have a lot of special experiences outside of nursing. They interacted with the culture on a daily basis, learning about how Zambians eat, speak, interact and shop. They also got to see Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world and went on a safari to see animals that we usually only see in zoos.
According to the nursing students, the most amazing thing they saw was how grateful the people of Zambia were for everything.
“I will never forget the looks on patients’ faces and their kind smiles—each and every one of them was so grateful for any kind of care, no matter the act,” said Esry.
From this trip, these students took away a new perspective on life. They learned how to interact with patients whose culture differed greatly from theirs and realized the power of a gentle touch and a smile. These women truly believe that this trip will stay with them forever and greatly influence their decision making in their nursing careers.
“I think this trip will make me a nurse that thinks about the little things,” said Myers.
A previous version of this article was published with the incorrect number of nursing students listed and one student’s name missing. We apologize for any confusion this caused.