Reports from ChangSha China
I graduated as a registered Children’s and General Nurse from Trinity College in April 2012. During my training I developed a passion for paediatric palliative care. Upon qualification, I was looking for new challenges and experiences and set off to volunteer for 6 months in the Butterfly Children’s Hospice (BCH) in ChangSha,China.
When I first arrived in ChangSha I was a little overwhelmed and initially it was a huge culture shock. At the beginning I did find myself thinking what have I done, but as soon as I stepped foot in the Butterfly Home I knew I had made the right decision. Life in the Butterfly Home is an emotional rollercoaster, with good days and bad days. The days are filled with laughter, tears, joy, love and heartbreak. Some children only have a few hours of comfort in our arms before they pass away, others need someone to stand with them and fight when they go through endless surgeries and others just need a little bit of hope and someone to believe in them. When the babies come to Butterfly Children’s Hospice abandoned, scared and helpless it is devastating seeing their little eyes with no hope. However, with a lot of care, love, time and encouragement they grow and develop to become beautiful little children each with their own unique personality and it is so rewarding when some babies get adopted to a loving forever family and get a second chance at life.
After my initial 6 months volunteering I returned to Ireland to work and earn money to support me to go back out to China, but realised my heart was left in China. I returned to China and volunteered again for another 18 months, becoming Head Nurse overseeing the nursing care of the children and leading the nursing team. In 2013, BCH opened a second hospice in Nanjing and I travelled between the two cities managing the nursing teams. After this I returned to Ireland to complete a Masters degree in Trinity College but was on call for the nursing team and returned to China every few months to the Home. In 2015 I returned to China to take up a new role of Childcare Manager. I completed training programmes with Chinese nurses and healthcare professionals, who have continued to run the Nanjing Home, now Rainbow Centre. I continued in this role for a year, leading the childcare and nursing team in the ChangSha home, having put numerous policies and procedures in place to ensure high quality care is delivered to the children. I have since returned to Ireland and am currently working in Lauralynn Children’s Hospice whilst still promoting BCH and the work they do. To find out more visit www.butterflyhospice.org.
I am grateful for the great training and knowledge I received from Trinity which gave me the confidence to go on this journey. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about it, to step outside their comfort zone and do something different. It is a decision you will never regret and I am so thankful I had this opportunity after Trinity to experience the unimaginable.