AMHERST – Kelli Skinner has a whole new view of the world after spending three months last summer in one of the globe’s poorest nations.
Skinner, who is a senior nursing student at the University of New Brunswick’s Moncton Campus, was part of an Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada Students for Development that traveled to Malawi in June.
“I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity. This experience has broadened my global awareness and my perspectives of global health,” Skinner told members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday. “It has provided me with valuable insight into the health of others. I now have a better understanding of how the determinants of health influence our wellbeing and more aware of some of the things I take for granted.”
Skinner and fellow UNB student Katie O’Shea of Miramichi, N.B. were among a group of Canadian post-secondary students selected to take part in the project that’s funded by CIDA.
With community support, including a $1,000 contribution from the Amherst Rotary Club, Skinner and other participants were able to collect enough medical supplies to fill two hockey bags.
Through the program, Skinner spent time volunteering around the capital city Lilongwe. What she saw was a country that’s seriously under-developed, but also one in which the residents are very friendly and take great pride in themselves.
“Malawi is an incredibly beautiful country,” she said. “We were welcomed with open arms. The people are very vibrant, passionate and resourceful.
“Every day was an adventure because we never knew what we would face and who we would meet.”
During the three months in Malawi she worked with the Guidance Counseling Youth Development Centre for Africa, that’s sponsored by UNESCO and is aimed at promoting and protecting African youth.
“One of their goals is to strengthen school health education. That was primary role this summer,” she said.
Skinner said she participated in a number of tasks including working at a public health clinic and with an organization for teachers infected with HIV/AIDS. She also helped organize a soccer tournament for those with HIV/AIDS.
She also visited a nursing school and a hospital in the capital city.