Nine Chamberlain College of Nursing students recently traveled to Salvador, Brazil, for an International Nursing Service Project. Trip leader Gigi Melendez, assistant professor of international studies at Chamberlain, shares her stories and reflections from the trip below.
Bom dia! We just came back from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil where we spent two weeks with wonderful Bahians. We met many Brazilian students, professors and administrators and had the opportunity to meet DeVry President and CEO Daniel Hamburger at Faculdade Ruy Barbosa (DeVry Brasil). My students exchanged information about Chamberlain’s program and nursing with other Brazilian nursing students and went to the Anna Nery National Museum of Nursing to celebrate the installation of the new President of the Conselho Federal de Enfermagem (Federal Council of Nursing), Marcia Cristina Krempel. Then we spent three days at the Pediatric ICU and a women’s med-surgical unit at the OSID Irma Dulce Hospital providing nursing care and education.
Two places we visited broke our hearts. The first was an orphanage for 147 special needs children, with 47 of them needing continuous medical assistance. This wonderful place is primarily self-sufficient, but relies on the generosity of others. The other place housed 122 infants, children and teens who experienced domestic and/or sexual abuse. Some of the babies were abandoned by their drug-addicted mothers, and we spent time cuddling and playing with them. At each stop, we brought with us children’s clothing, coloring books and crayons, games, bubbles, stickers and more.
After a long bus ride to the country, we spent our second week at the Fazenda Sāo Francisco and were welcomed by the health ministry and community of Castro Alves and Cabaceiras. The students interacted and exchanged information with community health agents and nurses, while visiting the homes of several families. Wound changes, hypertension and diabetes were the most prominent healthcare issues of the people. Health education was provided to more than 350 people in two student-led presentations and more than 150 children at three schools. I presented updates on wound care to the healthcare teams in Castro Alves and Cabaceiras and showed them other tools we use for wound care.
Although our first week consisted of daily typhoon-like rain conditions, the second week made up for it with its sunny, warm days. The students were greatly impacted by the environmental conditions; however, they felt most affected by the welcoming attitude and friendliness of the healthcare nurses and agents in all the locations we visited.