It is not easy to set aside time during your studies or work to travel as a fieldworker. Anne Stray Hamre and Celine Thomas Nicolaisen found a solution to this problem, by getting their fieldwork in Lesvos approved as part of the practical training as part of a module in their nursing programme. Excellent planning and approval from their place of study, they travelled to Lesvov in the autumn of 2018. Their stay resulted in a paper, which they called “How to create moments of normality for children in a refugee camp?”. Simultaneously, the students were given valuable and informative experiences, which they will cherish for the rest of their lives. Read more about their experiences and how they combined their fieldwork with their studies, down below.
By: Vibeke Hoem, Information Officer, A Drop in the Ocean Translated by: Hanne Buller, HR- and information assistant
When and where did you go?
– We travelled to Lesvos at the end of August last year (2018). We have been following A Drop in the Ocean’s work since 2015, and decided early on in our studies that we wanted to travel to Greece to help.
How did you get the opportunity to travel as voluntary fieldworkers whilst being students?
– We are both part time students at the nursing programme, so we had to arrange our travel to be at a time when we did not have assemblies we had to attend. Additionally, we both work part time in addition to our studies, and could therefore save up some money to go to Lesvos. At the time of travelling, we had a module called “work for health promotion”, where we had lectures on how to work to promote health in Norway, as well as global health, and migration health. This module required 8 days of practical training, which we conducted at Lesvos.
After making the travel arrangements, we applied to get the fieldwork approved as practical training for this module. Luckily, we did get approval, and we were really pleased that we managed to integrate the fieldwork with our studies. We arrived at Lesvos with a strong desire to help, and were excited to gain additional educational knowledge, as well as learning more about people. Our stay in Lesvos contributed to many reflections regarding promotional health work, which resulted in the paper “How to create moments of normality for children in refugee camps?”.
Can you tell a bit about your role as fieldworkers, and what experiences you gained from doing that work?
– It was both challenging and informative to try to take on a professional role when you meet people in a state of crisis. There were children and adults missing access to basic needs. Sometimes, it was almost impossible to not be too affected by the horrible conditions people were living in, and we were constantly confronted with the harsh reality that is refugees’ everyday lives. To be able to do the work that is expected of you, it is therefore crucial to not be too distracted from your surroundings, and focus on your tasks and goals.
– We noticed an immense need of health care for the children at Lesvos. Many of them were sick, coughing, and had fevers. A lot of them had wounds, in many of which where infected. It was often smaller wounds and injuries that easily could have been avoided, or the infections could have been prevented, had they only had access to elementary wound care.
– Additionally ,we are not going to hide the fact that it was hard for us, as two people with young children, to watch young children not getting the help they needed, and we desperately wanted to give them. We were able to help some of them, but we were left with the feeling that we could have done more. Amid this, it was nice to feel that we could contribute in some way, to create a moment of normality for the children in the refugee camp. Those moments themselves made the trip worth it. Both of us are keen to get back down there, once we are finished with our nursing degree, to contribute even more.
Do you have any tips for people who want to do the same as you did?
– Our tips to other people who want to travel to Greece and be a fieldworker is to just do it. Just go. It has provided us with a greater perspective on everyday-life, and we are left with experiences that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. Our school were positive to our involvement, and are encouraging other educational institutions to facilitate other students who wish to do the same as us.