Ani Ziebarth volunteers in India and Kenya

A nursing student and a former Miss Summerland spent the last few months travelling and volunteering.

A former Miss Summerland has spent the past few months volunteering in the Punjab region of India as well as a rural area of Kenya.

Ani Ziebarth, who was Miss Summerland in 2007-2008 and graduated from Summerland Secondary School, took the recent semester off from nursing studies to travel and volunteer.

In the city of Pathankot in India she stayed at a school for special needs children operated by the brother of a family friend. Funded by church organizations and government, St. Francis Home has 80 children. Most are day students, but 25 are far from home so they live in a hostel through the week. She taught English to the older children, and tutored some in math.

“More than anything I was the human jungle gym.” She explained that teachers don’t have much time to play with the children, so she was glad to be able to help the youngsters stretch and exercise.

“I got to know them and to love them and the language barrier didn’t even matter in the end.”

Her stay in Northern India included sightseeing trips to Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetan exiles; the Taj Mahal; the city of New Delhi; the Red Fort; and other places of cultural, historical and religious significance. She hopes to return someday to spend a year traveling in India.

After nearly two months in India, she moved on to Kenya where she worked for about a month. There she had arranged her volunteer placement through the Maralink Eco-Volunteers.

“I chose to go into the rural medical system.” She went to work in a small hospital located about an hour away from Nairobi.

“They had me in three departments: pediatrics, general and maternity. It was a learning experience. You learn to make do with very little materials.”

For example, there were few supplies for dressing wounds. A wound might be covered with a piece of gauze, but there wasn’t the large selection of dressings available in Canadian healthcare settings.

Little pain medication was available.

“You come in with third degree burns and you get Tylenol,” she said.

“The people are so stoic.”

“Burns are very common there.” In Canadian hospitals she had seen few burns because they are usually treated at special burn centres.

In Kenya cooking is done over wood fires. “It is very easy for a toddler to pour hot tea on themselves or put a hand in the fire.”

She has a new appreciation the privacy afforded to patients in Canada. In the rural Kenyan hospital where she worked, “there is no such thing as a private ward. Beds are all in one common room.”

Ziebarth researched, arranged and financed the volunteer trip herself. She left Canada on Sept. 26 and returned Dec. 19 after a 40-hour flight. She spent Christmas in Summerland with her family, including parents Mark and Julia Ziebarth,  brothers Jonathan and Thomas, and sister Caroline Rose.

She is returning to her fourth year nursing studies at the University of Northern BC in Prince George. The trip has made her want to travel more, and she would like to work overseas after graduation.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat. There’s so much world to see; I can’t see how anyone would not want to see the world.”

“I have never experienced such kindness. Wherever I went people went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. It’s a small world.”


Just Posted

Boil water notice issued by South Okanagan town

The Town of Osoyoos has issued a boil water notice for two rural water systems

Display to shine a light on overdose deaths in Interior Health region

Display will travel to Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops

Total hogwash: Mr. Banks gives cars a piggy polish

Mr. Banks, who lives on the Critteraid farm in the Okanagan, was offering the service on the weekend

Okanagan Fest of Ale promises to be bigger and better

A record breaking 75 breweries are now confirmed to participate at the annual event in Penticton

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: A mix of sun and cloud, potential showers

Environment Canada predicts showers today will go away to allow for sun later in the week.

The good, bad and the unknown of Apple’s new services

The announcements lacked some key details, such as pricing of the TV service

British Columbians are paying more for booze but also broccoli

Victoria’s inflation was 2.3 per cent, a tick above Vancouver’s of 2.2 per cent

Portrait artist receives prestigious designation from Federation of Canadian Artists

Justin Maas, renowned for his pastel portraits, is now a senior signature member of the federation

Budget 2019 includes training credit for Canadian workers

Minister of Public Service outlined the new program at Penticton’s Sprott Shaw College

UPDATED: Three dead in Surrey crash: police

Single-vehicle crash occurred around 10:30 a.m., police remain on-scene

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Coroner’s inquest announced for Victoria teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

Military officer accused of sexual misconduct, drunkenness in B.C., Alberta

Warrant Officer Jarvis Kevin Malone is charged under the National Defence Act

Most Read