Otago Polytechnic nursing student Jessica Hardegger sits
among medical supplies she and another student will be
taking to India next week. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Rather than spending their summer holidays relaxing like
most of their peers, two Otago Polytechnic nursing students are
about to put their training to good use by volunteering in
Jessica Hardegger (20) and Nadia Purcell (24) will leave for
Kolkata two days after Christmas and then spend five weeks
volunteering at a medical clinic run by the former chief
medical officer of Mother Teresa's children's home, Dr Sujit
The pair were inspired to volunteer after Dr Brahmochary, who
now heads the Institute for Indian Mother and Child, visited
Dunedin earlier this year and gave a seminar about his life's
work, including his time working alongside Mother Teresa.
They will take 20kg of medical supplies with them, to give to
Ms Hardegger, who has just finished her second year of
nursing training, said she was excited to work with someone
who had worked with Mother Teresa.
''Coming from a religious background, I have read all of
Mother Teresa's books and seen all the videos,'' she said.
She expected ''culture shock'' upon arriving in India, but
hoped she would be up to the challenge.
''It's going to be a real challenge and an eye-opener to be
working with people in such poverty, who are in desperate
need for healthcare but I'm keen to get over there and help
out,'' she said.
She said the institute provided free medical care primarily
for women and children and she had been told that a large
proportion of the patients would be suffering from
If she was not going to India she would have spent her summer
relaxing and helping out on the family farm in Winton.
Ms Purcell said she was motivated to volunteer after hearing
about the ''unbelievable'' hardship and discrimination faced
by women and children in India.
''We don't have that same kind of gender inequality in New
Zealand, and it was shocking to learn about it in India,''
Ms Hardegger said the pair wanted to thank Medical Aid Abroad
and Otago Polytechnic for helping them get together medical
supplies, and all the other businesses which had supported
them with their fundraising efforts.
They had paid for the trip by selling cheese rolls,
lamingtons and raffles, she said.