Angeline Chaipa, nurse volunteer, on the Flying Eye Hospital

Angeline Chaipa on volunteering for Orbis

May 2018

Did you know that 90% of healthcare is delivered by nurses? They’re an amazing and important workforce. Nurse Angeline Chaipa from Moorfields Eye Hospital, began volunteering with Orbis last year To celebrate International Nurses Day we are revisiting a blog she wrote whilst on her very first volunteer assignment with Orbis.

My name is Angeline Chaipa. For the last week I have been working with Orbis as a voluntary nurse in Can Tho, Vietnam. I am having a great time with an amazing group of nurses and doctors and the rest of Orbis team and crew. It is really a mini United Nations team with staff from different countries such as Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Kenya, Hong Kong, Mexico, Philippines, Peru, South Africa, UK, USA and Zimbabwe just to mention a few.

I left London on Friday 5 May for Vietnam. I was a bit anxious about the trip since it was my first time to travel to that part of Asia and I had to connect at Hanoi International Airport to my final destination, Can Tho city. To my surprise when I got to Hanoi, the airport staff were already waiting with names of transit passengers. They helped me with my flight connection and that made me very comfortable and I felt very welcomed to Vietnam.

When I got to Can Tho, the hotel staff were excellent. We had a staff nurse meeting after breakfast, where all Orbis and other voluntary nurses welcomed me and the head nurse Angela Purcell was superb. After the staff meeting, she showed me around the city and I was thrilled by how local people were so friendly and helpful with the directions even with their little or no understanding of English.

A photo of someone selling flowers from their bicycle in Vietnam

Sunday was the first working day at the local Can Tho Eye Hospital. I was allocated to oculoplastics clinic for patient screening, paediatrics and adults. I really enjoyed the clinic, the kids were lovely and the parents were very appreciative. It was such a good experience since we had to communicate through translators who would then translate every word into Vietnamese because of the language barrier.

The following day until my last day, I was working on the Flying Eye Hospital. Angela took me around and orientated me.

Angelina Chaipa nursing on the Flying Eye Hospital

Angeline on board the Flying Eye Hospital

The following day until my last day, I was working on the Flying Eye Hospital. Angela took me around and orientated me. The plane is amazing and it looks like any normal hospital theatre in UK or USA. I was working in the recovery room with an Orbis staff nurse and two local hands on trainee nurses from Can Tho Eye Hospital. We were teaching them how to properly recover patients post general and local anaesthesia. The patients were children and adults post glaucoma and oculoplastics surgery.

The theme of the programme is to enhance and empower local nurses and doctors to improve their theoretical and practical knowledge in ophthalmic conditions. 75% of blindness and low vision in can be prevented if detected early and this is where we Orbis nurses and doctors come in.

I feel so privileged and proud to be part of the Orbis team in helping to prevent and promote public eye health in the world.