Lifting his outstretched hands to the hundreds of people fixated on him, the Most. Rev. Daniel T. Turley, OSA, Bishop of Chulucanas, Peru, smiled, his eyes glistening with tears, and implored Villanova College of Nursing students to continue coming to his country - where he said they have made a drastic difference in the lives of countless Peruvians.
“The people are so thankful because these young nurses from Villanova have come,” he said during the College of Nursing’s 60th anniversary conference on Saturday, April 6. “Please continue to do the outreach - it’s expensive, it’s not easy, but it is worth it.”
With emotional stories about the people in Peru and the impact of Villanova nurses on them, Turley addressed the crowd just before a panel discussion on primary care and health promotion in Chulucanas. College of Nursing students have conducted health promotion and education work in Chulucanas - a remote town in northern Peru - since 1999. The panel was moderated by Margaret “Meg” Robins Garrett ’72 BSN, MEd, JD, a member of the College's Board of Consultors.
The panelists, including students Brooke Bettis ‘12 BSN, RN, and Sarah Iverson ‘08 BSN, RN, said their work in Peru changed their lives - and reminded them time and again what a huge difference one person can make in the world.
“I have never been prouder to be a nurse,” said Bettis, reading from a journal entry she penned while in Peru.
Bettis, who traveled to Peru as a junior and senior, said she and the other nursing students conducted work centering around the importance of exercise, tuberculosis education, and self-esteem, bullying and stress reduction.
“People were in tears talking about bullying in schools,” she said. “They said it was so important to be able to talk about it.”
Clinical Assistant Professor Karen McKenna ‘70 BSN, MSN, RN, and the two students also said the trip made a huge topic like international ealth far more personal - as well as something that seemed attainable.
“It allows you to take a big thing like global health and break it down,” said Iverson, who continued to say that she discovered much of the work in health promotion was focused on establishing relationships with community members - something that she said translates to her current work as a nurse at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“The community taught me so much about health promotion,” Iverson said.