to reflect on their volunteer experience, many returned Australian volunteers
talk about the strong relationships they formed with their local colleagues,
community members and other volunteers.
Three Australian volunteer midwives have done just that – formed
an enduring friendship with one of their
midwifery colleagues in Cambodia, Ms Champamunny (Munny) Ven. A significant
outcome of their relationship is the support and mentoring they provided Munny
while she studied a Masters degree in Public Health at La Trobe University in
Melbourne under the Australia Awards.
White, Rachael Findlay, and Jill Moloney volunteered in Cambodia as part of the
Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program through the Midwifery Education Project, where they met and worked
The Australian volunteers supported
training at Cambodia’s University of
Health Sciences’ Technical School for Midwifery Care to ensure midwifery students
graduate with the skills and knowledge required to be safe practitioners.
Eleven volunteer midwifery advisers were placed at the school and four clinical
sites to provide technical coaching and mentoring between 2009 and 2015.
When Australian volunteer Jill
Moloney first met Munny she was already impressed by her dedication to
midwifery. Munny was studying midwifery full-time and working as a night duty
nurse to finance her studies. According to Jill, “Munny was determined to do
well with her studies and go on to meet the challenge of reducing
maternal-infant mortality in her country.”
Adrienne explains that, “Munny
was hugely helpful in negotiating and advising me, and others, about cultural
behaviours and professional roles in Cambodia.”
For Rachael, being paired with
Munny was one of the most positive aspects of the project because of the close
bond she formed. “We’re like sisters now!” says Rachael.
Australian volunteers encouraged Munny to continue her studies by applying for
an Australia Awards scholarship to undertake her Masters degree in Australia.
Munny’s application, supported by a reference from Jill, was successful and she
completed her Masters in December 2016.
Each of the
volunteers mentored Munny in a different way while she studied in Australia. Rachael
describes the support she provided as “much more like family”.
that, “we figured out public transport, markets and the phone companies. We
went to see kangaroos and koalas and ate Western food. I was her shoulder to
cry on and encouraged her to keep going when homesickness was overwhelming. She
had done the same things for me in Cambodia.”
remote Australia, Jill was able to provide advice and feedback on Munny’s study
and assignments via email and Skype. Reviewing Munny’s work helped Jill keep
up-to-date with current Australian public health issues.
provided face-to-face mentoring and supported Munny to get work experience at
the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. “Munny has been an exceptional student
and a joy to mentor,” Adrienne explains.
Munny is now
working as a midwife for a non-government organisation in Phnom Penh.
Reflecting on the
importance of her relationships with Jill, Rachael and Adrienne, Munny says, “these
relationships have shaped and changed my life. They have built my network,
career and confidence to perform well in my midwifery career and my Master of
Public Health. Without knowing them, I would not even know about the Australia
Awards scholarships. It is my privilege to be surrounded and advised by all of
Adrienne, Rachael and Jill’s volunteering assignments were part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, an Australian Government initiative. Munny’s study in Australia was supported by an Australia Awards scholarship.
Source: First published on http://dfat.gov.au/people-to-people/avid/avid-news-events/newsletters/avid-0317/Pages/midwives-mentoring-and-enduring-friendship.aspx