The $50 fuel voucher a Buddhist student won in a National Volunteers Week quiz recently won’t be enough to get him back to India but the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) nursing degree he is doing probably will.
“I started at USQ Fraser Coast mid-year so I’m in my first semester of my first year and it’s just great, I love it here,” the Maryborough Buddhist and yachtsman said.
“It’s a dream come true; it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s falling into place for me now.”
About three years ago the former Fraser Coast disability worker embarked on a spiritual journey through the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) to the Buddhist Kopan Monastery in Nepal.
“While there I found out about teaching and community health centre about 1000km from Delhi in northern India near the sacred Bodhi tree where Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment more than 2500 years ago,” Mr Wright said.
“FPMT society runs the community centre with funds donated by people like me.
“After I finished at the Kopan Monastery, I went down to India to volunteer at the hospital for sick kids. It’s in Biha, a state with more than 85 million people in an area about the size of south-east Queensland and where one child under the age of one dies every hour.
“I was there two months working with kids affected by HIV/AIDS and Cerebral Palsy, helping to make leg braces and other mobility aids alongside two New York nurses and a pharmacist and two physiotherapists from Spain.
“It was an extraordinary life-changing experience. Ever since, I’ve just wanted to go back to help these people who have little or nothing; families sleep in the streets, on railway platforms and roadsides on nothing more than cardboard or hessian bags.”
Mr Wright said that about six months ago he suddenly realised nursing was his true calling.
“I was almost going to go back to India and Nepal as a monk but one morning about 3am I woke up and thought ‘I’ll be a nurse!’”
Listing all his diploma and certificate qualifications as well as previous work experience, he applied for direct entry at USQ Fraser Coast and received his email letter of congratulations soon after.
“I have no doubt this is what I want to do,” he said.
“After I do three years’ nursing studies and graduate from USQ, I’ll work for a while to gain nursing experience, even sailing up and down the east coast to find work if needed.
“Then I’ll go back to India on a volunteer’s visa for six months, then Nepal for three months, and later commute between the two.”
Danielle Pascoe and Heppy Bosustow also won fuel vouchers in the USQ Fraser Coast National Volunteer Week quiz. Candice Drysdale won an iPod.
PHOTO: USQ Fraser Coast students Ross Wright and Candice Drysdale are presented with their National Volunteer Week prizes by USQ’s Jenny Gunn (left) and Elle Green (right).