Buddhist takes up nursing to help poor

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). 

Brittany keen to fight human trafficking

A St Mary’s College student with a dream to join the fight against human trafficking is among the Year 12 hopefuls who have applied for study assistance in University of Southern Queensland’s inaugural Early Round Scholarships.

Brittany Foley, daughter of former Maryborough MP and Grace Community Church Pastor Chris Foley and his wife Glenys, has applied for two scholarships – a Vice-Chancellor’s Principal’s Recommendation Scholarships of $12,000 and Future Community Leader Scholarships of $6000.

If successful, the scholarships will help steer the St Mary’s school captain towards achieving her goal to mix two careers – pastor and nurse – and work on mercy ships or mission fields in Asia.

“There are also heaps of anti-slavery groups doing really good work such as the A21 campaign, Hope for Justice and No More Traffik,” Brittany said.

The keen volunteer’s talk on human trafficking won her first place in public speaking at the recent Maryborough Eisteddfod and a spot in the state finals on the Sunshine Coast during the September school holidays.

“My speech is basically to do with the concept that every 26 seconds a child is sold into sexual slavery. That’s about 12 times in five minutes or 3456 times in a day. I compare that to how we live here.

“Human trafficking happens in Australia too but it’s a lot worse in third-world countries,” Brittany said.

“The trafficking doesn’t involve just abductions. Many third-world parents have to sell their kids so they can buy basic living needs. They think they’re selling them into work at farms and factories but they actually get sold into sexual slavery. There’s a whole big system – it’s horrible.”

Brittany is a regular member of her local church where she runs a children’s program and volunteers for community groups such as Lions and Rotary. The ballet dancer also achieved a merit in her recent Royal Academy of Dance exams.

USQ Vice-Chancellor and President Jan Thomas said almost 50 Early Round Scholarships would be awarded to Year 12 students this year for the first time ever.

“There are two new different types of new scholarships for senior students that have different benefits,” Professor Thomas said.

“Forty Vice-Chancellor’s Principal’s Recommendation Scholarships of $12,000 each are being awarded to students with high levels of academic achievement and extra-curricular activities,” she said.

“Another nine Future Community Leader Scholarships of $6000 each will go to students with high levels of involvement within their school or local communities and previous connections with USQ.”

Applications for USQ scholarships are now open and prospective and continuing students can find out more at www.usq.edu.au/earlyround and www.usq.edu.au/scholarships.


PHOTO: St Mary’s College Year 12 student Brittany Foley dreams of joining the fight against human trafficking in Asia.

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