How I Went About Hospital Volunteering: An Experience | Teen Ink

How I Went About Hospital Volunteering: An Experience

January 6, 2018
By RiddhiLikhe BRONZE, Abu Dhabi, Other
RiddhiLikhe BRONZE, Abu Dhabi, Other
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

Thursday, 21/12/2017
“Wash your hands well when entering and leaving the ward. And don’t forget to let me know where you’re going. Tell me if you need story books!”
Those were the last-minute instructions I heard from the nursing administrator Dr. Kavitha before Saanvi and I followed the nurse to the paediatrics ward.
I was at a hospital as a volunteer, and so was Saanvi, who is a few years younger than me. We were loaded with coloured paper and story books, ready to entertain the child we were going to be with.
I enjoy volunteering. There’s this sense of satisfaction you get from it that I don’t think is possible even when you top your class. It’s a feeling that overwhelms you like a wave when you’re as still as a stone. It washes over you and engraves its strength on your soul.
That feeling, however, is not something that convinces everyone.
“Why do you two want to do this?” Asked Dr. Kavitha.
Saanvi glanced at me. She had a point- it was my idea, so it was only appropriate for me to answer. I inhaled and looked the nursing administrator across the desk in the eye as she waited for me to speak.
“I do truly enjoy volunteering. It’s really satisfying to see other people smile and-”
“I see.” She didn’t look entirely convinced and neither did she let me finish, but I let it go. She’s a busy person, I thought. I can’t blame her, and she probably knew what I was about to say anyway.
Before leaving the room, we signed terms of confidentiality and were given instructions. The nurse cheerfully led us into the paediatrics ward, and my jaw dropped.
It was a beautiful place. Animal and jungle-themed wallpaper adorned the walls, which further accentuated the brightly coloured doors and tables. It wasn’t the kind of décor I’d prefer in my room, but I could tell that it was appealing to children. Saanvi eyed the walls with interest, which I wasn’t expecting, especially since her father worked in the same hospital and she usually had a fair amount of know-how.
“I last came here two or three years ago.” She said. “This wallpaper is new.”
I nodded in acknowledgement, although I wasn’t too interested in the surroundings. I cared about the patient we were about to visit. The nurse turned to face us, her unmoving smile relaxing me slightly.
“All the children here are really quite young.” The nurse explained. “I can’t possibly leave you with 4-month-olds, so for today you can be in here. The patient is 4 years old- will that be alright?”
“Yes” Saanvi and I answered at the same time and walked into one of the rooms, where we were greeted by a large grin.
“Hi!!” said the girl on the bed, flashing her brilliant teeth and waving her tiny arms. Her smile melted my heart instantly- she was too cute for words. The girl had her right hand wrapped in bandages, but I didn’t ask about what happened. Instead, I beamed at her and pulled out all the story books I’d carried with me.
“Do you want to hear a story?” I asked. The patient nearly leaped in excitement- I made a mental note to keep her away from the edge of the bed. In the meantime, Saanvi pulled out coloured paper and scissors.
“Let’s make origami butterflies!” She said to the patient’s elder sister. Both of them happily began cutting and folding away, while I began reading ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ to HER, a book she had picked out of all the options because she liked the pictures.
She was an active listener- by which I mean she couldn’t sit still. She took great interest in the stories and pictures, and even more in seeing what was on the next page. She giggled as I read out the King’s lines in a proud, deep voice and the thieves’ dialogues with a sly sneer.
Once I finished reading it to her, her eyes fell on the mouse puppet inside Saanvi’s bag, which I fetched and we began to play with. She named it Donkey, which I found rather unique. We ended up speeding through several stories: The Emperor’s New Clothes, Dora’s Christmas, Noddy and The Missing Money, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and many more. In the middle of Noddy and The Missing Money, Saanvi and the patient’s sister showed us two beautiful origami butterflies.
“I need to go now, Riddhi.” Saanvi said.
“Badminton?” I guessed.
“Yes.” She said good bye to everyone, leaving me alone with the two girls. The patient’s sister found my book about the solar system and before I knew it, was immersed in the world of planets and stars. I kept reading to her, while she listened and played with one of the butterflies. My throat got drier by the minute, but I didn’t mind. Before I knew it, it was time for me to go.
“Bye!!” She called out. I smiled and waved as I left, feeling satisfied and happy with my work.
And I felt even happier when I didn’t forget the hand rub.
A/N: Not all dialogue has been extracted word for word and may or may not have been modified for grammatical correctness.

Sunday, 24/12/2017
Saanvi was in Georgia with her family, so I went to the hospital alone.
It was Christmas Eve, so naturally most of the staff was busy with last-minute decorations. I entered Dr. Kavitha’s office- the one who’d questioned me on my first day- expecting to see her greet me with a smile and assign me to a ward for the day. Instead, I was greeted by an empty chair.
“She’s at a meeting.” Said the nurse.
I was stumped. Now how do I know where to go?
The nurse was quick- she called someone and turned to me once the call ended. “I’ll take you to the medical and surgical wards today- come with me.”
I followed her, my mind swirling with conflicting thoughts.
Don’t those wards usually have adults in there?
That’ll be fine; I can just read something to them, I guess.
But kids are easier to deal with, aren’t they? You can do art and craft with them as well. The things you can do with adult patients are limited.
I shook it all off once we reached the one of the rooms. The nurse opened the door and revealed a man sitting on his bed, probably in his thirties. I greeted him, went in and pulled out Chicken’s Soup for The Mother’s Soul: 2, mainly because I had no other books for adults.
“Would you like me to read to you?” I asked.
“I’m actually not a big reader.” He admitted. I was a little taken aback- especially considering my own love for books. I shook it off and began to read one of the stories anyway. It was about a mother who started an organization to help children with cancer after her own son passed away. I found the story heartfelt and inspiring- but he didn’t.
“It’s quite negative at the start…”
Uh oh, I thought. I needed a comeback.
“Yes, but the rest of it so happy and ground breaking, isn’t it?” I tried.
“True, but that doesn’t get rid of the negativity in the beginning.” He replied calmly. “It’s a good story, but it’s also one of the reasons I don’t read books at all- most of the time, they contain some amount of negativity, and I’m more of an optimistic person. I like it when everything is positive and fun.”
Makes sense, I suppose. I put the book away and we began to talk. It was a simple conversation, mostly fact-based at first. The typical questions kept coming up: Where do you study, what do you do, what do you want to be, what do you do in your free time, how big is your family etc. At some point, I unintentionally brought up the patient’s disease.
“How long have you been here?” I’d asked.
The number of weeks he had spent slipped my mind quickly- especially since he took that as an opening to speak about why he was hospitalized in the first place.
“I’m here because I have pancreatitis” He said.
“Oh, I see.” I replied, nodding.
I expected him to move on, but instead he looked at me with amusement. “You don’t know what pancreatitis is, do you?”
“No.” I confessed. “Something to do with the pancreas?”
“That’s right.” He answered, and proceeded to explain his condition in detail, as well as the treatment procedure. Once he was done, an unexpected voice spoke up:
“You seem to be very well-versed with your condition!”
I was slightly startled- I hadn’t realized that the nurse had been there the whole time. She brought up his discharge papers, and his face instantly brightened.
“Oh yes, I’m going to be discharged today!” He said happily- an expected reaction from one so positive. His papers were apparently getting ready at that very moment.
We spoke for some more time- he was true to the nature he claimed. Every word of his was brimming with optimism- he even spoke about his drug-addict, smoking phase in a positive light. I was initially stupefied by his attitude towards it, but I eventually understood that the experience had helped establish his ideals of right and wrong, which was why he valued it.
Another nurse entered the room and announced his discharge, so I left the room a lot earlier than I’d intended to. Before I left, however, the patient clearly remembered us discussing the differences in debating style as seen in news channels.
“Check out RT’s Crosstalk. You’ll find it interesting.”
I nodded and wished him luck for the future- whilst also reminding him to let his family know about his condition. His family who- as he had admitted to me- he had kept in the dark about being hospitalized, so as to not make them worry, since they lived all the way in India.
I had time to visit a second patient, and so I did-. But this time, I didn’t bother with the book- mainly because the book was in English, and the patient- who was a thin, old man with cancer- was far more comfortable with Hindi.
Our conversation was completely different from the one I’d had with the previous patient, and definitely shorter as he was fragile and tired, as came with age and with his condition. I cannot, and will not write too much about this one here- mostly because I was with the same patient the next day.
A/N: Not all dialogue has been extracted word for word and may or may not have been modified for grammatical correctness.

Tuesday, 26/12/2017
The day after Christmas- the day when I realized how much a holiday could mean to someone.
Hospitalized patients feel lonelier than anyone else. They want someone to be there for them- and if they’re fighting for their lives, they want someone to stay by their side and be their light. They want them to be a force that holds them in one place and doesn’t allow them to run amok. And sometimes, even the smallest things said by an unknown person can make them smile, and can change so much.
This is why patients in particular crave for holidays- not for the presents, not for the hospital decorations, not for the food. They crave people. They want people to come visit them, even if it’s just for five minutes. And most of the time, families show up in the patient’s room, being noisy and full of holiday spirit. The patients claim to hate the disruption, but they love it.
But the patient I’d ended my last entry with? Nobody had visited him on Christmas.
“A belated Christmas to you!” I said as I entered. Once again I was without Saanvi, and once again Dr. Kavitha was at a meeting, so a nurse escorted me to the medical and surgical wards. And of course, the nurse who’d seen me the other day led me to the same patient again.
When he saw me, he smiled immediately. “How are you?” He asked- in Hindi of course.
“I’m fine, how are you doing?”
Conversation starters 101, right there. It worked though- we spoke more than we did the last time. Previously we’d just gotten into introductions and a bit about each other’s lives- he’d been a security guard before he was diagnosed with cancer, and that was when he resigned as well. He was to be discharged in a few days, after which he’d be on his way back to Nepal, back with his family. He had a wife and three children. The eldest was a girl who was already married, the middle girl was a year older than me, studying in 12th grade, and the youngest was a boy in 9th grade. The girl in 12th grade wanted to be an accountant. He’d been in Abu Dhabi for a rather long time, and he didn’t have anyone too close to him in the city. His colleagues were the only ones in Abu Dhabi he knew well- that explained why he didn’t get any visitors for Christmas.
I felt awful when I’d heard that- and even more when he suddenly said “I miss my country.”
I prompted him to talk about it, and he continued “I miss my village. There was a waterfall near my house, and green grass everywhere. The water was always so loud, but it was very soothing. The air smelled so much different from this place- maybe because everything there was naturally beautiful. Here, the only beauty you have is tall buildings and man-made grass, trees and parks. Everything here is fake.”
I actually wasn’t surprised at all when he said that- in the end, the splendour and supposed luxury of the city can never replace the ethereal gifts of nature. We spoke for some more time and eventually parted, giving each other our best wishes for the next year. As I left, the smile on his face lifted my spirits a little. I still had time left, so I decided to ask the nurse for another patient. She directed me towards the room of a Filipino man, who greeted me warmly and immediately proceeded to start switching TV channels.
I decided to completely abandon reading to adults- it just didn’t work the way it did with kids. I drew on all my conversational skills and did my best to divert the patient’s attention from the TV and to our conversation, which worked. He was in the hospital for a heart operation- a valve had leaked.
He praised the doctor endlessly with phrases like “He gave me a second chance at life.” and “He’s a blessing to this hospital.” Once he was done with those, he began asking me questions. As he pretty much interviewed me, I mentioned that I do my best to stay updated with politics, which caught his interest. He promptly began explaining how Singapore was such a wealthy country- apparently the fines there are higher than I thought. Singapore was devoid of any natural resources, so it was obvious that the government’s only source of money was the general public. By imposing strict fines on ‘crimes’ in the country, they rake in thousands of dollars from almost every single person. A clever money-making strategy, and also a very good reason for people to run away from the country. After all, who’s going to pay $100,000 for selling chewing gum? Or $150 for forgetting to flush the public toilet?
I asked him to talk about his family, which he did rather happily. His wife and two daughters were in Singapore. He showed me a photo of his children, both of whom were adorable. The eldest was a year younger than me, and she had glasses too. I was curious as to why he’d left his family in Singapore when they could instead be learning in the Philippines, and his answer was simple- the quality of education.
We couldn’t speak for as long as I’d wished we could since I had to leave, but I was pleased that I’d gotten to have a conversation with someone who shared similar interests.
A/N: Not all dialogue has been extracted word for word and may or may not have been modified for grammatical correctness.

Thursday, 28/12/2017
Saanvi had finally returned from her Georgia trip, which she told me she’d thoroughly enjoyed. She was delighted with my Christmas gift- a pair of small, dangly earrings. I had the same pair, and I couldn’t resist buying a second pair for her, especially since I like it when I match the people I’m with. We’d been sent to the ICU, where we awaited further instructions from a nurse who was going to take us to our first patient.
“Do you want to leave your bags here?” The nurse asked.
Saanvi and I glanced at each other in confusion. “We’ll be with adults, so…” I trailed off. Saanvi nodded and we left our bags at the reception. While the nurse led us to the first patient, I relayed everything I’d done in the past two visits to Saanvi, who listened nervously since it was going to be her first time with an adult patient.
We entered the room of a Filipino woman, who greeted us cheerfully. Her sister was there as well, busy texting someone. Once again, I began with the usual, cliché questions, whilst Saanvi stayed silent, observing me as I spoke.
The patient’s sister had come to visit all the way from Qatar, and her children were in the Philippines while she worked in a boutique. It was mostly just a fun chat. She explained her condition in detail- I couldn’t comprehend all of it, but I realized that it had something to do with blood sugar. Towards the end of the conversation, she seemed a bit more interested in her phone, so Saanvi and I came to the silent conclusion that it was time to leave.
“Well, we’ve got things to attend to; it was nice speaking with you.” I said, getting up. “Belated Christmas and Happy New Year!”
“Happy New Year to you as well!” The woman smiled and waved as we left. Saanvi and I stood outside her room, taking in our bleak surroundings.
“We’ve got a little over an hour left.” Saanvi said.
“Yeah, I know. Let’s ask the nurse for another patient.”
The nurse then took us to another room, but not before saying “Her English is not very good, and neither is her Hindi.”
We nodded and entered. The patient was a Sri Lankan maid who worked for an Arab family, and unfortunately she was unable to really explain her condition. She looked weak- wrinkles outlined her eyes, and moving seemed to take a lot of effort. We did our best to converse with her, but she just seemed too tired, not to mention the slight language barrier was giving us trouble. Eventually Saanvi and I decided to let her take a nap.
The second we were out of the patient’s earshot, Saanvi turned to me, her face a mixture of amusement and exasperation. “You need to stop using such big words!”
“Big words? What big words?”
She looked amused. “You always use such big words when you’re talking to people- they’re okay when it’s me, but the patient we were with had trouble with English. You need to slow down a little.”
I was initially confused, but I quickly realized what she’d meant. I made a mental note to be a bit more careful the next time. We still had time, so we ended up with a third patient, this time a woman from Uganda.
At any rate, she was a wonderful person to converse with. She answered all my questions animatedly, adding some questions of her own. Saanvi seemed comfortable around her as well- maybe because she’d finally gotten the hang of speaking to adult patients, or because Ayesha was a great conversationalist, or both.
She wasn’t quite sure how she’d ended up in the hospital. She’d been frozen at work- quite literally. She said that she was suddenly overwhelmed by so much pain that she was unable to move. She had just enough strength to contact her supervisor, who instantly sent her to the hospital. She worked as a waitress, while her husband worked as a driver in Dubai. Her 6-year-old daughter lived in Uganda with her grandmother. She expressed how much she wanted to live with her daughter and husband, but was forced to stay away from them due to monetary issues. She blessed me and Saanvi with a bright, successful future, which I greatly appreciated.
I wasn’t sure how, but at one point the topic turned to feminism, which I thoroughly enjoyed talking about since it’s something I’m passionate about. She completely agreed with everything I had to say, and gave us plenty of advice that neither me nor Saanvi had expected. I will not go into detail about the things we discussed, but know that golden pieces of knowledge and wisdom she shared with us are things that I will take with me on my road trip to the future.
A/N: Not all dialogue has been extracted word for word and may or may not have been modified for grammatical correctness.

Sunday, 31/12/2017
New Year’s Eve- that one day when everyone asks you for the resolutions you’ve made for the next year, expecting to hear something different from ‘work hard and get the fruit’. I however, have nothing to say but ‘I want to work hard and get the fruit’. There are other people who can get very specific with their resolutions- but in the end, it all comes down to perseverance and achievement, doesn’t it?
At any rate, New Year’s Eve got off to a messy start- Saanvi and I had somehow managed to miss each other at the hospital when we first arrived, and found each other later in the paediatrics ward. We had a confusing tussle over how neither of us had seen each other at our common meeting point, and who exactly arrived first. We decided to leave it alone and proceed to make paper butterflies and lanterns with our first patient and his older brother. They were both extremely naughty and hyperactive, which made me especially nervous since we were using scissors and a stapler for the lantern. Saanvi was in charge of the butterflies since I had no idea how to go past the first three steps. The lantern was my territory- which sounds easy, but isn’t. The lanterns we were making were two-toned and had handles. Both of the boys chose to make red butterflies and blue-and-red lanterns, one with a blue handle and another with a red handle. The handles were initially both going to be blue, but the patient’s brother got a little mixed up.
Once they were done, the patient picked up the butterfly and asked innocently “Can this fly?”
“Sure, just be-” I stopped midway as the butterfly, which had been tossed into the air, landed on the ground with a light tap. I thought he’d stop there, but he didn’t- he threw the lantern in the air as well, almost as though expecting it to sprout wings and stay up there. It didn’t, which got me laughing. They were fun kids, but we couldn’t stay with them for long- we had to move on to the next patient.
The next room had a girl and her little sister. At this point I was wondering if everyone in the paediatric ward had a sibling, and they were all close to them in age. I wasn’t sure if Saanvi was thinking along the same lines, since she was quick to pull out the coloured paper and get started on a light blue butterfly. I tried making a lavender butterfly for the patient’s little sister, but of course I had to mess it up and get it fixed by Saanvi.
The patient was very quiet, so we eventually decided that it would be better to read her a story. Her parents told us that she liked Disney princesses, so I read Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, doing my best to impersonate the characters despite my own grudge with the story.
Don’t get me wrong- I think Disney stories are cute, but Snow White is a problem for me, in spite of the fact that I was Snow White in a kindergarten play. In my opinion, Snow White’s story needs to be altered so that she isn’t portrayed as just an innocent, pretty and weak female. Or even better, just get rid of it entirely. We’ve got better princesses now- there’s Merida, Elsa, Rapunzel and re-invented Belle (courtesy of Emma Watson). There’s also the slightly older and yet feminist princesses who’re often ignored in the presence of Ariel and Aurora- those in my opinion, would be Mulan, Pocahontas, Tiana and Jasmine. Those princesses deserve more recognition. Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel can… take a break. They’re not exactly helping the movement.
Back to the hospital- we would’ve stayed in that room longer, but we had no choice but to leave when the nurse entered and informed the parents that their daughter was to be discharged. We then ended up with a silent boy who refused to answer any of our questions- not even the ones relating to his name. Instead, we brought out all our paper and ended up making an orange-yellow lantern, blue and yellow butterflies and a paper aeroplane to match. The kid enjoyed making them- scratch that, he enjoyed me and Saanvi make them. He was spending quality time with my scissors and happily cutting paper to meaningless little pieces. I was a little nervous because of his speed, but felt more so when he abandoned the scissors and went straight to the glue. He spread it all over a yellow piece of paper, and before I knew it, he’d slapped it onto the wall, on which it stayed. He turned to me, his face filled with glee.
Saanvi and I just burst out into peals of laughter. When we finally finished making all our paper art, the boy finally smiled at us, instantly melting my heart.
His father was happy too. He said “He isn’t allowed to leave the room and he gets bored. So you really made his day.”
As we left, I noticed that the paper was still on the wall, and kept my fingers crossed, hoping Saanvi and I wouldn’t get into trouble for it.
We didn’t.
A/N: Not all dialogue has been extracted word for word and may or may not have been modified for grammatical correctness.

Tuesday, 02/01/2018
As expected, I nearly wrote 2017. This will probably go on for the next few weeks.
I can’t really write as much as I usually do for this one since we were once again at the paediatric ward, making lanterns, butterflies and planes. I personally found Saanvi’s reaction to the first room quite amusing- it was the child of one of her previous teachers.
We’d been with four patients that day, hence the sudden exhaustion of our art supplies. The teacher’s child was quite silent despite our attempts at cheery banter, which made reading stories a bit difficult. We stuck to making a colourful lantern as well as two butterflies- one for himself and another for his sibling. It was hard to tell how much he really liked the butterfly, but he held the lantern like it held some kind of power- maybe it did to him.
Kids have the most beautiful imaginations, in my opinion. The only problem is that they fail to put it into words, and half the time adults don’t really pay attention to their ideas because they find their kids blabbering on to be ‘annoying’.
It’s not that adults and teens don’t have creative minds either- I just think that the world is at a risk of losing plenty of quality content simply because we don’t listen to kids enough and don’t expose them to the world more.
We ended up leaving that room quite early, after which the nurse took us to another room, which was for some reason, much darker than the rest. I wasn’t appreciative of the lack of light- there’s a kid in there, so why would you keep the room like that?
The patient was a little boy aged at around four. I pulled out coloured paper without even giving the option of a book- from what I’d seen with previous patients, the girls were the only ones who were likely to say yes to books. The boys just wanted to move around and play. I didn’t like the obvious differentiation I had to do between genders, but I left it because they were just children.
He chose the same colours the boys from yesterday had picked- blue and red, hence creating a Superman lantern. Or a Spiderman lantern, I suppose. Black is also associated with Spiderman because it is the colour of spiders, so perhaps it’s just Superman. He also had fun playing with the scissors. Once again, we received the same question that we got form every single patient/parent of the patient- “Which organization are you girls from?”
And we gave the same answer “We’re school students; we’re not from any organization. We’re here as volunteers”
And then the follow-up: “Is this your school project?”
Then our response: “No, this is our own initiative.”
I included this because at this point I was getting tired of answering those questions and dealing with their cynical beliefs. Does every action have to come with some sort of monetary or academic benefit? Is that what adults see student life as?
At any rate, I noticed another thing throughout this experience. This was a change in Saanvi’s behaviour- she was starting to speak out a little more and take more initiative in conversations with patients. I liked that change, but of course completely crediting myself for a change would by ludicrous. In fact, giving me credit at all would be silly. The experience on a whole was bound to make that change for her.
I can imagine her expression right now as she reads this- well Saanvi, I write what I see, and I see what I write ?
Once we left the dark room, we visited two sisters and once again, ended up reading books and doing paper craft. I was worried since I had completely run out of blue paper, but luckily none of the next patients wanted blue, and Saanvi had some anyway.
After the two sisters, we visited a little girl who was once again, incredibly shy. She sat in her mother’s lap the entire time, who seemed to be a pretty talkative woman. Once we were done with our paper craft, the patient’s father came in as well and managed to strike up a lovely conversation with me and Saanvi- he asked me several questions about the IB curriculum, all of which I did not hesitate to answer. Once we were done, Saanvi and I stepped out, only to realize that we’d spent fifteen extra minutes in the hospital.
“Fifteen minutes!” I was a little surprised. “I never thought we’d go overdue...”
“You talked a lot about the IB.” Saanvi pointed out.
“True… I guess it’s a problem. I talk way too much when I know a lot about something, don’t I?”
I wasn’t expecting an answer, but Saanvi simply nodded and said “Yes.”
A/N: Not all dialogue has been extracted word for word and may or may not have been modified for grammatical correctness.

Thursday, 04/01/2018
Once again, I accidentally wrote 2017. Typical, typical.
Thursday- our last volunteering day. You’d expect me to finish it off with a bang, but it didn’t exactly start that way. I woke up a lot later than expected, forgot my Volunteering ID and ended up reaching the hospital a little late- but in my defence, I had stopped to buy a gift for Saanvi.
“You didn’t have to do this!” Saanvi said as she admired the box of gold-wrapped chocolates.
I shrugged. “But I did.”
“Well, why not?”
I liked playing the short-ended answer game- it tended to result in the most wonderful reactions ever. As expected, I could tell that Saanvi was partially annoyed by my stinginess in giving answers. Mission successful.
I thought we’d be at the paediatric ward again, but instead we were once again posted in the medical ward. Our first patient was a woman in probably her thirties, from Kolkata. She was lively and interesting, although that could be an understatement. A great conversationalist and good at arousing interest. She’d had a stone removed from her gall bladder, which she showed to us. Her idea was to keep it as a souvenir and show it to her children, since they were still puzzled as to how stones could possibly end up in the human body. Her brother was there with her, and he’d been working on an essay for his Masters in Law. He’d joined in the conversation as well, which was mostly about school systems and the injustice of the math-and-science culture, particularly in India. I managed to clarify quite a few the stereotypes they’d held on to about the IB curriculum, particularly the one about it being much easier and zero effort being required.
Dear India- no, the IB isn’t easy. And it wasn’t a route I took just to escape from CBSE pressure- I could’ve tackled that as well. But I chose not to.
We also talked a bit about the British curriculum, and we could’ve gone farther with the topic had the nurse not come in and informed us that the patient was to be discharged. The patient looked obviously pleased- we bade her farewell as she wished us a good future, which always makes you feel a little better. We all want someone to think about us and take our lives into consideration. We want to matter.
I opened the door to the next room and to my surprise, in front of us lay a girl who seemed to be around my age- and it turned out she was. She was from a school I was familiar with, and she was in the hospital due to severe stomach pains and another condition I didn’t quite understand. She was unable to speak too well, which was why she turned to her mother every time me or Saanvi asked her something. Her mother answered all our questions politely, but in the end I realized that it was probably inappropriate to keep talking to her if she couldn’t respond despite her desire to do so. We wished her best of luck for her upcoming exams and quickly left- which gave us the time to visit another patient.
The next one was a man who was watching TV when we came in. At first he seemed sceptical about our presence, but eventually he started to open up until it was time for us to go. We went to the nursing administrator’s office, but she was again at a meeting. We had the option of waiting for an hour, which I passed on- I had a dentist appointment to go to. Instead Saanvi and I met at the hospital once again that day in the evening, when we met Dr. Kavitha. She asked us about her experience, and I did not hesitate to go into detail about the satisfaction I’d felt when the patients smiled at me and the things I’d learned from different people with different stories.
“Sometimes, we realize that’s something’s wrong a little too late.” She said. “But what matters the most is that we don’t lie around, instead we get up and do something about it, even if that something means bringing a simple smile to someone’s face.”
She sent us to the Human Resources Manager Mr. Jophy, who was to make certificates for me and Saanvi. He said that he’d need a note of some sort- proof of our regular presence at the hospital and the activities we partook in. That was when I took the opportunity to bring this up:
“I actually intend to write about my volunteering experience- kind of like an online journal. Would you consider that as a note?”
Mr. Jophy nodded and said that the certificates would come soon, once I had sent him the note.
And now I’m nearly done. I can send it to him.
Hence I conclude what I can easily say has had an impact on the way I think and act around different people. I conclude my hospital volunteering experience right here, right now. Goodbye!
A/N: Not all dialogue has been extracted word for word and may or may not have been modified for grammatical correctness.
I would also like this opportunity to thank all the people who brought about this experience and made it the way it was: Dr. Kiran Rai- for initiating this process as soon as I showed interest in volunteering at the hospital and pushing the first buttons, Major Tom- for making me feel comfortable as he interviewed us and allowed us to volunteer, Dr. Kavitha and Mr. Jophy- for all the support we’re received, all the nurses at NMC Specialty Hospital and most importantly, Saanvi Rai for sticking with me throughout this experience. Thank you all so much for making this happen!

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