As ten students in Selkirk College’s Nursing Program travel to Guatemala this week, they embark on an eye-opening experience that wouldn’t be possible without the financial support of the community at large.
And this year, one local business stepped up and offered a generous donation that further motivates students as they represent our region in the Central American country.
Fundraising for the Selkirk College Nursing Program’s practicum in Guatemala continued on the Castlegar campus earlier this month as students sold burritos, a traditional food of the country that welcomes them this week.
A burger and beer fundraiser held last month at Castlegar’s Chances Casino brought $1,000 to the effort. Then, much to the surprise of the students, that evening Food and Beverage Manager Vance Co announced an extra donation of $2,164.
“Selkirk College has always been a pillar in the community of Castlegar, with a program that produces world class nurses,” said Co as he presented the funds on March 18.
Student nurse David Felton worked with Chances Casino organizing the event. The business offered the venue for free, use of the music system, free pool and the support of casino staff along with half the proceeds from the burger and beer dinner ticket.
A fundraiser for the Selkirk College Nursing Program’s practice in Guatemala held at Chances Casino in Castlegar last month raised $1,000 to support students on their journey. On top of that support, Chances came on board with an additional surprise donation of $2,164.47 that evening.
It was the first time nursing students had partnered with the casino and the support coming from them, including the generous surprise, was empowering, Felton says.
“I am going to Guatemala not only with my peers, but with the support of so many people and businesses from our community. Each and every one of them value health and wellbeing as much as I do,” he says. “This donation says that the community genuinely cares about social justice, that they are willing to stand up and recognize that the health of people in the global south is as important as their own.”
Student Sierra Gibson was thrilled with the surprise support of Chances Casino and says her group will travel south with this moment in mind.
“Chances took the initiative and set a high bar for local businesses,” she says. “This gracious sense of community support that Chances showed us in this moment brought many of us to tears. We felt valued, supported and appreciated.”
Grassroots Learning Experience
Third-year students travel to Guatemala—a country still ravaged by a 36-year civil war—to further develop community health nursing knowledge and skills both of which are central to nursing education today. They will be working with local grassroots organizations to promote health and well-being while taking into account the systematic social barriers that perpetuate severe poverty and related disease among the majority of the population in that country.
Nursing Program Instructor Mary-Ann Morris has been leading the Guatemala nursing practice since its start in 2006. Fundraising for travel has always been a significant component and she says unwavering support from the community is valued. The ever-popular Beans and Rice Dinner is just one of many efforts the public embraces.
“It’s just amazing that people continue to be supportive as we now celebrate our tenth anniversary of nursing student partnerships with Guatemala. We still see more people coming on board,” she says. “There’s a real appreciation of the interconnectedness of our communities with the communities in Guatemala and an awareness that the work our students do there reflects our community values.”
When students return from Guatemala they look forward to presenting their experiences throughout the West Kootenays hosting a number of different events over the next year. Students departed for Guatemala on April 20.