The University of Newcastle, Australia

UON continues to raise funds for Fairy Garden project in Thailand

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The School of Nursing and Midwifery has again raised additional funds for the Fairy Garden project at Lampang Hospital in Thailand, a project they helped open in 2012.

Fairy Garden Project Thailand

The Fairy Garden is a haven for sick children and their families as they cope with the stress of illness. Initially installed at John Hunter Hospital in one of the hospital's courtyards, it proved so popular that planning began for one in Thailand.

A group of Australian volunteers, including Associate Professor Pamela van der Riet, began planning in 2010 with the garden officially opening in April 2012. Delegations from UON have visited Lampang Hospital every year since, and are part of an increasingly international focus for the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

With the latest group of 12 students departing in the second week of June for a two-week study tour, their visit coincides with fundraising efforts at Callaghan, Ourimbah and Port Macquarie as part of recent International Nurses Day celebrations, with almost $2000 raised.

While the student trip is covered by the Federal government's New Colombo Mobility Program Plan, the fairy garden relies on community funding to sustain operations, which staff and students have continued to do since its opening.

Dr Van der Riet says that trips like these immerse students in the Thai system to teach the sorts of cultural sensitivities that help nurses in a multicultural nation such as Australia. Researchers are also discovering that these types of "healing environments" are having a tangible impact on the health of patients.

Dr Van der Riet has been lead author on two recent nursing journal articles written with her Thai colleagues on the experiences of families using the Lampang garden, with visible improvement to the quality of life for sick children. With many of the children suffering chronic diseases such as leukaemia and other life-threatening illnesses at the hospital, having the only green space that exists in Lampang hospital available for children helps alleviate the stress of long-term stays.

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