I've been working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the past three years, initially as a nurse in South Sudan, then as a Health Delegate in the Gaza Strip, and currently as a Hospital Project Manager in northern Myanmar.

I manage a 60-bed hospital project in collaboration with local health authorities. The town where I live and work has a population of around 10,000 people, and there are a number of Internally Displaced Persons camps nearby. Many of the people in these camps also use the hospital. They come to us with injuries from motorbike accidents, or malaria, and common illnesses like coughs and colds.

I work with an eight-person ICRC team of nurses, doctors, and midwives who come from Rwanda, Kenya, Australia, and Myanmar. Our main priority is to work with local doctors, nurses, and midwives to support them and assist in developing their clinical skills in the hospital. I’ve made many wonderful friends doing this work, and learned about several different cultures.

Myanmar countryside near Erin’s hospital project.

Myanmar countryside near Erin’s hospital project.

Myanmar is a beautiful country and the northern area where I am based is very green and lush. The markets boast an array of fresh produce, meat, flowers, and many other locally produced goods. The people are curious but friendly, and as I am tall - which is not common in Myanmar - I am an interesting sight for locals!

I always feel honoured to work for Red Cross, we do some very worthwhile work in often difficult contexts. I enjoy having an opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and engage with new people and new experiences, and I get to use my medical skills where they are needed most.

It is always nice to come home to New Zealand, doing this work has made me more appreciative of the peaceful and beautiful country we live in.

There is something very comforting about hearing “Kia Ora, welcome to New Zealand,” when the plane lands on home soil.