LEBANON – Giving the gift of time brings joy to patients who need a friend
In Lebanon, Take Action volunteers donated their time and companionship to elderly and intellectually disabled patients at a Beirut hospital.
How do we measure happiness? For the Take Action Novo Nordisk Lebanon team, the answer is simple – happiness comes from human interactions and lasting relationships. With this in mind, the team gave their most valuable commodity – time – to develop close relationships with thirty patients at a Beirut hospital.
For these patients, daily human contact with people apart from hospital staff and other patients is rare. In fact, not a single one of the patients had had a visitor for the past few years. To turn this situation around, each volunteer was matched with one patient who they committed to visit and spend time with each month.
The volunteers were excited about their first visit, but not really knowing what to expect, they were also a little anxious. Any concerns quickly turned to enjoyment at the warm reception they received from the staff and patients. It also became clear that the encounter would not only be rewarding for the patients – it’s also been a great experience for the volunteers.
Following the initial visit, volunteers were told they were welcome to drop by and visit their friend anytime during the week (and weekends) from 8am to 6pm. After a few visits, the patients began to look forward to seeing their new friend, and strong relationships began to form.
The volunteers often visit together in a group, and at other times with their partners, or alone. The visits are often spent playing cards or games, telling stories, and some of the patients even get to enjoy a manicure.
It’s been a rewarding journey for everyone involved. The patients and volunteers have become part of each other’s worlds and now share a special bond. And for all, a renewed sense of happiness and fulfilment that something so simple as human interaction can have such a great effect.
VIETNAM – Ensuring a positive start to education
Volunteers from Novo Nordisk Vietnam improved the learning environments and conditions for young children at two primary schools in remote rural locations.
For young children, a positive school start in early childhood can make all the difference to their future. With this in mind, the Vietnam Take Action team raised funds and gathered materials to make a difference at early childhood education facilities in two remote communities.
Located in a remote village in the Tien Giang province, the Phu Thuan kindergarten and primary school has about 50 students ranging in age from four to seven-years old. Built in the mid-1980s, the school’s three classrooms were in need of refurbishment and redecoration.
To raise funds for construction and educational materials, employees from across the affiliate generously donated money, and employees collected and sold items they no longer needed at a garage sale.
Though the village is only a two-hour bus drive from Ho Chi Minh City, the journey is challenging. At one stage, the volunteers had to exit the bus and carry all the supplies by hand.
During the day, the team painted the interior and exterior of the classrooms in a fresh, bright blue and painted playful motifs on the walls. They also installed electric fans, and established a library, complete with new books and toys. The team also held a health workshop for the children, who received goodie bags containing nutritional snacks and school stationery.
The second school to benefit was the Muong Hum school in north Vietnam. Located in one of the poorest areas of the mountainous north, the school’s 52 students are from the Dao ethnic minority.
Following the five-hour journey, the volunteers built a 25 m2 kitchen, and renovated the toilet facilities. The team also donated books, bookshelves, a first aid kit, electric fan, food containers, and each child received a winter coat to keep them warm during the region’s harsh winters.
The smiling faces of the young children and the gratitude of community members, and the staff of both schools made a huge impression on the volunteers. This positive reaction will certainly provide encouragement for any future Take Action activities.