Megan Cruise is a trained counsellor with a wealth of experience and a passion for supporting young people and their families in Ghana. Halfway through her six-month volunteering stint in Ghana, she provides an insight into her journey so far and future aims.
"It’s now the halfway stage through my six-month voluntary project in Ghana and I feel a part of the family. I came to Ghana to try and offer further support to the children and their families affected by cancer alongside the amazing nurses who care for them. Although there is still a long way to go I believe we have been making positive progress.
"I am now delivering training sessions to the nurses focusing on the emotional impacts on childhood cancer, both on the families and the nurses themselves. Childhood cancer is an emotive subject that can be mentally exhausting and I am now in the process of creating further resources for nurses with advice on how to build resilience.
"I am preparing for life after I leave Ghana by engaging in “Train the Trainer” sessions. This will mean the nurses will be able to continue resilience training after my departure and hopefully develop a foundation for future nurses to follow.
"Having been able to spend a sustained period of time with the nurses, I have built a bond whereby they are able to talk openly and honestly about how their work impacts them. One of the most talked about topics has been the lack of support available to them and we are working to produce a long-term solution to improve this.
"Volunteering with the patients and their families has been a learning curve for both myself and them. I have been providing one to one counselling sessions with patients and siblings and have learnt that things move at a slower pace in Ghana. Despite this, I am confident that this will prove helpful for the children and their families. Importantly, the children are becoming more accustomed to having a safe place to voice their feelings. My support has extended to the parents and although this has been less frequent, I am continuing to build trusting relationships with them.
"I am now planning to introduce well-being classes to the children to help them support each other as well as themselves. These children are an inspiration with their determination but still need as much support as they can get and some may feel more comfortable when talking to one another.
"Lastly, I have offered to provide one to one counselling sessions to the nurses to help them deal with topics such as death and denial. There has been interest in this and I think it is important to provide the nurses as much support as they require.
"I hope the training and counselling sessions provided will help the patients, their families and the nurses cope with the experiences on a daily basis. This has already been a life changing experience and I hope to continue progressing for the duration of my stay."
As well as providing funds to cover essential treatment costs, we also develop twinning partnerships between healthcare professionals in the developed world, like Megan, and those in developing countries. Megan’s work will have a lasting impact to improve the treatment standards for children on the ward and also help the incredible nurses to cope with the day to day pressures of supporting with children with cancer.