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Taking passion in counseling hospice patients voluntarily

Author: Aquinas Nyakundi
05 June 2014
  • Paul Kiragu; volunteer at Nyeri Hospice

Meet Paul Kiragu, a university student spending his free time as a volunteer at Nyeri Hospice

Paul Kiragu is a student pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce at Dedan Kimathi University who has found passion volunteering at Nyeri hospice.

His passion developed after undertaking a course in counseling persons with cancer conducted by the National Aids Council and its partners at their school.

“We were then tasked to look for a cancer institution and apply the skills we had learnt,” says Kiragu.

He says that though not a mandatory requirement, he joined hands with like-minded colleagues, formed a group of 24 members and started going to primary and secondary schools around to give talks on cancer.

Kiragu says that at times the team could go to children homes and share the knowledge they had learnt from the training.

In December 2012, the team met with Nyeri hospice resource mobilizer and asked if they could pay a visit. Their request was granted.

“We were given a warm welcome by the team at hospice and given a chance to plant a tree before we could socialize with the patients,” says Kiragu.

When they finally met the patients in a forum, each of the members was given five minutes to give a word of encouragement. “It was not as easy as the sessions we had in primary and high school. Addressing someone with a life threatening illness was quite difficult for us at first.” He says.

He adds that the fear has since gone and most times when the team visits the hospice, he is the Master of Ceremony during the session.

“I love the engagement when we talk to them and they take our advice and finding out that they have accepted their situation gives us motivation to continue encouraging them,” says Kiragu.

When he is not with the patients, he involves himself with other kitchen chores like cleaning utensils used by patients.

His wish is to enroll for a course in palliative care so that when he goes to the village, he can spread work about the support palliative care gives to patients with cancer and other life threatening illnesses.

Kiragu says that he is looking forward to recruit more students who have undertaken the counseling course to increase the group's members to 50.

“I come from a village where someone I knew died of cancer and there was no knowledge whether such services are available.” He says.

He says that he now knows that even if one has cancer, s/he can be cared for to not only live longer but live comfortably adding that the experience he has gained at Nyeri Hospice as a volunteer has boosted his compassion for the sick in society.

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