Mission Croatia 2014

Published: 25 February 2015 at 13:18

LLB (Hons) Law student Gamze Sen and young patient on Mission Croatia 2014

by LLB (Hons) Law student Gamze Sen

Mission Croatia is part of Anglia Ruskin University's International Community Experience programme. In June of each year, Mission Croatia seeks to provide students and staff from various faculties and departments across the University with the chance to travel abroad. This International volunteering scheme is run by the Chaplaincy at Anglia Ruskin and is about serving and working with people who have less than we do. The purpose of the trip is simple: to work in three hospitals, situated in Kraljevica, Stancic and Filip Jakov, renovating parts of the buildings and providing nursing and care assistance for the learning-disabled children and young people of the hospitals. This year Mission Croatia had its last trip after 18 years continuous service by Anglia Ruskin staff and students.

Taking part in Mission Croatia 2014 as a 'newbie' has allowed me to be a part of an amazing legacy that has improved so many lives since it first began. When we arrived in Croatia, the overwhelming ethos and motivation was amazing. Despite the long journey, everyone was excited to get started.

I was a member of team Kraljevica. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The first things that struck me was the location by the sea, the peaceful hospital environment and the children's play area. Having such a supportive team and site boss made all the difference to adapt to Mission Croatia. We had a 6.30am wake up for a 7.00am breakfast.

The challenging part of MC was that every day was different. You never know what you were going to face. Sanding and painting railings, doors and window shutters can be tiring especially in the heat, but the desire to make a change made the process more enjoyable than I could ever have imagined. The hospital staff were all welcoming and clearly appreciated the work that has been done over the past years by Anglia Ruskin staff and students.

On my fifth day at Kral, I had the chance to visit the hospital ward, where I spent the morning with the clients providing care assistance. Seeing their needs, and the nurses working with so few resources, is humbling for someone who has never worked with disabled individuals. I was very nervous as I had no clue what to do or how to approach them, but once that first step is taken, once you have met all the beautiful smiles, you not only want to help improve the surrounds but also help the clients personally.Who knew that a smile, a touch and a conversation or even taking them for a walk around the hospital could bring so much joy to so many individuals?

Towards the end of our stay in Kraljevica team Kral organised a 'fun day', where we brought the clients out into sunshine in the playground. I now know that I can always find time to help others, and fully embrace the individual nature of every person I meet. Taking part in Mission Croatia has been such an incredible, amazing yet challenging life-changing experience. I feel like I had gone to Croatia, and left Croatia as two different individuals.

By the end of the experience I had come a long way. I had achieved much more than I thought I would, and as a result I gained more from this experience than I could ever have imagined. I came back home with a fantastic experience and so many memories to shared with friends and family.