Name: Josephine Gibbs
The opportunity to join her son on a school trip to India in 2015 was the start of a life-changing journey for Health and Wellbeing graduate Josephine Gibbs.
During the trip – her first ever outside of New Zealand – she spent two weeks caring for people at the Kalighat Home for the Dying in Kolkata, India.
Two years later, Josephine returned to the India for six weeks, where she continued to look after both the young and the old in need.
“My trips to India, and my time spent volunteering, has made me grow as a person and made me step out of my comfort zone. You look at yourself and realise how selfish we can become. There are people who have nothing, yet they have smiles on their faces. It’s a humbling experience,” said Josephine.
Caring has been a part of Josephine’s life from a young age, when she used to help the family doctor during house calls. She started her career in the caring profession as a nurse’s aide and went on to work with children in a healthcare capacity before ending up in her current roles as both a healthcare assistant and an assistant physiotherapist at Maidstone Hospital in Christchurch.
After her first visit to India, Josephine realised that she could apply her caring knowledge and skills universally. Although she has less resources to work with in India than she does in New Zealand, the care she provides is the same.
“People respond to being loved unconditionally. It’s the little things like giving them a hug, brushing their hair, or painting their nails that make a big difference. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can still bring laughter into someone’s life,” said Josephine.
With another trip in the pipeline for the end of this year, she hopes to be able to continue her work in India with annual visits.
“For me the trips are also about making friends and making connections. I enjoy building relationships with the other caregivers and gaining their trust, so we can help each other to give residents the best care possible.”