A New Life Chapter: Creating My Own Pathway Into A Career In Medicine


village raising
I couldn’t forget where I came from. The Village of Lawa, in South West Bay, Malekula in Vanuatu had a huge influence and support to shape me and my views on the world. Photo Credit: Uplift Connect

“It takes a village to raise a child but it takes a child to raise a village. My previous piece https://wordpress.com/post/adenemustribalgirl.wordpress.com/1908 saw me in a very conflicting state. I had to question myself whether it was worth going on an international humanitarian mission, living my life and completely overlooking my parents to support their quality of life from the villagers. Lets face it-people like to talk. They make up stories. They will talk and backstab. Some will claim they had a lot to do with my upbringing. Others criticise my parents. The media is the same.

I had to do a lot reflective writing to work through some huge stumbling blocks.

Fast forward to after a year of doing international humanitarian work, risking my life and health, going without a full time income, and rearranging my life goals; I am in a different space. I am betting and believing that this village, the village that helped raise me will no longer want to murder me literally, but would rather see the bigger benefits of my contributions to and for them in 10 years time.

Here are some beautiful, yet confronting images of a mission I contributed to by Lise Lotte Winter Nielsen, a humanitarian. Its hard to imagine life up the road where up to a million people are displaced and lives are in total disarray. Down the coast of the Longest Beach in the World, Cox Bazar, life is “Normal.”

Life is like that. The world is like that. The neighbourhood is like that. We can easily turn a blind eye and pretend nothing is happening right on our doorstep.

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I have a hundred million thoughts racing through my brain. The priorities have been largely focused on transitioning back into a “normal life” in society after my second humanitarian mission with the International Red Cross in 2018.

That includes being able to rest without reading or watching TV or Netflix, being able to sleep without taking any sleeping pills and retraining my Circadian Rhythm Clock to reset. It has been challenging with my transitionings.

But I am so reassured by Tank (Entrepreneur)’s lessons on why rest is so important and the power of downtime for entrepreneurs. I recently tweeted him on Twitter (to which he acknowledged and responded with a retweet) to acknowledge his contribution, insights and reminders to the importance of resting. His article is here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/325224

My Gratitude Journal became my most valuable asset during the tough times. Photo Credit: Booktopia

I find myself still writing in the wee early hours of the morning at 3am.

In my Gratitude Journal. In my Well-Being Journal. In My Attitude of Gratitude Journal. In my Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self Exploration. There is something about that Journal that brings such a satisfying emotion. It makes me rest better.

Mostly I am writing down Business Ideas that pop up.

Who I was going to approach as my potential mentor. I would love one. I’ve never had one. Dr Jonathan Coleman seems to be in my journal for a bit although I haven’t approached him as yet. He is currently the CEO of Acruity Healthcare and I currently work there casually (https://www.acurity.co.nz/home).

Photo Credit: Kathleen E Murphy of Market Me Too.

My good friend Maureen Gillon reminded me that a mentor’s job is to empower the mentoree to develop their own strengths, beliefs, and personal attributes. It is NOT about telling the mentoree what to do. Instead to help them discover their own skills and passion and to work on them. Over the years I have never had a mentor. I would really love to have one. Maureen encouraged me with something I won’t forget, ‘Leina the journey you are undertaking now will lead you to some powerful mentors, they will be influencers and advisors on a power-influencing level for you. This journey will lead you to them.’ The power of self-education and self-investment through 100 library books on self development and growth became a substitude for me over the years as I missed out on having a mentor. I kept reading from the Wellington City Library to further develop my constraints and difficulties to build on them.

Wahakura-a sleeping pod for infants 0-6 months old. Photo Credit: Radio NZ

I have brainstormed a few business ideas on how to help out with the Wahakura or Pepi Pods (Moses Baskets). These Flax bassinette baskets are life-saving for reducing the rates of Suddent Infant Death Syndrome in New Zealand, especially for our Maori Wahines and mamas, an idea that was developed by Dr David Tipene. Tipene-Leach emphasized something that became ingrained in me.

He wanted “to become a doctor because it was a powerful position in the community to make change.” He was certainly contributing to that prescription for change. I felt drawn more into that context as I was trying to build a maintain a good character through the years. There was that drive that I couldn’t resist any more. I had to act on it.

There is a huge international market for the wakaura baskets too. The benefits have been large considering what it has done here for our NZ babies. The fact that our New Zealand Prime Minister has been gifted one with her new baby says a lot about how life changing these baskets have transformed the neonatal death rates here. Check out the NZ Herald here: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11989118

The banning of plastics in retail has made me think a lot about how we could create weaving jobs for our Pacific Island Women with their pandanus or bilum baskets.

bilum collection
A combination of Bilum and Pandanus baskets from the Pacific. It would create a lot of sustainable businesses for our Rural Pacific Women. Photo Credit: Charlie Taylor

The recent summer festivals which include the New Year Festivals around NZ saw a huge dumping of single plastic tents! Wouldn’t it be more eco-friendly if there are intiatives put into place for saving our oceans to design environment-friendly tents? Or perhaps maintained and stored?

All festivals should strive to provide eco-friendly tents. It would hugely contribute to our protection of the environment. Tents from Rythm n Vines NZ 2012. Photo Credit: Paul Hoelen on Wildernest

Other business ideas have included a special deep wound closing gel combo that I want to develop from using the manuka honey. The use of manuka honey to treat chronic deep wounds and ulcers, chemical and fire burns from my humanitarian mission experiences has been an eye-opener. It will involve me carrying out some Lab experiments in the Chemistry Labs some days in Medicine.

Well, the list is endless! I’ve been so inspired by Sarah Blakely’s 99 pages of Business Ideas that I just keep writing-even though half don’t even make sense! Blakely’s Business Ideas (Spanx Founder) are found here on an interview by Liz Brody: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/322936

Manuka Honey from Otago-a potential business idea from my sleepless nights. Photo Credit: Otago Daily Times

What people don’t really get a grip on is that the transitioning back into a normal life can be very tough on an International Delegate. The transition time is a special time where a delegate can be so vulnerable, so raw and so disconnected from a first world country or home. It is tough putting on that brave integrity of appearing to be ‘strong and complete.’ It is times like this that families and friends play a critical role in a delegates recovery. The psychologist package that NZ Red Cross offers it’s delegates has been a saving grace for me.

That self care is absolutely essential. I am forever grateful for it.

self care
A Pschologist package includes self care. Caption: Pinterest

I spent most of my 2018-2019 summer lying in bed.


I slept. Yes I slept.

It was like my daily cycle. Nothing else matters. Not even Christmas. I slept through Christmas lunch. I’ve retrained myself to listen to my body and to respect it a little bit more. I look after it. I gave up temporarily on my social life to be able to recover and heal well. It will take a good 6 months for me to fully recover to being a functional health professional again. And thats ok. There is no judgement in that.

There was no NZ Pavlova Pudding for me on Christmas Day as I slept! Photo Credit: Countdown

But the most exciting news is that I will be going back into University. My journey into Medicine has just started at the University of Otago in Dunedin (www.otago.ac.nz).

I am moving cities.

I am rearranging my whole life, my environment, my networks.

This is a completely new chapter for me.

I am a mature student. I will be a mature student in the midst of young teens.

I will be losing my professional income.

What I have found incredibly humbling, touching and emotional has been the offers from both Medical Doctors and good friends. They have genuinely honoured the work that I have done.

I am gracious about it.

They have offered to pay for my food with financial contributions. Others have reached out to me in other ways offering beds and a place to stay during university holidays. They have helped me raise funds to buy a new laptop for my university studies. I have found my “family” in them. Others have reached out to me to cover costs related to academia like textbooks and surgical instruments. Some have helped me paved a good transitioning pathway for a public and private hospital jobs. I will not forget these heartwarming and heartfelt contributions. They will remain with me.

Medical School
University of Otago, Dunedin School of Medicine where I will be based for the next 3 years. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

I will have to somehow fund my own studies. I am hoping the NZ Government will be able to help me for the next couple of years while I anchor down. It comes with the skills of basic budgeting again. I will only buy what I really need instead of other luxuries. Other luxuries would include being able to go to the movies every 6 months, being able to go on a holiday once a year and going on a retail shopping spree for therapeutic purposes.

Sadly, I won’t be getting any financial help from the Vanuatu Government. But my long term goals remain as a priority; to go back to that tropical paradise and to serve it’s people medically.

I have often envisioned this blissful lifestyle and going on an African Safari but could never afford them. Photo Credit: Planet Polaris

But why would I worry or stress about losing out on these luxuries you may ask? To be honest, yes I worry about not being able to afford repairs from my real estate but thats manageable. It can be done. I can get a Registered Nursing job at the Dunedin Hospital or the private hospital called Mercy during the weekends and university holidays. It forces me to think creatively and budget even smarter. RN-badge

The luxuries of being on the Interislander ferry through the beautiful Marlborough sounds can’t be beaten! I am not missing out at all.

To be able to go on a holiday? Well, that can be done. I will still be a volunteer and stay active as an International Delegate for the NZ Red Cross roster. The travels that come with this package is ten times more worthwhile for humanity with a purpose.

nz red cross
NZ Red Cross International Delegates are highly sought- after with their flexibility and expertise. Photo Credit: NZ Red Cross

I will need to rely on my ability and skills to network to gain value both academically and socially. But these are small minute things that do not faze me anymore.

I’ve been exposed to the worst during my humanitarian missions and I have survived them. They have taught me so much. More than I have ever imagined or asked for. It has been an abundance of learning, maturing and managing the biggest life risks.

These days the beautiful photos of these boats in that part of the world still capture healing memories of these missions for me as they bring hope to some very dark places for a lot of displaced people. Image Credits to International Humanitarians Kathrine Lamark, Margie Lee, Stine Williamson Torbersgen, Solveig Svengaard, Arto Koponen, Ingeborg Pedersen, Sari Bergstrom, Manuela Logan, Martin Norgaard and Ingibjorg Inolfsdottir.

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But for now, I will pause.

I will smell the roses.

I will enjoy the surroundings of the beautiful Marlbourough Sounds of New Zealand as I travel down to the beautiful South Island to start another chapter. A chapter that will be life changing. It will be a chapter that will raise a few eye brows for once.

marlborough sounds
The beautiful Marlborough Sounds in NZ. Photo Credit: Marlborough NZ

Poised as one of our elegant and historical Universities in New Zealand and in the world, the University of Otago will be my home for the next 6 years. I am honoured to be a student there.


It will be humbling to celebrate 150 years of the Alumini calendar this year of 2019. This is a chapter that will be worthwhile in Dunedin, New Zealand!

dunedin clock
Otago University Clock Tower: Photo Credit: Otago University




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