Posted By: Kris Radder on April 12, 2011

Labels: Tonga , Health Care Education, Humanitarian Aid, Volunteers

As the first rotation of Project HOPE volunteers gear up for health care and health education work in Tonga, several Project HOPE volunteers have already boarded the USS Cleveland participating in an early start to the Pacific Partnership 2011.  

William Aiken, a nurse from Deming, Washington, boarded the USS Cleveland on the U.S. West coast and has sailed across the Pacific, learning and preparing along the way for his position as HOPE’s Operations Officer and Emergency Room Nurse.

“I hope my experience onboard the ship prior to the mission starting will help me acclimate the other Project HOPE volunteers and provide a smooth transition when they come aboard in Hawaii and Tonga,” Aiken says.

“It has been a bumpy start with getting the Internet and work flow going, but things have smoothed out. Everyone has been really wonderful, pleasant and very open to help. I'm learning to live in the ship environment, and at my age, it is a neat thing to be able to keep up with the younger people,” says Aiken.

Retired from the U.S. Navy and a very rewarding career as a nurse, Aiken is now excited about his new adventure as a medical volunteer.

"My inspiration is the magic of positive feedback from patients and the rewards from establishing good therapeutic relationships with people I treat. I love it,” he says. “It's just a huge reward, after 40-something years, I've been able to develop an appreciation for the healing power.”

Aiken says he is very excited about the upcoming mission. “There is no way of knowing what my job will be, however the main focus is on long-term sustainability. We are doing a lot of needs assessments and participating in daily communications with the medical staff,” he says. “I love all the people I have been working with. This is going to be hard work, but I know all the Project HOPE volunteers will enjoy their time on board the USS Cleveland and ashore helping those in need of health care in the South Pacific.”

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