Beans and rice dinner is Friday in Rossland

Selkirk nursing students are putting on the Beans and Rice Dinner to fundraise for a trip to Guatemala.

Selkirk nursing students will once again be putting on the popular Beans and Rice Dinner

Selkirk nursing students will once again be putting on the popular Beans and Rice Dinner

Selkirk nursing students are putting on a Beans and Rice dinner to fundraise for a trip to Guatemala.

The students are asking Rossland to join them for a traditional Guatemalan dinner Friday at Rossland Secondary School.

The dinner will support third-year Selkirk College nursing students who will participate in a practice experience to Guatemala this spring.

Ten nursing students will travel to Guatemala in April for three weeks as part of an international experience.

The students will share their knowledge and learn from four different grassroots organizations whose work, within their communities promoting health as a basic human right, has brought about significant positive social change.

Mary-Ann Morris, who instructs the nurses at Selkirk, has lead the class each time.

Morris said the group is fortunate to once again have the opportunity to travel to Guatemala.

“The beauty of this particular trip is that we meet with the same practice partners, so the relationship over the years has deepened and the opportunities to work more collaboratively grow with those relationships,” Morris said. “We have 10 students going, all of them from the West Kootenays, so the experience for them is in coming to understand more fully how factors outside of the healthcare system come to influence people’s health and well-being, so they’re looking at those broader pieces of community health.”

Morris said the students get a lot of theory around broader determinants of health, such as housing, a decent living wage, inclusion in a community and potable water and sewerage and environmental health, how all of these pieces influence whether or not one is healthy and how a person lives in a community.

“That’s a little bit more difficult to see in a country like Canada, where people who are struggling with those factors are invisible,” she said. “Or there is still a prevailing sense that somehow they are the fault, an individual issues, not a societal issue.”

Morris explained that in a country like Guatemala, where those issues are so much more self-evident, students find themselves able to see it at home as well.

“When they come back they are so much more aware of it,” she said.

Students from last year will speak to their experiences at the dinner.

Previous Selkirk groups visited urban free-trade zones, highland villages where community health and well-being is being affected by Canadian mining operations, and the remote north-eastern jungle region of the country, where government health services are almost non-existent.

For the nursing students, the practical experience brings to life the incredible resilience, capacity, and creativity of the Guatemalan people.

This helps to actively confront the formidable challenges to health that they face, and in doing so, poignantly illustrates the benefits of collaboration around health between the northern and the southern countries.

A number of students who are about to graduate from the program live in Rossland.

Five of them will be coming to Rossland to speak.

This is the program’s seventh trip and so far 62 students have graduated, with the majority working as nurses  in the Kootenays.

“It really does hit home. They have a much broader global perspective and so they tend to be more active in their professional bodies, in their community organizations and in their unions, to collectively influence change,” Morris continued.

The dinner is the final major fundraising effort to send the group south in the spring. Abundant community support has been the foundation in making this international practice experience possible, and they are grateful to local citizens, businesses and organizations.

“Consequently, I think that’s why we’ve been blessed with incredible community support,” she said. “The students aspirations seem to really resonate with community members, and I’ve heard community members say ‘I’m physically unable to go but what you’re doing is precisely what I want to support, so we don’t really on corporate donations.’”

Instead, it comes down to small individual donations that collectively make up the effort.

She said it’s not only individuals, but community businesses as well, which have been consistently generous in donating items for things like the silent auction.

The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with dinner at 6 p.m. That will be followed by a presentation by last year’s students.

Cost is $10 at the door. Children are welcome.

For more information please call 354-4791.