Some moments promote reflection. After an overnight flight from Perth to Johannesburg, I was bleary eyed and the sun was still below the horizon. A deserted OR Tambo airport echoed the rhythmical hum of the travelator. I lay prostrate across 4 chairs outside gate A20, airport vinyl sticking to my back, head a little sore, waiting for the world to kick into gear and somewhere to open so I could get a coffee fix. The gift of seeing the sunrise is often forced onto me by my young family; a time of day usually filled with nappy changes, making breakfast, moments of play and then off to work.
Here, alone, in-transit to Tanzania, the sun was rising over an empty set of aerobridges waiting to receive todays travellers. In this moment there was space. Friends, family, work and the free airport wifi were a world away (clearly wifi admin didn’t appreciate my alter-ego and dummy email address). A moment of clarity and time for reflection; what draws me to invest so much time, energy and resources into VAST. Why remove myself from family, a restful sleep in my own bed and be subject to the inevitable re-adjustment upon return that goes hand-in-hand with these trips?
The empty airport and the awaiting aerobridges said it all. Opportunity. For me, VAST represents a set of challenges diametrically opposed to my routine anaesthesia practise. A degree of creativity and problem-solving is required, executing a different part of my brain, bringing its own reward. Beyond the impact on me, I feel VAST also provides a forum that can unite people in a transformative learning experience. This holds true for the educators that we mentor into simulation facilitators, the international volunteers who learn as much from their colleagues as the teaching they impart and for the course participants who ideally walk away with new understandings and frameworks to support their clinical practise. Being of the many that are helping drive this process is a wonderful thing.
2020 looms large for VAST:
– Dalhousie University will continue to be a hub for VAST related activities
– With the support of the WFSA, we will be conducting courses in India and Tanzania plus will be applying for grants that will enable dissemination of VAST into many new regions
– Thanks to the support of the ANZCA Overseas Aid Development Committee we will be running Instructor Courses in Ethiopia and Darwin, building new networks and starting implementation planning for future courses in Kenya, Sudan, Solomon Islands, East Timor and Fiji
– We will continue to partner with CASIEF to support course delivery in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Canada as well as explore new partnerships
– The Australian Society of Anaesthetists and Fiji National University and have committed to bolster VAST in Fiji with delivery of Courses on a recurring basis
– The VAST Directors are working towards establishing VAST as not-for-profit company
– We have developed a research proposal investigating VAST Facilitator competencies. Fingers crossed for the grant application associated with this project.
None of the above is possible without the support of the VAST Network. This obviously includes all the volunteers giving their time and energy to be part of our projects. In this moment of reflection, it is also important for us to acknowledge all the other people that allow this work to happen. A massive thank you to all the friends, families and colleagues that are directly and indirectly involved in VAST.
All the best for 2020.
VAST Founder and Managing Director