Ondria Cheeseman has always wanted to write a book since her early days.
It was her volunteering experience at Klibur Domin in 2014 that pushed her along her bucket list giving her the much needed motivation to write and realize her dream.
At the age of three, Ondria needed to be hospitalized for heart surgery. She knew then that her calling was to nursing. That was in 1966 and fifty years on Ondria is still nursing.
She trained at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Upon her graduation she worked in Northern Territory, Western Australia, Papua New Guinea in the Duke of York Islands and Bougainville.
Ondria met her husband, Leicester, in Papua New Guinea and went to live in his homeland New Zealand, where they raised their three children.
Returning to Australia they settled in Ballarat, Victoria. Ondria worked in a variety of nursing positions and developed a serious interest in palliative care. This has been her main area of nursing in recent years.
About four years ago, she tried to retire, “I didn’t work out as I didn’t want to tidy my cupboards!”
Papua New Guinea made such a strong impression on Ondria, so much so, that she decided to go down that path again.
Ondria responded to an advertisement in the Ballarat Courier asking for volunteers to work at the Ryder-Cheshire overseas homes. Her credentials led her to the Klibur Domin Health Facility in Timor-Leste in 2014.
Whilst there she wrote up some basic procedures for medical conditions such as heart attacks, diabetes, asthma, stop smoking, high blood pressure and common cold. These procedures have been translated into the local language, Tetum. Upon her return to Ballarat, Ondria assisted the Ballarat Support Group under the guidance of the Director of Klibur Domin, Sr Joaquim Soares, to develop and design stop smoking educational resources materials to be used at Klibur Domin. These materials were financed through the generosity of the Ballarat Loreto College students. The students presented the no smoking materials to Sr Joaquim when he visited their College last year.
“Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste are two countries who face so many challenges in their health systems. My goal was always to work out how to make the most of what they have and perhaps just add a little more in which is both culturally acceptable and achievable, but still not be surprised if it is not as sustainable as I thought it might be and to just accept the reality of life. I wanted to learn from the local people and not to impose my ways on them.”
Ondria has achieved her goal on her bucket list. Nursing, Challenges, Laughter and Tears is finished and will be launched on Sunday 18th June at the Buninyong Bowls Club at 2pm. Her story is one spanning over fifty years of nursing. It is a down to earth recollection of her memories which are both humorous and touching. It is definitely an enjoyable must read.
“I have finished my book now and possibly will also finish work this year – perhaps it is time to tidy my cupboards!”
Ondria Cheeseman is a member of the Ryder-Cheshire Foundation Victoria-Ballarat Support Group.
Nursing, Challenges, Laughter and Tears can be purchased for $30 from:
Ryder-Cheshire Homes Victoria, 10-14 Donaldson Street, Ivanhoe, VIC (03) 9254 2400
Ondria Cheeseman email@example.com