[ Note : We had the good fortune to interview one of the most remarkable Kiwinoy individuals we’ve met in Nurse Kristel Sevilla, and the result is the repost below. Thanks to Ms Didith Tayawa Figuracion and Ms Meia Lopez, publisher and editor of Kabayan Magazine in Wellington for allowing us to repost this. If you would like to see the rest of issue no. 5 online, please click this link! Mabuhay Kabayan Magazine and the Pinoy community in Wellington NZ! ]
IN THE last few years, so many things have happened to our kabayan, nurse Kristel Sevilla, that one might be led to think that she has led the adventures of half a lifetime. But this twentysomething has not even begun to live her multi-faceted life, and indeed, so soon after only her second anniversary as a Kiwi-Pinoy.
Before we continue with her OFW tale, we must tell you that besides her job as a pediatric nurse at worldclass Hutt Hospital down in Wellington, Kristel is an active member of the Pinoy Catholic community of Paraparaumu , volunteers for the Munting Bayanihan Dance Ministry (also in Paraparaumu), is currently a servant leader in the Wellington Filipino Chaplaincy, and sings soprano in the Wellington Filipino Choir. If you think saying that was quite a mouthful, then try actually doing those things, which Kristel does with as much commitment as a barangay captain, religious sister or professional singer.
But she didn’t plan to wear so many hats in her dream job overseas. In fact, our kabayan didn’t even intend to point at New Zealand on the spinning globe. Out of the possible work destinations for an experienced Pinay nurse (nearly limitless, actually), Kristel narrowed in down to the United Kingdom and NZ, the latter a recent choice given the obvious advantages (healthy environment, English speaking and immigrant friendly), but Middle Earth offered an intriguing option : devoid of any Kristel’s friends and family, she saw the country as the best opportunity to sharpen her skills at independence.
And her resourcefulness was indeed tested even before she arrived on Middle Earth’s shores. On the longest leg of her journey here, Kristel’s skills as a medical professional were put to the test by a fellow passenger who was suffering blinding pain from somewhere in his abdomen. Intuitively drawing on her knowledge and experience, our kabayan heroine suspected liver-related issues and made sure her suspicions were relayed to the airline’s doctor on the ground. For her grace under pressure, Kristel earned the thanks and gratitude not only from her co-traveller but the airline as well. This, even before she practiced a single day of nursing in New Zealand.
There were a few months of loneliness and adjustment, especially in Palmerston North, where malls close at 5.00 pm and streets are deserted shortly after. But anywhere there are kabayan, there are churches, and where there are churches there are church groups. Back home, Kristel was hardly a joiner but like most of us, she was raised to be a devoted member of the Catholic church. In no time, Kristel found herself serving in multiple capacities in different Catholic organizations, and the loneliness turned to the flurry of service and activity.
Beyond all of these, nothing is more important to our fellow OFW than her work taking care of recovering children in one of the busiest hospitals in New Zealand. More than the precious dollars and peer recognition that many of us aspire for, it’s the intangibles that make Kristel’s day. Kiwi nurses frequently ask her why patients send a personal message of thanks to Kristel in a culture where impersonal service is the norm.
She also takes pride in the fact that more than one child in the pediatrics ward has named her favorite doll after her. it doesn’t take too much to conclude, the parents say, that the favorite doll is named after the favorite nurse.
And any time Kristel is a child’s favorite nurse, it makes her day.