Volunteer nurse Grace talks about her first-time volunteering experience with Project Harar in Cheshire post-operative centre and how a seemingly small thing can make a big difference.

This is the first time I have volunteered with Project Harar and I've joined the mission for the patients’ post-op recovery phase. A lot of them have already been discharged so we have more time to spend with the patients after our daily clinic rounds, playing games or chatting.

I spent one day colouring-in with a small group of patients and we started to write our names on a piece of paper – all except one patient, Zeynab.

Zeynab was treated for Noma, a facial gangrene that had left a hole in her cheek. She tends to be quite shy and more withdrawn than other patients – and she looked really sad when she couldn't write her name like the others.

So, today I decided to try and teach her. Explaining my plan to her was challenging as she speaks a different language to most of our patients, so only a few people were able to translate for her. But, once she understood, she was really eager to learn! We started with her joining dots I had drawn to spell out her name, and then she began practising solo. After half an hour she was making really good progress.

We'll practice one page every day and I think she'll get it. 

Even more satisfying than seeing the progress she made was the change in her - for the rest of the day she was happier, chattier and seemed more confident.