March 7th, 2011
Truth be told, I never imagined I would travel to Africa-- I considered Europe and Australia, but never a third world country. In fact, I hadn't considered joining this expedition until a few months before we arrived. Having a rather diminished bank account after four years of University, I figured that this would be a safe and affordable opportunity to fulfill my post-graduate needs before I begin my career.
Our final days in Mongu have arrived, and the weeks we've spent at Lewanika Hospital have flown by. The differences in healthcare and hospital conditions which were once shocking and eye-opening have become accepted as common place. I, as well as many others, have just become comfortable working within this setting and find it difficult to comprehend that we will soon be enjoying a carefree week in Livingstone.
I have always known that it takes a specific person to be a nurse-- someone with a compassionate heart, a caring soul, and nurturing nature. These are aspects of nursing that we are taught in class and that are continuously admired by stranger when we disclose our career choice. However, I never truly understood nursing the way I do now, as I have learned from the 16 women I have spent a continuous 888 hours with thus far. At times it has been challenging to be in one another's presence on such as constant basis; however, mostly it has been a saving grace. Having someone to play crib or Dutch blitz with, to go for a bike ride, to sit and read quietly...Someone who has witnessed the same tragedy, poverty, helplessness, and pain you have witnessed helps ease the sadness and provide comfort. I think it is safe to say that we have each had a turn to play the therapist, and that we have each had a turn to have our eyes opened to the hardships that plague countries less fortunate than ours.
Undoubtedly, the experiences we have had will change our perspectives of healthcare, change our hardened hearts, change our priorities in life, and change our relationships with one another-- forever.