OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative

Walking in Sand

Mongu is built on the edge of a huge flood plain; the flood plain leading to the great Zambezi River. It is built on sand and as we all are learning, it takes special skill and stamina to walk in sand. So does it take special skill and stamina to “be” in this special place, in the hospital and in the clinics. Like walking in sand it can be trying …( sand in shoes, slipping backwards, slogging along) ). Like walking in sand, it can tire, defeat and wear down the walker. Like walking in sand, it can build character and strength (strong muscles, determination, meeting the challenges, critically thinking, learning from watching the local sand walkers).

So I watch how everyone adapts to “walking in sand”; each making their way in their own unique style. Some are watchers of local sand walkers; some stride right in and struggle a bit and some ask to be accompanied by someone skilled in walking in sand. And so we all make our way.

The important thing is we all learn to practice our nursing art with compassion and grace. We all learn respect for our colleagues who do this every day. Nursing here relies on using your senses; your knowledge and your intuition. The nurses here work within a system that is chronically short of supplies and human resources. The technical and laboratory supports are basic…there are no code teams, no IV nurses; no wound specialists and the pay is low. But still, they welcome us and watch us and we learn from each other. As one nurse said, “you bring us hope”. What a gift to carry and what a great privilege to carry it!
So…with our colleagues as guides and our own stamina and determination and passion for our profession, we walk in sand, every day bringing new challenges and new rewards…we get stronger and more skilled as we walk and we gather supporters and colleagues and encourage each other.

You would all be proud of your Canadian sand walkers…they persevere with grace and caring, marking their trek with smiles and tears; carrying hope. From the place of sand and breath taking beauty of the flood plain, I say goodbye for now and tune in soon for more stories of walking in sand.

Fay Karp

2 Responses to “Walking in Sand”

  1. UBC-O Nurses in Zambia

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. UBC-O Nurses in Zambia

    What a great blog post Fay. Thank you for being an amazing leader as I learn to walk in sand!

    – Rianne

Leave a comment