Did we make a difference in Zambia or did Zambia make a difference in us?

In the summer of 2009, 16 nurses, all employed by Rosewood Care Centers traveled to Zambia to partner with Hands at Work on a medical mission in Kabwe.  Most of the nurses had not traveled outside the United States and took on this challenge by faith and with a bit of apprehension.  Once we arrived in Kabwe and met up with the Hands at Work Service Center workers we knew we were in good hands and that God had surely led us to this place for a purpose.

Each morning the nurses visited different schools and provided deworming medication along with age based HIV/AIDS education, bible stories, and instructions for dental hygiene.  Children received a toothbrush and toothpaste along with small toys, crayons, and various school supplies.  Badly needed blackboards were brought to the schools which delighted the teachers.  At the end of the week, the nurses hosted a teacher’s training session and luncheon. We provided some American dishes for the teachers to sample.  The nurse’s objective was to tell the teachers “Thank you” for their hard work and each teacher received a gift bag at the close of the day.  Additionally each school was presented with large first aid kits along with instructions on how to administer first aid for various types of injuries.

Making visits with the Home Based Care Volunteers was an amazing experience for the nurses.  We relied on our nursing skills to provide care without the benefit of medical equipment or diagnostic tools.  Most importantly we learned how offering encouragement through prayer, singing, or bible verses could make a huge difference in the lives of those who were very ill.  Nurses for Africa was pleased to supply several Home Based Care Organizations in Kabwe with a large box of essential medications and presented volunteers with small packages containing helpful items including hand sanitizer. 

The nurses held health clinics at both the village of Malikota and Susu.  Within a few hours, the nurses took care of over 100 people at each clinic.  By assessing and examining those who came seeking medical care, the nurses were able to determine what medication was needed and provide it.  What amazed us was that so many of the people had very simple medical problems that could easily be diagnosed and treated but they had not been able to treat the problem because there was no access to medical care in the village and no transportation to go to a clinic.

Too quickly the week came to an end.  As we worshiped on our last Sunday in Kabwe, we all thanked God for the incredible opportunity we had been given to come to Zambia.  We had made some wonderful new friends and we felt we had made some positive contributions to the community.  We all secretly prayed that we would be able to return some day. This trip had made a significant impact on each of the nurses who participated.  We all went home feeling enormously thankful for our daily blessings and consumed with a passion to continue our mission in Zambia.

God has answered our prayers!  This September, Nurses for Africa will return to Zambia, to once again minister to the villages of  Malikota and Susu.  There will be new members on the team but several nurses from the 2009 mission will be participating again.  Our desire is that Nurses for Africa will grow and more nurses will be able to experience God’s love by serving the people of Zambia.

Visit the Nurses for Africa website and view our new documentary that chronicles our journey to Zambia and offers opportunities for nurses and other health care professionals to join Nurses for Africa on future missions.

Theresa Poole