“S’ou blier pour soulager.” Forget yourself to heal others.
It’s a quote that members of our staff have attributed to Florence Nightingale, and while that ascription is hard to verify, the spirit of the quote is not. This concept of giving sacrificially, of self-forgetfulness in the service of our patients, is certainly in line with the standards developed by Nightingale and those follow in line with the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I first heard the quote while observing Mis Sabine take care of a prenatal patient. This very expectant mama had eased her way up onto the exam table. Before she could lift her feet, Mis Sabine was bending over, removing tightly strapped sandals from feet swollen with the weight of a baby. After the routine examination, Mis Sabine went to the end of the table, showing her patient how to stretch her feet and pump her calves in order to help with the routine swelling. Then she helped her patient roll over and sit up, and without hesitation, bent to fasten the shoes back on the tired feet. It was at that moment Mis Sabine looked at me and shared this quote, “Forget yourself in order to heal. Florence Nightingale said it. It’s what we do as nurses. We have to do everything in our power to bring comfort to our patients.”
Every week, I witness our staff embodying this principle. Once it was during a staff meeting. We were discussing our recent disaster preparedness training, which included CPR. Giving CPR in Haiti can be a scary prospect. Community members might misunderstand and accuse the one giving aid of hurting or killing the patient, rather than recognizing the attempt to help. As we talked, our lab technician Jonas nudged his assistant Annie to share. Between the two of them, they told how Annie had come across someone who needed CPR. Knowing the risk she was taking, Annie chose to help. Her ministrations were successful, and she was able to save that person’s life.
Our Medical Director Oscar is well known in Jubilee. More nights than not, his door is pounded on, as a neighbor brings a child or a mother or a friend who need stitches, or an IV, or medication for a high fever. He sacrifices sleep and time with his family to offer care every time. Magdala cares for a girl who has no home. She suffers from mental illness and won’t stay in one place, but Magdala brings her into clinic, and then seeks her out on the street in order to take care of her when she is sick. Jonas tests our patients for HIV and Syphillis. When a test is positive, he refers them to a local hospital for government sponsored treatment. But, knowing how easy it is for them to be lost in the shuffle, he uses his own time and vehicle to drive them to the hospital and personally oversees their entry into the treatment program. Practicing self-forgetfulness in order to care for our patients.
These stories could go on and on. The beauty of the hearts of our staff is truly stunning, and the change they are making in Jubilee and Gonaives as a whole is apparent. It is this kind of heart, this desire to serve that transforms communities, and opens the doors to sharing God’s love with our neighbors.
-Abigail Rucker, Administrative Director