This month we're looking back at some heartfelt words written by our very own volunteer nurse, Micah Stone. When Steph headed to Canada long ago for her first Helping Babies Survive training, and had but a glimmer in her eye of what Nurses En Route might become, Micah was there! She's a fierce supporter of our vision and mission, she's hilarious, she challenges people to be and do their best, and her enthusiasm for a job well done in all things is admirable. Her students in Mozambique LOVED her.
"Home. I yearned for it before I ever left for Africa. I was scared to go. Scared of what the Motherland would teach me. Show me. Expose me to the vulnerability of disease, poverty, and most of all scared for the ultimate test of my emotions. Now I’m home after 10 days in Africa. The burning question everyone keeps asking me is, “Would you go back?” Even within my team, we were asking each other the same question. Most people were quick to answer with yes. Others said yes but their curiosity wanted to explore other places. And here I was along the fence, teetering unable to form an answer.
Home. Time doesn’t stand still in America. I returned on Halloween with moments before my children changed into their costumes for trick or treating. My husband made me a warm tea to tame the bitter 70 degree F temperature drop from what my body was used to in Africa. I craved normalcy, safety, and fresh fruits and vegetables. And that’s what I got, but something was missing.
My mind strayed and I couldn’t help but think of the faces of the patients waiting along the footsteps of Marrere Hospital. Their souls being tested by disease, thirst, and hunger. Or the faces of the children along the roadside with little to no energy. Where were their protectors? Stories of worse conditions at Hospital Central, or Gates of Hell (thanks Dr. Ron), where no one was on alert of a limp 34 weeker with the beginning signs of a pulmonary hemorrhage.
My mind strayed to the conversations we had with professors and other involved parties in the health community. That many locals didn’t believe that health is persuaded by their actions. Spirits, good and bad, determine their fate.
My mind strayed to how the stench of urine and burning trash hurt my nose. The smoke, heat, and dust provoked extra blinking to protect my eyes.
And then, all of those thoughts that plagued my mind turned to what I felt. I felt sadness for a country that has a history of slavery, and worth being torn from the people and the land. That education is not always an option when Maslow’s Hierarchy requires basic nourishment prior to achieving other levels.
I felt the love that professors, nurses, physicians, and other educated professionals have for this country. They are inspired and passionate to make a change for the better. Their challenges are similar to those of America; Corrupt government, lack of resources, lack of education, lack of funding. But tack on additional challenges such as dirty water, no transportation, labile electricity. Our innate core whispers to us to survive.
So I will survive in America. Observing the bustling chaos around me. Being thankful for the conditions white privilege has given me, being born in America, an educated woman with a career, a mother of two healthy beautiful children, a wife who is respected and loved by her husband, supportive friends and family, and the endless opportunities I have available to me.
The question remains. Would I go back? I think about the sacrifices I’ve made to protect my patients here in America. When I was confronted with moral and ethical dilemmas and in what felt like an instant I had to turn around and protect myself and my moral and ethical codes. Knowledge is power. Is it fair to retain that knowledge to myself? I have privilege on my side. So if the opportunity presented itself to return to Mozambique to share my knowledge and protect those that deserve it the most, then absolutely, I would go back."