As a little girl my Papa bought me my first two biographies. One, on Martin Luther King Junior. The other on Florence Nightingale. Mama would encourage my baby-sister and I to carry our treasured books to the salon and on road trips. Consequently, to this date, I still carry at least one hardcover book in my bag most of the time and read while in the salon.
With her smaller hands my sister would thumb through her books on baby animals written in large font: Tiny Tiger At Home In The Jungle, Panda Baby At Home In The Bamboo Grove, Prairie Dog At Home On The Range and Bear Cub At Home In The Forest.
Repeatedly, I went through the lives of Martin Luther King Junior and Florence Nightingale. Like so many children, I became an outsider looking at Florence Nightingale growing up in her wealthy family. I blushed at her introduction to many suitors and [at the time] skimmed through her decision not to get married. I gasped at her devotion to the soldiers in the Crimean war. Small smiles tug at the corners of my lips as her thoroughness and cleanliness remind me of my Grandmothers and Mother.
Read some literature on the history of Nursing. Sit through a lecture on the Fundamentals of Nursing. You will soon realise that Florence Nightingale is an important figure in the history of modern day Nursing practice.
Now, this can easily turn to an article outlining the history of her life. However, I am not a very big fan of history. Therefore, I won’t subject you to an intense unveiling of the written details of the life of Florence Nightingale.
Nursing is a calling
“Nursing is a calling.”
A statement many people say.
In an interesting turn of events, at the age of 16 on 25th February 1837 she experienced a ‘call to service’ from God. Moreover, this calling went against everything her wealthy family believed.
You need to understand that the stereotype in the 1800s was that nursing was a disreputable profession. One with horrible pay. Fit for the drunken and potty-mouthed women of society. Even so, elegant, cultured, poised and learned Ms Nightingale obeyed.
With that said, I wonder: Is there a calling you are not obeying that is stopping you from changing history in your family, your community, your nation or the world?
Lady With A Lamp?
You may have heard the term “Lady with a lamp.” It all started during the Crimean War. Florence Nightingale would walk around checking on the wounded home-sick soldiers with a lamp in her hand. Imagine these weak men, with a small smile on their faces gathering just enough strength to kiss her shadow as she walked by. Sleeping with that same subtle smile on their faces
Grateful that someone cared
Someone bothered to come by
Someone went out of their way to help them feel better
In essence, that’s all in our job description. [Hopefully] Nurses reading this find it normal. However, you may not be a nurse. You may not even like hospitals. But you can go out of your way to care for someone. You can be bothered enough to not be satisfied with the cordial answer, “I’m okay” and ask “How are you really doing my friend?” You can take more time intentionally praying for someone else’s needs and not just your wants.
The Year Of …
This year is recognized world over as the Year of The Nurse and Midwife. The world has had a front-row seat in seeing how important we are. The pandemic pushed people to openly appreciating nurses [and all members of the medical team]. Medical personnel have been fighting for the lives of millions of malnourished children in the Middle East. Withal, the world has had a glimpse into the blood, sweat, tears and enormous amount of gloves and face-masks that go into hospital care. Now everyone [I pray] knows how to properly sneeze and cough, wash hands and use sanitizer. .
Moreover, may I add that, so far, this has been a year of sacrifice. Cleaners. Doctors. Pharmacists. Security Guards. Kitchen Staff. Nurses. Paramedics. Laboratory Technicians. In hospitals, they have risked their health so that our loved ones can be cared for. On another front, lives have been needlessly lost or scarred as the silent pandemic of sexual and gender-based violence has brought bruises and burns to some homes in this nation and abroad. Additionally, the injustices of racism and police brutality have led to the loss of innocent lives.
Journalists. Human Rights Activists. The common and not so common mwananchi (citizen). Social media influencers. Writers. Artists. Directors. Teachers. They have gone out of their way to commendably and consistently stand for the oppressed through varied media.
Nurses do not report to hospital to only care for nurses. We do not exist to care only for ourselves.
There are wars raging around us. There was a war and poverty around Florence Nightingale. Some as immediate as our family. Others, as distant as another country. Our world has changed since Florence Nightingale lived and died. But she left her mark. What will yours be?