"I am a nurse because...": Baraka's story

By Hannah Bergbower
May 28, 2015

Through interviews, Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP) Nursing Volunteer Hannah Bergbower highlights her extraordinary nursing students, the stories that motivate them and their insights into the future of nursing in Tanzania.

When we think of children, we often think of innocence, joy and the promise of the future ahead. As health care providers, however, we are often faced with a different story. Sick children bring sorrow to our hearts and trouble to our souls, but often instill in us an even more resolute commitment to doing all we can to restore their health. For Baraka, one of my nursing students, he has made it his life’s mission to improve children’s health.

Having grown up in a rural village with limited resources, Baraka is unfortunately familiar with the consequences of limited access to health care. He explains that "most children living here, especially in the village, are susceptible to so many diseases due to their low immunity. They suffer from unnecessary illnesses like malnutrition because we don’t have enough food or they die from a diarrheal illness because they don’t have anyone to care for them and provide them the support they need while they’re sick." It was his experiences as a youth coupled with his desire to work directly with people in which he could make a lasting impact on people’s lives, especially children’s, that led him to pediatric nursing. His conviction is clear: "It hurts me to watch [children in pain]," he says, "but I know that I can do something about it and that is why I want to care for them."

Like some of my other students, Baraka sees nurses playing a critical role as educators to improve the health of their communities. He explains that nurses "have the power as nurses to teach people and to change their false beliefs and views about their health to real information that allows them to care for themselves better. This is nurses acting as leaders because providing this education could improve all aspects of… [a person’s] life."

Reaffirming the importance of education as a right, he emphasized the significance of mothers having the opportunity to learn how best to care for their children. He explained, "I want to educate… mothers about things like nutrition status… hygiene and creating as conducive an environment as possible for raising their children. Everyone deserves to know how."

This student is an example of the future of health care in Tanzania. It takes people like Baraka who are inspired and driven, who truly believe they have the power to change their country for the better and have a strong commitment to caring for others.

Baraka said, "I am a nurse because I feel a child is supposed to have a long life and big future ahead of them, but here that is not always true. I want to help the people who really need us, especially in the rural areas. Health education is low in Tanzania and health care providers are scarce, but I am a nurse because I know that I have the power to do something positive to impact it all."

This post first appeared on Seed Global Health's blog

Hannah Bergbower

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