Archive for August 2011
How did I get to the point where I’m eight days from flying to work in South Africa for three months? Nearly a year ago, in a fit of mid-life reflection I blogged on the Nursing Times site: ‘What are my career prospects as a nurse over 50?’
A reader commented: “Just a suggestion. There are millions of people in the world in need of your expertise. Why not do as I did twelve years ago and go to Africa and teach and work there with a NGO ?  The satisfaction of helping people who are really in need of your skills far outweighs any discomfort caused by heat, bugs etc. I go out to different countries three or four times a year to teach theatre nurses and it has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my nursing career.”
And that got me thinking, negotiating, applying and now I’m more or less ready to go. The bank is aware that my debit card may pop up in unfamiliar holes-in-walls; I’m vaccinated, insured; I’ve paid the soon-to-be missing installments in my pension, canceled my LibDem delivery round, handed the Eastbourne Borough FC stadium tour to a new volunteer, read all three books on the reading list plus Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’; I’ve opened a new email account for the trip, put my relevant documents into Dropbox and started this blog. I’m the owner of a quaintly old-fashioned-looking International Driving Permit and a sexy new laptop.
Global Medical Force has placed me with South Africa’s Foundation for Professional Development. I fly to Johannesburg next Friday, spend three nights in Pretoria for briefing, then fly internally to Port Elizabeth. There I’ll pick up a car and drive 254 km to Graaff-Reinet, my base for the next three months.
I’ll be working alongside and mentoring local NIM-ART (nurse initiation and management of patients on ART)- trained nurses. NIM-ART is South Africa’s response to the presence of five-and-a-half million people living with HIV and a prevalence rate of one-in-five adults aged 15-49 (UNAIDS 2009). The South African government’s aim is to scale up antiretroviral therapy by making it available, not just in large specialist centres but in primary care clinics throughout the country closer to the homes and communities of those requiring ART.
It’s exciting and daunting. I imagine the disorientation of starting a new job, multiplied by the different-ness of being in South Africa. I have much to share and plenty to learn.