Throughout the world, May 12 is designated as International Nurses Day (IND), recognizing nurses' contribution to humanity.
The nurses that I've met are among the most caring, thoughtful, patient people I have ever met. The memory of them is etched on my heart by the care they have provided for my family. I won't ever forget them.
Nurses who care for children who are ill are on a higher plain. When a child, who has experienced hardship herself in the very early years of life, grows up to choose a life of service, it makes one take notice.
Eva, 19, has been attending boarding school in Nkokonjeru, Uganda through CARITAS' child sponsorship programs since 2007. Michael and Barbara have been her sponsor for all eight of those years. Over this time, they have corresponded through letters – Eva says she loves hearing from them. They have spoken to one another and seen each other's faces visiting via Skype through internet video. Michael and Barbara have watched Eva grow up and supported her every step of the way.
This year Eva completed secondary school, the equivalent of high school. In Uganda students must pass National Exams in order to move on to higher education. Eva passed with high scores, an indication of her hard work and the quality education she received at Stella Maris Boarding School in the care of the Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi.
"Since I was little I wanted to be a nurse," Eva says, "I wanted to serve God by taking care of the sick."
When Eva was very little her father passed away. The whereabouts of her mother are unknown. She was taken in by an aunt and uncle who have eight children of their own, all under the age of 18. Her future might look very different without the opportunity afforded to her by Michael and Barbara.
With Eva's Ugandan accent, her voice rises and stresses words uniquely when she speaks English in a way that is immediately endearing and interesting. When someone speaks your native tongue differently you pay closer attention to their words. She addresses Michael and Barbara as Dad and Mom. "I feel that I am part of their family," Eva says, "It makes me happy when I think of them ... knowing I had a family that could help me reach my dream that is with me for many years." Addressing her sponsor family directly thanking them for everything they've given her, she adds, "Thank you very much for your prayers. I've started receiving great things from God, just from, I think, your prayers."
Eva had to put in a lot of hard work and study too, to have reached this level of achievement. Sr. Carolyne, CARITAS' Uganda Program Coordinator says that although Eva's senior exam results placed her at the Division One level, "[This] is not a passport to nursing. The student, to qualify for a Nursing Course, must have passed well in the following subjects: English, Mathematics and all the Science subjects."
No wonder that one of Eva's favorite subjects is Chemistry. She likes to read in English, topics of all varieties in her leisure time, but there is not very much of that. Even when on break from school she spends a lot of time "digging" for her family, that is, weeding and hoeing, for food and income.
Not suprisingly, Eva has passed her interview and was accepted to the St. Francis Nursing Training School. "I was very excited when I went to the school and saw it. It is a large school, much bigger campus then Stella Maris. It was big, but not scary. I felt good when I first stepped on the grounds of the school."
Eva wants to focus on midwifery. The course is two and one-half years divided into five semesters. To Michael and Barbara she asks, "Pray for me to work hard and be able to succeed. Thank you for all your support. My family is so appreciative and happy to have you and always prays for you. I too always pray for you and may the Almighty God bless the work of your hands."
I can imagine looking into Eva's big brown eyes for counsel and comfort as I have looked into the eyes of nurses who have cared for me and my family. I expect that her big smile will give confidence and courage to her patients.
The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy.
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