Monday, November 17, 2008

Good-bye Shelley

As we celebrate the 6 month mark of us being in Namibia, we also are sad to see the end of our dear friend Shelley’s time here.

Shelley arrived in Namibia from Australia the same day as us. We did our Orientation together and have spent a considerable amount of time together here in Rundu. Shelley worked in Rundu hospital as a nurse on the paediatric ward. She worked alongside us in the OVC project three afternoons a week. We went through culture shock together, experienced similar difficulties in the hospital and at the project and encouraged each other in the face of the regular challenges of being a foreigner in a new place.

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to watch Shelley grow in her time here. When she arrived she was a brand new nursing graduate and lacked confidence in her skills and struggled to find her feet in a very different hospital culture. She worked hard to learn some local language and managed to do assessments in Rukwangali, but most impressively she managed to maintain a good attitude in spite of the shockingly poor work environment.

As she worked on the paediatric ward, one of her biggest struggles was dealing with apathetic nurses that would sit by and watch a child die without attempting the necessary emergency steps to possibly prevent it. Over time she was able to encourage the nurses to do basic resuscitations and was an excellent example of taking action before it was too late to save a child’s life. I’m not sure I would have had the strength to see what she saw, and am thankful that God called me to rehabilitation! Shelley eventually began to enjoy work in the ward and developed fantastic relationships with the kids through games, cuddling, and compassion. The mothers also loved her company, and I have no doubt were thankful for her individualized care.

The loss of Shelley at the OVC project means much more to Daryl and I, as her help was invaluable. The younger kids in particular would come rushing to Shelley once we arrived at project wanting a hug and a hand to hold. She definitely found her niche there, constantly bandaging little wounds, holding skipping ropes, throwing a ball around, and most importantly "tickle ministry"! Her help with organizing Home Based Care and some of the administrative work for the project will also be missed.

Shelley was a great example of one of the main goals of Africa Inland Mission in Namibia: to show God’s love and compassion to orphans, vulnerable and disabled children and their caregivers by ministering to their physical, spiritual and educational needs and seeking to empower them.

We miss her already.

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