Nurses of Ubuntu bring emotion to global healing

(Tyler Hehn) (Tyler Hehn)

Brett McGarry

Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Ubuntu is a term is the African language of Nguni Bantu that translates to “human kindness” but represents a philosophy of universal bonds between people from all walks of life. This philosophy is illustrated in photos at the Nurses of Ubuntu exhibit on display at Humber North Space gallery.
Nursing professors Sylwia Wojtalik and Janet Jeffery realised that creating a sense of global citizenship and engaging in civic duty is a necessity in the 21st century. Being impossible to learn about global citizenship in the classroom, students in the Humber Nursing program began clinical placements in Tanzania and Jamaica in 2009.
“We believed that it was our moral and social responsibility to engage our nursing students in cultural awakening and promote understanding of their civic responsibility,” said Sylwia Wojtalik
The Nursing program at Humber is known for teaching finely tuned technical skills but the international placement program allowed students to learn emotional skills not found in the classroom.
“I feel like I learned a lot about myself regarding self reflection and emotional intelligence. How do you care for a patient that also needs emotional support? How do you make that time? In my practice now, because of my trip to Jamaica I spend a lot of time with my patients and have learned the importance of emotional support,” said Nursing student alumni Denise Pinnock.
Students in these placements may have learned about the realities of practicing medicine in developing countries from Canada but little could prepare them for the actual experience.
“In Tanzania, students shuddered at the sheetless beds, pained faces and smell of ‘sickness’. Meaningful health teaching meant understanding the lived experiences of the people,” said Wojtalik.
Culture shock aside the impact the students made on the local community, and the local community on them, could only be described as profound.
“I remember vivid images of a Massai woman who could hardly breathe, yet had walked many miles to be seen in the clinic. Fortunately, it was close to the time that we were leaving from the village on the rough and muddy path to the town so we took her to the hospital where she was admitted and her life was saved by emergency care which would not have been possible without our intervention,” said Jeffery.
The photographs on display at the North Space gallery allow viewers to shift their lens of perspective about the nature of ‘self’ and ‘other’ through the heart warming stories of civic duty and self-discovery.
Nurses of Ubuntu is on display now until Nov. 6 with a reception being held at North Space on Oct. 26 at 5 p.m.

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