Care, compassion, Impact

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, Featured, and People & Places.

The international volunteers’ week is a globally recognized day to celebrate everyone who renders their services or goods on a voluntary basis.

Volunteering comes in different forms and if the act benefits someone in need, it is what the world today needs.  Here is a story of a dedicated nurse serving in Zimbabwe’s health care system. Like they say, ‘nursing is a calling’ and it runs in the DNA of those called to serve. A fair lady dedicating her service to humankind offered to assist the elderly voluntarily in a country where most people would think every second must be rewarded materially. 

Happiness Tashaya is one dedicated nurse who decided to volunteer her day and brought an immediate change to the community. She had this to say for her day’s experience: ‘I grew up in Marondera and attained my basic formal education there. I always thought it good practice to help whenever one can and this time, I got the best opportunity to assist the elderly from my community in Chiota which became an early Christmas present. When some think of assisting, their thoughts are often of very big, farfetched ideas but it may be the little things that we do that matters as they impact others in a very powerful way. 

On this sunny Thursday morning, I woke up at my parents’ home in Chiota, Marondera district and began to do my usual house chores. My father who is one of the Older Persons (OPs) Champion under Island Hospice & Healthcare’s (Island) Supporting Older Persons Project  (SOPP), requested me to go and pick his and other older persons medications from the Island mobile roadside clinic conducted for the elderly around Chiota rural. Without thinking much about what the day would be like, I picked the black plastic container with several books belonging to the elderly in the village where we live and headed where the Island mobile team would meet with us. My father had to send me as he was not feeling well.

When the Island team arrived, I realized there were few people with a lot of medical check up books. I learnt that the team brought medications for chronic conditions such as Hypertension (BP), Diabetes mellitus (Chirwere cheShuga) and medications for pain among many others. Seeing how they became overwhelmed with patient consultations, I thought I could help thus, I approached one of the team members, Chenjerai Bhodheni ( Palliative Care Nurse) and asked if I could assist. I told him I was a qualified Registered Nurse who is currently practicing. Despite him being inquisitive to ascertain my professional credentials, I later joined and assisted with the work. It was such a long day afterwards as we had to travel from one point to the other where the few elderly referred to as champions representing their fellow elderly from their villages would meet with us and we supplied medications for their chronic conditions. On this day alone, I learnt that we served close to two hundred patients with medications for chronic conditions. It was such a busy day which was equally rewarding. To imagine that I had spent the day using my profession to benefit my community was a way of ploughing back into my community and this made me feel good. Although I had not initially planned to volunteer my day this way, I have no regrets for having joined this team for the roadside outreach clinic.

There are some lessons that I drew from this experience; a volunteering role is a fulfilling duty which left me counting my joy of giving back to my community. There is a lot of work that Island is doing in the communities to augment health delivery evidenced by the appreciation from the patients in the community. Despite that people appreciated obviously, the need is far bigger, and Island continues to face challenges satisfying everyone as they do not always have some of the essential palliative care medications.

About Island Hospice and Healthcare (Island)

Island is an organisation that offers palliative and other healthcare service focusing on chronic, incurable conditions and other conditions causing a lot of pain and distressing symptoms. With branches in Mutare, Marondera, Harare and Bulawayo, the organisation also offers psychosocial and bereavement counseling support services. In partnership with parent Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC), Island is a technical partner in the capacity building of health professionals on the palliative care concept which emphasizes a holistic approach to patient care.

Island has been working with Marondera district’s few selected sites since January 2018 to pilot how quality of life of older persons and their families could be improved. Realizing the COVID-19 impact on livelihoods and the inability of older persons to buy medications for chronic conditions, in 2021 Island embarked on a supportive activity that availed medications for older persons closer to their homes by visiting and supplying medications in their communities. This has been a welcome development in the community. The elderly have expressed challenges with accessing medications due to their depleted income and the distances they have to walk to the nearest health center. 

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