Sarahjane in Kenya: ‘My nursing career was never meant just for me’

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Sarahjane Bradford is an Emergency nurse in southwest Sydney. She grew up in foster care and knows what it means to experience childhood trauma. Last year she volunteered in Kenya and is heading back soon. She is seeking donations of feminine hygiene products, reading glasses, toothbrushes, toothpaste and craft supplies. To donate items, please contact her at sarahjanebradford@gmail.com Sarahjane has also set up a GoFundMe page for her efforts.

This is her story: Who knew that after six years of nursing, I’d be right where I want to be? This year will mark the second time I venture off to Africa to assist on a medical mission trip.

I always knew my nursing career was never meant just for me, that it would be utilised to assist and care for those at their most vulnerable. I grew up in foster care and remember being told I’d never amount to anything or would only be good as a checkout chick because of my childhood trauma. I am so very thankful for the people in my life who told me I could be more than I  imagined. Now I am the first in my family to finish university and recently completed my Masters in Nursing, specialising in Advanced Clinical Education.

Coming from a critical care background, Kenya is a whole other level. The health care is limited and the cost is corrupt. Doctors are always on strike, there are no ambulances or paramedics. And if you can earn a few dollars by being corrupt, then it seems almost plausible to some people.

The first week of May I’ll be heading to Kenya again to provide numerous medical camps across the counties of Homa Bay and Migori Kenya. Last year opened my eyes to the amazing health care system we have in Australia. My breath was taken away when I spent some time in a local Kenyan hospital. I cannot explain in words the horror and the tears when I saw the conditions and the treatment of patients. Now, keeping in mind our cultures and ideas are very different. No running water, buckets for showers and toileting. The bill to be paid before you leave and with minimal income, it is easy to see why patients never leave. You must have a carer and someone to feed you. It was sad to see children in hospital who I just wanted to hold and tell them they are loved. Oh and did I mention two to three fully grown adults to one single bed and no curtains to divide cubicles?

My life was meant for a reason and I do this completely and wholeheartedly as a volunteer. So with an Australian group of friends and an African organisation called Heaven on Earth, we provide treatment for free for over 1500 people. We provide treatment for malaria, typhoid, cholera and basic care, as well as education and training for patients and health care workers. This year I’m making kits for women’s hygiene and partnering with an organisation called Days for Girls, who provide reusable kits for girls in need of products for menstruation, incontinence and fistulas. I have set up a GoFundMe account in my name to fund these kits, pay for extra luggage and purchase necessities for children to receive education and training.

I’m excited to go back and thankful for the support people have provided me.

Most of all I’m thankful for my career and the opportunity to do life with those who are thankful for life even when in limitation.

I look forward to sharing my adventure with you when back in Australia.

Previously on Nurse Uncut:

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