Today I’m dedicating my writing to the phenomenal Malagasy people who I work with. I only hope I can do as much justice as possible when speaking of them because they are the spine of the work we do. The day crew. I talked about them just a few days before Christmas in my Ghost Stories post. I could rave about them for awhile.
They have taught me a lot about privilege. What it means to have privilege and what it means to be privileged enough to teach them.
I’ve been given the opportunity to conduct education days with them. Some of the ward nurses spend a week teaching them about why and how we care for our patients the way we do. We are allowed to teach them virtually anything we think they might want to know, but we tailored it to understanding how the body works, and understanding our interventions on the wards.
So far I’ve spent a total of two weeks helping with the education days. It’s been such a blessing in disguise. Somewhere in between wondering how much of our English they understand, learning Malagasy songs and dances, and trying to understand the differences between their culture and ours, I’ve picked up on a few things.
I am privileged. In lots of ways. My group learned two weeks ago that many of the day crew go to the doctor to exit their mothers’ womb… and that’s it. Some of the questions they ask regarding symptoms are the same questions I’d approach WebMD.com with. Then I’d self-diagnose, medicate myself with whichever OTC meds I kept handy (which is quite a variety), and make an appointment with my doctor if nothing changed in 3 weeks. As a nurse, I have so much understanding and knowledge at my fingertips, but better yet, I have all the equipment and resources at my workplace to carry out my skills.
But what a privilege it has been to teach them. I will forever feel so lucky to have gotten to meet them and interact them. I’m so lucky that they quietly pretend we are the teachers when they are the ones that have all of the experiences and stories on what it’s like to live in Madagascar. They humbly listen to how we do things in the West, and ask great questions, but sooner or later we realize that half of what we just said is irrelevant to anyone that can’t get to or afford a doctor.
I’ve worked with the day crew from every ward, but the day crew from my ward, B Ward, hold a special place in my heart. There is something extra special about them, and I can’t put my finger on it. Well, maybe it was the way they dressed in matching clothes, signed us all individual thank you cards, and taught us every dance they know. Among 1 million other things.