Reflection on supporting nursing in Gondar

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Gondar MSc in Advanced Clinical Nursing Students receving practical training

Having left cold wet Aberdeen, Scotland 48 hours earlier I was very excited to arrive in sunny Gondar jet lagged, but looking forward to what I knew was going to be an enriching  experience. I was fortunate to be chosen to support the 18 Nurses undertaking the newly created Masters of Advanced Clinical Nursing course and the tutors involved in the programme. As I look back and reflect on the past 3½ months I can say that despite considerable challenges the experience has been hugely  rewarding from both a personal and professional point of view.

"I have seen poverty and hardship but also much caring at first hand, I am impressed with the ongoing efforts to improve the situation"

In line with the sunny disposition of most Ethiopian people I have met, the first group of 18 MSc students extended a very warm welcome. They are enthusiastic, motivated, and committed to bringing about improvement to the quality of the nursing care provided in Gondar University Hospital.

My first impressions as I toured the hospital and witnessed the extreme lack of resource in almost every area brought home to me the magnitude of the task and certainly forced me to reflect on how fortunate we are to have our National Health Service in the UK. However, having spent some weeks supporting the students in clinical placement, where I have seen poverty and hardship but also much caring at first hand, I am impressed with the ongoing efforts to improve the situation. I am certain that once qualified the students will go on to make a sustainable difference.

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Gelada Baboon indigenous to the Simeon Mountains near Gondar

During my time here I have also been fortunate enough to visit some of the most important UNESCO World Heritage sites - Ethiopia has the largest number in Africa. Given that Gondar, well known for its beautiful castles, is situated at the foothills of the stunning Simien Mountains a trek through those mountains was absolutely mandatory. I spent 3 days there, encountered Gelada baboons, and attended a coffee ceremony in the rural home of one of our guides.

Trips to historic Lalibela to visit the incredible rock-hewn churches, and Axum, believed to be the home of the Ark of the Covenant, were unforgettable experiences which anyone visiting Ethiopia should not miss. In short being in Ethiopia is literally an assault on the senses-the wonderful smell of Ethiopian coffee, the stunning mountain scenery, ancient and extraordinary historical sights, rich and diverse culture -I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity to experience it all.

written by Alexandra (Sandra) Aldridge, UK tutor, MSc in Advanced Clinical Nursing

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