Last year, the World Health Organisation announced that 2020 would be the International Year of the Nurse.
Often the unsung heroes of the medical field, they dedicate countless hours, mind, body and soul to the welfare of others, helping save lives, imparting reassuring words, and holding the hands of those who have no one else.
Under the instruction of doctors and at times on the receiving end of anger and frustration from their patients, nurses experience the full gamut of what life can offer, from new life to fighting for survival.
Greek Australian Helen Zahos is the epitome of all the qualities and skills that a nurse embodies. Born in Darwin and raised on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria, she began her career as a nurse, and then an emergency nurse in Darwin.
She has been on hand to provide emergency assistance for victims of the Bali bombings, the refugees on Christmas Island and Lesvos and has recently returned from a stint in Iraq. She has also received the HACCI (Hellenic Australian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) Excellence Award for community service and was nominated for a Pride of Australia Medal.
Zahos could not think of a better way to start the year than by volunteering in Kenya. She is currently 2 hours west of Kisumu in a village in Odede and relishing the new challenge, as well as being able to learn about a new culture.
“I am currently on the Nurses in Action program that is run by World Youth International, which is an Australian organisation,” she says.
World Youth International was founded by Robert Hoey in 1988 to encourage young people to be involved in the global community.
“Here we support and volunteer at Mama Ann’s Community health centre. While the rest of the world focuses on the coronavirus, we are busy helping women and children. We have held medical camps in remote local fishing villages where people find it difficult to access primary health care. We have tested many people for malaria and HIV and we have also held education sessions with the local nurses.”
There are 8 nurses of on the team and they live in the local village in Odede.
“For me, Nursing is about helping others, but also empowering patients through advocacy, giving them a voice when they otherwise wouldn’t have one,” she says. “It is about educating patients and also fellow nursing colleagues and inspiring younger people and encouraging them to also become nurses.”
An advocate for universal healthcare, human rights, and a qualified trainer, Zahos has also been invited to speak nationally and internationally as a keynote speaker, as a panelist at conferences, and a TEDx event.
Zahos hopes to raise awareness so other nurses in Australia, Canada or the UK will consider joining the Nurses in Action program.