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Global Health Nurse Blogs through War Torn Africa


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Posted: 8/19/2009

While working in Africa this summer, Nancy Glass, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, a Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing associate professor and Paul G. Rogers Society Global Health Research Ambassador, has created a unique researcher’s travelogue blog about her sometimes harrowing but frequently rewarding experiences.  As she conducts research and works with health care teams in African refugee camps, prisons, villages, and a University, she shares the sights and sounds and the sadness and joys of life in this politically complex region. 

Glass, who has made numerous trips to Africa recently to explore the impact of warfare on the women of strife-torn Central Africa, is focusing her research on the context of rape from multiple perspectives, including those of victims, families, and perpetrators.  In a July 25th entry from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she writes:

“We have interviewed rape survivors who have been exiled and reintegrated, husbands who exiled and reintegrated wives after rape, as well as community leaders, doctors, priests, community health workers, lawyers, police, and rapists.  In DR Congo, as in all the world, rape brings great shame to [the] woman and family the Interhamwe (Hutu Rebels who perpetrated the genocide in Rwanda) continue their genocide targeting Congolese women the rebels have destabilized families and communities.”

As she has travels through Rwanda, the Congo, and Uganda, Glass recounts a variety of experiences ranging from an encounter with a drunk and belligerent street orphan, to a failed attempt to interview boy soldiers in Goma, and through a glorious trek with gorillas in the hills of eastern Congo. 

Glass also has revisited microfinance stabilization programs she helped implement on previous trips, including a “Pigs for Peace” project in the villages surrounding Bukavu in the Congo.   On this trip, she met with 25 women, all now serving as heads of their households, who through the project have been loaned a pig and provided a pen, veterinary support, mating opportunities for the animal, and education about pig farming.  On July 21st, Glass blogged: 

“All the stories were impressive but some will stay with me forever.  Up a very steep hill, I met a 70-year old widow who used her money from selling piglets from her pig to build a house for herself and grandchildren.”

Glass recently left the Congo and currently is in Uganda where she is working with other Johns Hopkins colleagues to enhance health care capacity and establish nursing education at Makerere University.  On departing the Congo she noted, “The month went by too fast. The work has been difficult, but my Congolese colleagues inspire me with their work and vision of peace.”