It was for a Diploma in Tropical Nursing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (yes.yes. the same school referenced in the last Call the Midwife episode…no big deal… hehe)
That season in England was one I will treasure for many years. I was studying alongside some of the most dynamic and courageous people from all over the world. They had worked in various parts of the developing world and had stories I could listen to for hours. The course was inspiring and challenging in many ways. Shoot, the head of the program became a Dame during our semester there! You can read about her life HERE
I attended the program with a best friend who is more like a sister. We lived in the attic of a farmhouse in a small little district (is that what you would call it?) called Burnham on Crouch. We lived with a fabulous family who kept us entertained all day long with their sarcasm, imitations of us, and pranks. Seriously, they pranked people and each other all the time. I think I lived with a permagrin on my face;)
To top it all off, THIS was our backyard/playground.
|i do believe those flowers were singing at the setting of the sun…and Amanda, I think you took this picture. as a gift for your mom maybe? am I right?|
So, aside from all the frivolous play and glory of our season in India, there was the academia. Our Diploma was granted according to our performance on three different components. There was the multiple choice final exam, a final lab exam, and a paper. The paper could be any Global Health issue chosen by the individual as long as it was approved by the staff and you needed to include something known as “Millennium Development Goals” and how they were being targeted towards this Global Health Issue.
Best friend, Amanda, chose Trachoma, which is a bacterial infection that is a major cause of blindness in areas around the world. She specifically focused on regions of Africa. It was captivating to hear her research, heartbreaking to see photographs and hear the numbers of lives affected, and there was a glimmer of hope in the work that organizations like WHO are doing to help eliminate it.
Logically speaking, I would have chosen an issue in Obstetrics. I had worked in L&D as a nurse, had dreams of being a midwife, and was set on serving in India long term due to being slain by stories and statistics and research of the crisis of maternal/infant mortality across regions of India and the plight of the girl child.
However, I was also stricken with fond affection towards a Psychiatrist working in rural NE India;) wink;) And though my Mental Health Nursing Professor, Dr Cormier, would probably NEVER have imagined me to marry someone in the field of mental health (due to my clear inability to succeed in her class)…I was quite fond of this valiant doctor and his heart for those with mental illness in India. And I was willing to study anything if it meant more impressive conversation to provide him via our skype dates;) haha.
So I chose the following topic for my lengthy research paper…
and thus spent a solid 2 months melancholy and feeling defeated with each hour spent in the library and looking thru articles.
|a mama who has sacrificed much for her little boy…grateful to know her and to have witnessed some of her life in a Delhi leper colony|
I saw my topic choice as an attempt to have more conversation potential with that indian doctor in rural NE India…instead my heart broke doubly for the women of India.
Not only was I aware of the incredible burden life can be for them and how dangerous childbirth and motherhood could be, from a medical perspective, but now I had the added understanding of Mental Illness and how it plagued millions.
The stories I read, the videos I watched, and the rates that seemed to only increase…nearly undid me.
I could go into statistics and numbers and rates of depression and suicide and how they are only expected to increase…to the point that by 2020, WHO predicts that Depression will be the 2nd Global Burden of Disease internationally.
Basically meaning, with the rates of depression and suicide currently being measured in our world…and the way they are increasing, we will see a drastic increase in cause of death being rooted from Mental Heath issues.
Some of the major global health issues now will pale in comparison, if change is not made.
Why do I write all of this?
Because I am amazed at the work my husband, Raja, and countless others are doing in order to work towards this growing issue.
And this weekend marks a HUGE event and accomplishment.
Raja and a group of individuals across India, and the world, have been working to combine the compassion and outreach of the church with the drastic need for mental health awareness.
There is a history of incredible injustice at the hands of the church towards those battling mental illness.
And Scriptures speak to anything but injustice towards this population.
Our God came to loose the bonds of wickedness and to undo the heavy burdens.
He came to let the oppressed go free.
And there is no definition as to what makes someone oppressed and burden.
To one, it may be a battle with HIV.
To another, tuberculosis.
There may be leprosy, malaria, abuse, slavery, or a list of other forms of suffering that should be vanquished.
And just as HIV and malaria can kill, so can depression.
And it is time for us to wake up and see the ache.
It is time for you and me to not be blind to the cancer that may not be visible on the outside, but that is eating away millions on the inside.
The stigma should be stopped.
And compassionate care and mercy given endlessly.
And this weekend is going to be an amazing time for hundreds to gather in India with that mutual burden.
And I am so thankful to be able to write about it and intercede for it.
Will you join us in prayer?
And if you are in the Dehradun area…you are surely welcome to attend;)
It is taking place thru Saturday afternoon at New Theological College.
Many difficult, controversial, yet needed conversations are happening and it is going to be good.
CBN India is covering the weekend, so I hope to share some snippets later.