The opportunity to create an organization that enables nurses to use their nursing skills and compassionate hearts to provide medical care in Africa has been a dream come true for me. When I was a little girl I wished I could become a missionary in Africa. Then as a teenager, I wanted to work with the Peace Corp in Africa. But my life took a different route and instead I became a nurse, working with geriatric patients in long term care facilities. It wasn’t until my husband and I took a vacation in South Africa a few years ago, that I realized that the desire to help the people of Africa was still embedded deep in my heart.
During our subsequent vacations to South Africa, we were able to provide small scale humanitarian relief to a community in the Limpopo Province where we visited twice. My flame was lit– I wanted to do more but really had no idea how I could.
But God often opens a door where we only see a wall and that is exactly what happened! Unexpectedly, I was asked if I would assemble and lead a small group of nurses on a medical mission to Zambia and I jumped at the opportunity. And as they say; the rest is history!
Little did I imagine back in October 2008, when the idea of a medical mission was conceived, what an amazing journey was ahead of me. Each year, each team, each mission has been special and we have grown so much both in numbers and also in the ways we can better serve the people of Zambia.
As much as I am overjoyed at the success of our missions, I am equally thrilled to see the way these trips change the lives of the nurses who join us. “Life changing” is not just a cliché…it really does happen. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some very special nurses whose hearts are huge and who share my passion for the people of Zambia. The friends that I have made in Zambia also mean the world to me. My life is so much richer because of the experiences I have had through Nurses for Africa.
I am grateful to my husband who took me on that first South African vacation which opened my eyes and heart (again) to the needs of the African people. I am forever indebted to Rosewood Care Centers and Larry Vander Maten who initiated the first mission. I am thankful for Ten Talents Foundation and the financial and clerical support they give Nurses for Africa. I am so appreciative of our partner, Hands at Work, who take care of planning the details like meals, lodging, and ground transportation. I am tremendously grateful for every nurse who has volunteered for a mission, including the hardworking team leaders, especially Gail Kimmle, my assistant director. Without her, I could not manage the hundreds of tasks that are necessary to execute each mission.
More than anything, I thank God for the opportunity to do this work that is so fulfilling and I pray that everything Nurses for Africa endeavors to do is always done in the spirit of compassion and selflessness.
Theresa Poole RN Founder/Director
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25: 37-40 (New International Version)