Each nurse and midwife who joined the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has a different story, but they share a common passion: to care for those in need.
“I have a big heart that prompts me to engage in humanitarian work in all sectors, whether in times of peace, war, or natural disasters,” said Etidal Abdo Nasser Al-Qabati, a Yemeni nurse and midwife who has specialized in practical nursing and midwifery for three years and studied for four years to become a paramedic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” in honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. This year, according to WHO, the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
‘’I started to volunteer for humanitarian work, with the Yemeni Red Crescent, in 1973, and fell in love with nursing and helping others,’’ said Etidal, who is known as ‘Mama Etidal.’ “My biggest pain is knowing that we can conduct rescue missions but lack the necessary resources.”
Etidal started as a @YemenCrescent volunteer, now she is a professional nurse and midwife: “My long experience and big heart prompt me to humanitarian work.” She is the one who protects the dignity of mothers and women during the most difficult times. #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/5pnQXElVtf— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 6, 2020
Lebanese midwife Pascale Rizk, joined the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2017 and chose this profession ‘’because it is amongst the most noble professions in the world”.
‘’The relationship that the certified midwife builds with the couple is outstandingly beautiful. Indeed, she witnesses the couple’s greatest moment of joy. And the most sacred event of their lifetime, i.e. the arrival of their newborn.’’
According to Pascale, midwifery and nursing are misperceived by society. ‘’Honestly, when people used to ask me what I did for a living, I would answer by saying ‘a certified midwife,’ and the first response that I would get was: ‘Oh, so you’re a doula?’ People don’t realize that certified midwives are one of the pillars of the medical sector. ‘’
Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services and are often the first and only points of care in their communities. Nurses in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have long been at the frontlines, in war, natural disasters and in combating major diseases like Ebola, SARS, coronaviruses and lately COVID-19, often putting their lives at risk.
"The core of our work is saving other people's lives," says Pascale, a #midwife at @ICRC_lb.#Midwives reduce suffering and protect the dignity of mothers and women during the most difficult times: war, disasters and disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.#YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/DH7Gelr6FC
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 8, 2020
Nour Ismail, a registered nurse at St. George Hospital in Beirut, and a Lebanese Red Cross volunteer, said nursing is her passion. “I love helping people, in any way I can,’’ said Nour.
The blast at Beirut’s port in August underscored society’s need for health care professionals. In narrating her post-traumatic experience, after the Beirut explosion that took place on August 4th, Nour said: ‘’I have experienced the most overwhelming moment of my life. … The hardest part by far was having to witness what happened to my colleague.’’
Nour lost her friend and colleague, Mireille Germanos, who was working with her on that day.
Whether working in hospitals, clinics or in the field, these nurses experience the motions of life: joy, pain, and love.
Nour Ismail was at work at the hospital when the #Beirut #Explosion happened. The blast threw her to the next room, there was glass everywhere. Once she got back on her feet, she started to help her colleagues and patients. Thank you for what you do!#YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/g1lhp6IgV2
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 7, 2020
Muhsin Ghalib, an Iraqi Red Crescent nursing officer, has chosen the nursing profession because it is a vocation that helps preserve human rights. Ghalib narrates an unforgettable experience where he witnessed the death of a young man who was helping his father at the hospital. “I can never forget this experience, because the father was the one who was sick, but ended up staying alive. Whereas his son, who was perfectly healthy, passed away just like that.’’
Today, health care workers need #solidarity, not #stigma. Thank them and show them your support every day. By doing this, you help yourself and others to stay safe.
Think what would happen if we don’t have enough #nurses and #midwives#YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife @iraqircs pic.twitter.com/EDsgGKU364
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 5, 2020
Afra’a Ghannoum, a nurse at the Mobile Health Unit for Syrian Arab Red Crescent, SARC, chose the medical profession at a young age. ‘'I was living in a remote area deprived of any kind of health services. We used to face many difficult situations, where we wished someone could provide us with medical information, or basic first aid that could save a person’s life.”
عفراء من #الهلال_الأحمر العربي السوري: "اخترت مهنة التمريض في سن مبكرة جدًا. في مجتمعي، واجهنا العديد من المواقف الصعبة، حيث كنا نتمنى أن يزوّدنا أحد بالمعلومات الطبية التي يمكن أن تنقذ الأرواح."
والآن عفراء هي من تنقذ الأرواح.@SYRedCrescent #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/8296QnZEPc
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 3, 2020
It is pivotal to create and respect a humanitarian space in order to allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and health workers to care for people in need and alleviate human suffering among the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach communities.
Health workers who dedicate themselves to saving lives deserve society’s respect. They must not be prevented from reaching those in need.
Nurses and midwives have devoted their lives to saving and caring for others. In return, we should protect, respect, recognize and give thanks nurses, midwives and all health workers at all times.
Elias from @YemenCrescent was granted a #FlorenceNightingale medal – the highest award one can get in #HealthCareSector.#Midwives and #nurses are needed today more than ever before, and they must be appreciated by everyone. Thank you for what you do! #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/jUHiflcwj7
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 4, 2020