Nursing students from Haiti: Barbara Fumelus (left) and Nicole Mathurin
In Haiti, nursing students face daily challenges obtaining food, transportation and covering other costs to complete their education. Two survivors of last year's earthquake were in Hamilton recently to share their experiences and suggestions for what may be the most effective ways to support the education and successes of their fellow students at home.
The McMaster University School of Nursing (SON) partnered with the Canadian Nursing Students Association (CNSA) and Hamilton Nurses for Haiti (HNH) to bring Barbara Fumelus and Nicole Mathurin to Hamilton on Jan. 26. The students' visit builds on the relationships formed through the McMaster-Haiti women's health project taken on by the McMaster schools of nursing, medicine and midwifery program a few years ago, and a visit to Haiti last fall by Anita Fisher, an associate professor of the nursing school.
"Nursing in Haiti has been devastated by the earthquake and the need for support is apparent at every level,' said Fisher. "Barbara and Nicole's stories and experiences are truly inspirational. It was a very rich week of learning for these young nursing students and those working closest with them.'
Fumelus and Mathurin presented at the CNSA's National Conference and again at a farewell celebration held in their honour, discussing their hopes and aspirations to make a difference as nurses, and the many challenges they have faced since nearly the entire class of second-year nursing students at the National School of Nursing in Port-au-Prince, Haiti was killed in the earthquake. Fumelus was one of only about 25 survivors.
While in Hamilton, Fumelus and Mathurin visited with the SON and spent time learning more about nursing education here, international information technologies to support nursing connections, and going to community placements to learn more about community and rural health care in Canada.
"When we return to Haiti, we would like to create a committee to share what we learned in Canada and create change in our health care system,' said Fumelus, adding that it will be difficult as nursing is not a government priority in their country. "Our goal is to improve the quality of our nursing care for our patients.'
Before returning to Haiti on Feb. 8, Catherine Tompkins, associate dean of the School of Nursing, presented Fumelus and Mathurin with two new laptop computers and some nursing textbooks for them to share with their classmates. The laptops are equipped with digital nursing resources in their native Creole. The software was donated by the Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing.
While acknowledging there are ongoing issues with electrical power at the nursing school in Haiti as well as student access to the Internet, Tompkins remarked: "This is a small step toward the goals of enabling students' ongoing access to learning resources as well as supporting continued communication with McMaster's School of Nursing students and faculty, Hamilton Nurses for Haiti and the school of nursing in Port-au-Prince.'