When I knew I’d be working for Save the Children on my PULSE assignment I had hoped that something I did during my 6 months might contribute in a small way to the care or support of some of the world’s most marginalised children. But with one of those ironic coincidences that life sometimes throws at you, my son became ill at the start of my first week and instead of thinking about other peoples’ children I found myself focussed almost entirely on my own. Not quite what I had anticipated!
Instead of energising with a great night’s sleep before Day 1 as planned, I spent the night doing bedside duties. Two days later I was in hospital handing over to the medics for professional care. In between, I was immersed in Save the Children’s Humanitarian Induction training. Coming from Pharma, and especially given the circumstances at the time, my brain was programmed to think of nothing but healthcare, but I learned how much broader is Save the Children’s remit.
Save the Children aims to help the most marginalised and deprived children worldwide to survive, learn and be protected, through long term development and humanitarian responses to emergencies. The Humanitarian department addresses not just health, but also shelter, child protection, nutrition, water and sanitation issues, and education in emergencies. One of the quotes we heard which has stuck with me came from a young girl in the DRC whose normal school life had been shattered: “Without school you have no choices in life, you are just trying to survive”. This started to bring home to me the scope of the impact conflict or disasters have on children.
My son is now back at school, charging around again, moaning about my rubbish cooking and generally proving that he’s fighting fit once more. But I leave week one thinking about those mothers who aren’t as lucky as I am; who don’t have ready access to excellent healthcare, and for whom every infection in their child is a VERY serious cause for concern. So I’m looking forward to week 2 when I can start learning more about the Emergency Health Unit where I’ll be working, and how, when and where they provide critical care for children in large-scale emergency situations.