Tina is Albanian. She met her Albanian Kosovar husband Ishmet during her nursing training in Albania and they moved back to his family home in Istog in northern Kosovo. It was a painful time for Tina. She left the family she loved, moved into a culture that was very different and discovered what it was like to be an "outsider."
Ishmet had worked for Mercy Corps before in our tuberculosis program. When we were looking for a translator in our health program he told Tina she should apply. Jane Ohuma, our Clinical Educator from Kenya, soon saw Tina's potential and she is now the Deputy Clinical Educator of our Health Program with responsibility for the development of the other local nursing staff of Mercy Corps, playing an important role in our planning.
We were all very excited when we heard that Tina was expecting a baby. We all joked that it would be great for clinical training purposes and Jane and I would be delivering the baby! One day in May we received a terrible phone call. Tina's mother and sister had been involved in a tragic accident in Albania. Her mother was dead and her sister was seriously injured and not expected to live. Tina's world fell apart. All she had talked about was seeing her new child in her mother's arms. We feared for Tina and the baby.
When Tina returned from the funeral, her sister's life was still at risk but Tina bravely continued on, not wanting to let us down. Fortunately, her sister has now recovered.
On July 30, we got the call from the local Health House. Tina was in labor and being cared for by the local midwife. Jane Ohuma, our midwife, went to provide support and Besa Vuthaj, the Deputy of the Health Program, joined them. As the labor progressed, complications arose. No doctor was available and Jane fortunately had the skill and experience to take over the delivery and safely deliver the baby. Early the next day little Mercyana came into the world, surrounded by Tina's surrogate family from Mercy Corps. I am sure her mother was there with her, experiencing the joy of new life, new beginnings and she continues to watch over them.
Tina's sense of being loved and supported by us, she says, has enabled her to gain a new vision for the future. She wants to be part of the development of nursing as a profession in Kosovo.
"I want to help nurses believe in themselves, feel pride in the great job they do and to contribute to the community with a sense of purpose and care rather than as a job," she says.
She says that she will fight for the education of nurses to make all this possible. She believes that only with education will health services improve for Kosovars.
Her experience and training with Mercy Corps put her clearly on the path towards achieving this goal. Mercy Corps is training nurses in community health and providing follow-up, on-the-job support and training for nurses across four municipalities in northern Kosovo. Tina tells the nurses she works with during this training that Mercy Corps believes in them and tells her own personal story of development through our program. She is now inspiring other nurses to share in her vision.