Nurses from Saskatchewan
from Saskatchewan have practised all over the world. Some have decided
that working in places where there are many less fortunate is their calling. One
such nurse is Mary Pyne. Raised in small-town Saskatchewan, Mary travelled
far and wide with her nursing career spending time in Portugal, Angola and
Zaire, teaching nursing students in the African countries and learning much
about other cultures.
from Montreal to Lisbon in 1956. She stayed in Portugal for just over
a year to learn the language and arrived in Angola on New Year's Day, 1958.
Teaching in Angola was not all the work that Mary did in Angola. Refugees
would often knock at her door in search of medical assistance. Since
she could speak their language while workers in the emergency rooms could not,
she would go with them and translate so that they could receive the medical
assistance they needed.
some of the different diseases that she saw in Angola and Zaire that were different
from those one would see in Saskatchewan. She saw quite a bit of malaria
and a large number of parasites. She also remembers that because of the number
of snake-bite cases, the hospital usually carried snake venom, something not
generally found in Saskatchewan hospitals.
the hospital did not serve food, people who came in from the villages would
set up fires outside of the hospital and cook their own food. She does
remember the hospital in Angola as being quite well-equipped with modern machines
such as an electrocardiograph. Mary's job was to teach students to use
the equipment as well as teaching them to care for a patient with only a minimum
also travelled to the villages to practise some of her nursing there. She
loved the people in Africa and felt like a part of their communities and
families. In spite of the long work days, Mary looks back on her time overseas
with great fondness.
"In Angola I loved to
go and visit the villages, the people were very, very hospitable. But usually
we would go out to immunize and we would immunize probably five hundred
children in one days work. So we would go out at 7:00 o'clock in the morning
and we would be there until we finished those immunizations which would
be late in the evening. And so the people came very willing to be immunized
and after we were all, had completed the immunization in the last village,
the people would make us some food. And I can remember
seeing a very skinny chicken going by the school window where we were immunizing
and thinking, I am so hungry I could eat that chicken. But the people in
the villages, usually when we came there, they would begin to sing and they
would sing songs of welcome. Often the people were very poor. They were just
barely making a living from their fields, most of their livelihood was agriculture
but some of the villages, they even had sheep and they spun wool and that
was unusual. But all of this disappeared with the war, all this wonderful
life in the villages, disappeared with the war because people had to flee.
They had to flee to Lawanda, the capital and a lot of them lost their farms
and the life they had had before."
" The war began
in, well there was some conflict in '74 but around '76 the war erupted
and it kept on for nearly 30 years. At the same time, at the time the war
was going on in Angola, I was in Zaire and we were only 50 miles, no, we
were only 50 kilometers from the border of Angola and quite often we could
hear the Portuguese shelling the border villages at night. And then the
next day we would have people come in from land mine accidents or from
other, from shelling and so we had a big hospital there, we had a 400 bed
hospital in Zaire. In Angola the hospital was almost that large, was almost
400 and so sometimes I remember things about Angola that took, are, that
took place when I was in Zaire, so I sometimes mix up the two. "