Yukon nurse knows no tomorrow

It is Saturday morning, and outside my bedroom the little yellow birds are chirping away from somewhere within the leaves of the avocado tree. The neighbours are busy preparing tea over their fire.

It is Saturday morning, and outside my bedroom the little yellow birds are chirping away from somewhere within the leaves of the avocado tree. The neighbours are busy preparing tea over their fire.

It is market day here in Dingila, which means the one day that the market is full of produce – mostly bananas, manioc and plantains.

The corpses of termites who have lost their wings in the night cover my mosquito net and bedroom floor. I have grown accustomed to life here, but next week, when I land back in Canada, little Dingila will seem years away.

Six months of my life have been spent here, and although I’m leaving, Dingila’s problems won’t disappear.

The MONUC, which is the UN’s mission in the Congo, is scheduled to pull out of Dingila next week. The team of about 50 Senegalese soldiers have been in Dingila for the last six months as a means to protect the population from the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The simple presence of the MONUC has acted as a deterrent from rebel attacks. Understandably, the population is filled with worry, especially considering the reports of attacks and kidnappings not far from us.

The MONUC will be replaced by the Congolese army, the FARDC – who are better known for their ability to rape, pillage and drink, than their ability to protect. While I am busy pondering all of the options and choices for my future, the options and choices for people here are over-ruled by one priority – to protect one’s family the best that one can.

One day Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) will leave here – not once the need is gone, but once the displaced people are settled and have lives equal to the locals of this village. The needs will not go away. The needs for access to basic human rights, for peace and for liberation from fear will continue.

The problems here are complex, multi-faceted and include a faulty and corrupt health-care system. MSF’s mandate does not include replacing the health-care system of a government. Instead, its volunteers advocate for the needs and rights of the population, and act as witnesses to share the stories of the people they work with.

I was saying goodbye to a nurse that I have worked closely with. She is one of the most committed nurses I have ever met. The day that we received suppositories, which treat severe malaria she broke into tears and cried, “And now we can really start to save lives.”

While I was busy reflecting on the future of this little village, I asked what she thinks tomorrow will bring. She said, “Here we don’t even know that tomorrow will come. If we are going to make change, we have to work with today.”

And so for the few days I have left here, I will work to change today – because it’s all we have.

Newport will share her experiences this Friday, during a fundraiser for the Fair Aid Society in Whitehorse.

The event will also feature an African dinner and silent auction. It’s being held at the CYO hall of

Sacred Heart Cathedral at 406 Steele Street.

Tickets are $30, available at the

Alpine Bakery and the Medicine Chest pharmacy.

Tricia Newport is a nurse who lives in Whitehorse. This is the sixth in a series of dispatches from Congo.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read