Never judge, always love, rise to every challenge and be grateful for everything

“Never judge, always love, rise to every challenge and be grateful for everything. These are the earliest lessons I learnt from my mother. As a child, I never wanted to do anything else besides nursing and I still maintain that it’s the best job in the world. I used to work in the South Infirmary in Cork and I loved it but now I work overseas with Medecins Sans Frontieres and I love this too.

I spent the bones of the past year with the Huli tribe in a remote and inaccessible part of Papua New Guinea, a country that is home to hundreds of distinct tribes, many of which have only recently been in contact with the outside world.

I leave for Afghanistan in a few days but I am actually sitting here thinking back to the last week I spent in Papua New Guinea. It was a dramatic week. An accusation of sorcery sparked violence in the local community. The man at the centre of the allegation was attacked and seriously injured by a group of men yielding machetes. The police brought him to the hospital and we rushed him straight to the theatre. When he survived the surgery, the community understood this as a sure sign that he was a witch. He was now a dead man walking and we had to place him in a secure room. I contacted an agency that has a mandate to relocate people in Papua New Guinea who have been accused of sorcery and a plan was put in place to get him out. He had to leave everything behind; his crops, his family, his tribe, his life. He was a kind and gentle man. When we were saying farewell, he asked me if I would someday share his story.”

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