Monday, May 25, 2015

Red Cross Folk Hero

Swiss Civic Folk Hero

 Henry Dunant was a civic folk hero. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, this International Red Cross founder and organizer of the first YMCA and organized the Geneva Conventions of 1863 and 1864.  

He was born into a household that was civic-minded, religious and humanitarian. His father helped orphans and parolees and his mother worked with the sick and the poor.

Although he left college at the age of 21 because of poor grades, he went on to publish his very first book, Notice sur la Regence de Tunis. While it contained his travel observations, it also included a moving chapter on the topic of slavery in the United States and elsewhere.

Following the 19th century Battle of Solferino (1859) in which nearly forty-thousand casualties were reported in an effort to drive the Austrians out of Italy, he organized valuable emergency aid services for the wounded. From there he developed a plan that inspired voluntary relief societies in several countries to help alleviate suffering and prevent war.

In 1863, he was a member of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare’s committee appointed to evaluate the possibility of putting the plan into action. Due to its call for an international conference, the Red Cross has founded. On the 22th of August 1864, 12 nations signed the international treaty, known as Geneva Convention.

Dunant’s personal insight was transformed into an international treaty. The scope of the Red Cross has extended, covering naval personnel in wartime and alleviating the difficulties caused by the natural disasters in peacetime. 

However, in 1867, following bankruptcy due to bad management of North African water rights he was involved with, he turned his full attention on humanitarian pursuits, such as hospice. In 1895 he was awarded honors and prizes for his efforts and in 1901, nine years before he died, he became the first Swiss Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

He was buried in Zurich and per his will left funds for a "free bed" in the Heiden nursing home always to be available for a poor citizen of the region.

Read more about Dunant.  To learn about another folk hero who made a nursing difference, click here

Monday, May 18, 2015

Maori Tattoos

Facial Folk Art  

For the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, ta moko (facial tattoos) have long been considered folk art. 

Believed to have been brought from Polynesia this style of facial marking is considered sacred. The Maori believe their heads to be the most sacred part of their bodies and so the artwork applied to the head is, by association, sacred.

Facial tattoos comprised of spiral patterns and curved shapes that covered the entire face were a symbol of prestige, power, social status and rank. It is also a highly ritualized and revered rite of passage that us8ally begins during adolescence. 

Each tattoo is unique and detailed; intricately done to show off the artistry and craftsmanship of the Maori artist (tohunga) – man or woman - who is respected and often recognized as holy. 

History of Maori Tattoos

The historical explanation for the origin of Maori tattoo came from the underworld called Uetonga. Legends state that a young warrior named Mataora fell in love with the beautiful princess of underworld named Niwareka. The princess decided to came above ground just to marry Mataora. Unfortunately he mistreated the princess and she decided to go back to the underworld. 

Mataora felt guilty about his treatment of her and apologized to her parents. Niwareka’s father taught Mataora about the stunning art of ta moko which he brought to his people.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Florence Nightingale

Lady with the Lamp

Florence Nightingale is a medical folk heroine best known for her great work as a nurse during the Crimean War of 1854. She was also a legend for her valuable contributions to the improvement of the sanitary conditions in the military field hospitals. This folk heroine is called the Lady with the Lamp who made significant contributions in the field of medicine. 

Early Life

She was named after Florence, the city where she was born on May 12, 1820. Her early education was placed in the hands of the British government where her family moved when she was young. Her father – a student of Cambridge - took over that responsibility and it was noted that she had the natural ability for studying. Under his influence she became acquainted with the famous classics, Aristotle, Euclid, political matters and more.

At 24 years of age, when the Crimean War started (Turkey, France and Britain declared war on Russia) she was asked in a letter from the British Secretary for War and friend Sidney Herbert to be a nursing administrator to help improve care in the British military hospitals. 

When she arrived in Scutari, Turkey to work she learned that various diseases like typhus and cholera were rampant in the hospitals. Injured soldiers were seven times more likely to die from the disease in hospital than on the field. While there she organized a record keeping system and collected data that later would help improve military and city hospitals. 

Under her supervision the mortality rate dropped significantly. She used her own funds to buy vegetables, fruits and standard hospital equipment, including a supply of fresh water. She also spent long hours in the ward, giving personal care to the injured and wounded. 

This was when she earned the nickname, “Lady with the Lamp”.

More interesting facts about her:

  • She became bedridden because of an illness contracted in the Crimea.
  • She published 200 books, pamphlets and reports, including Notes on Nursing, used to teach nurses and translated into various languages.
  • Her efforts to formalize nursing education led to the establishment of the very first scientifically based nursing school that opened in 1860 – the Nightingale School of Nursing.

An International Nurses Day is observed yearly on May 12 to commemorate her birth as well as to celebrate the vital role of nurses in health care.

Happy Birthday Florence Nightingale!

About Noteson Nursing
To read about more courageous folk heroines click here .