Have you ever imagined how it would feel to lose your voice totally and depend on others to be your voice? I want to share a true story that taught me that silence can be golden but also can disempower people. My mother was this proud articulated lady who carried herself with grace and very intelligent. I had the honour to be raised by this amazing woman and leant a lot from her. One fateful day, she had a stroke which left her without a voice and paralysed. I watched my mother loose her identity because she could not advocate for herself, could not do the simple things that we take for granted and above all, I listened to the world talk about her in her presence as if she did not exist. I watched people reorganise her house, her belongings without talking to her and I used to say,” I wander what she would have said to that?” This amazing lady faded in front of my eyes and my heart bled because I knew who she was, how proud of her family she had been, how proud of her clean house she had been but now we dictated how, where and when things would be done.

I have been privileged to become a nurse and a carer after that experience and I listen to us ask questions like, “Do they realise that we are sacrificing our time and lives for them, why are they not grateful? How come they do not appreciate what we do?” Wow, if only we could put one foot into their world and ask who they once were, what they did and above all, why we chose to venture into the world of caring for them. Take a moment and just imagine what you would do and expect if you find yourself in such a situation and you are powerless and at the mercy of others? My mother initially could not fathom the thought of her daughter touching her in the name of care, what more a stranger that is doing the same because they have a job as a carer and hence have the right to touch her and strip her of any dignity unintentionally or intentionally. How violated she must have felt and yet she had no choice but to resign to what she must have thought was unacceptable in any other circumstance.

I have the opportunity to train and work with a lot of awesome carers within this rewarding field, but I have come to understand that our knowledge and actions though noble and done with the best of intentions, can be misdirected if we don’t reflect on who these people were before us and our so called excellent interventions. IN a lot of ways, you are appreciated, you are valued and evensilently loved but words fail these special people because they lost all reason and will to live as they feel subjected to the worst and lowest version of being mothers, fathers, grandparents and once someone ‘s proud child. As we approach these wonderful people and care for them, try and visualise who they were once, how they might be feeling as we put hands on them, as we talk about them in their presence, as we forget who they might have been and take away the one thing that they value most- “DIGNITY”.

Let them speak in that silence by us being sensitive and let us listen to the silence that says, I am human, I am a mother, I am a father and I see you, hear you but would love to tell what I really want and how I want things done.




By Hellena Kambadza

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