Training African Health Care Professionals
It takes a very special person to work with children who are in mourning, but Laura Nabors, assistant professor of psychology, is that kind of individual.
It takes a very special person to work with children who are in mourning, but Laura Nabors, assistant professor of psychology, is that kind of individual. She means it when she says she wants to “help children deal with grief after having lost loved ones, especially parents.”
That concern has led her to work with children whose parents were dying from HIV and to conduct research at Hospice of Bluegrass and pilot studies for Fernside Center for Grieving Children. At Fernside she examined children’s emotional functioning after the deaths of parents and the effectiveness of grief camps for helping them cope with parental loss.
Now she’s focusing her attention on a new challenge half way around the globe. Nabors has been invited to participate in a People to People Ambassador Program that is currently visiting Cape Town and Johanesburg, Africa. The group will meet with health care professionals in South Africa’s Department of Health, the Counseling and Support Unit of the Government AIDS Action Plan, and several hospice organizations.
Members’ primary goal is to train professionals who must deal with dying patients and their families and to educate them about pain management and standard and alternative medical treatments. This will not be an easy task because of the paucity of resources in many regions of Africa, but Nabors reports that the group is enthusiastic about its mission.
During the visit, she hopes to engage in dialogue about ways to facilitate adjustment and coping for grieving children. She became interested in this group when she worked in Baltimore at a school mental health center and Maryland’s Hospital for Children. Many of the children talked about having lost loved ones, and grief counselors recognized their desperate need for comfort and support.
Nabors believes her experience in Africa will make an impact not only on future research and publication, but also on her teaching. “I’m very interested in service learning and improving cultural exchange and sharing of clinical and scientific knowledge,” she says. “This visit is a chance to help and share knowledge.”
Her participation in the People to People Ambassador Program is funded by the Fernside Center, which she describes as “a great organization providing invaluable services to children and their families.” In her role as an ambassador for McMicken College and the United States, Laura Nabors herself is contributing an invaluable service and acting as a role model in a crucial international effort.
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