Humanising and letting oneself be humanised


Sister Niên dj, a nurse in Cameroon, shares with us a transformative experience in the dispensary that taught her to discover God in all things and to put Him first so that He can help her to work well.


Turning a deaf ear for a long time


Portrait de Nien à l'occasion de ses voeux défintifsI am a nurse at the dispensary in Karna, a village located in the region of Adamaoua, bordering Nigeria to the west and the Central African Republic to the east. You also need to know that I am very sensitive to smells.


In our neighbourhood, we have an old father who often came to meet us. From week to week his visits disturbed us. One day, I took the time to really listen to him. I understood that he had a sick daughter, lying at home, with wounds on her body. He wanted us to go and treat his daughter at home.


The days passed and the father kept on coming and going … quite unafraid of disturbing us. His attitude finally reminded me of the parable of the widow and the judge in the Gospel of St Luke 18:1-8. This passage from the Word of God touched and challenged me. I decided to go and visit the young woman.


Letting myself be touched

A terrible smell emanated from the house. Nevertheless, I went in to see the sick woman. What a sight! A young woman was lying in a room without a window to let the light in. Her only friends were flies. And what a wound on her body – none of her relatives had seen the wound because no one came near to wash her. When I arrived she shouted: “Sister, save me! In the name of Jesus, save me. Sister, do not leave me… “


The smell made me nauseous. On leaving the room, I spoke to her parents and showed them the wound. I did everything I could to get her to the nearest hospital but unfortunately did not succeed. I felt sorry for her and decided to treat her at the clinic despite the many difficulties.


The parents refused. Her condition was too advanced, and I knew I could not save her. On the other hand, I could at least give her back her dignity, even if she was going to die. She was a creature of God. I had to care for her in a clean setting and make it possible for people to approach her.


This woman is a creature of God


I talked for a long time and came back the next day because the father’s permission was essential. I gave him an ultimatum: “If you haven’t come by 1 pm, I can’t do anything more for you“. I went back into the patient’s room to make her understand that her father did not want her to go to the clinic but that I was ready to welcome her. She cried out, Sister, we are leaving, I am the one who is sick and not my father, I am the one who is in pain, save me, I am leaving. “



Back at the dispensary, I shared my decision and my convictions with my colleague, an Associate of the Daughters of Jesus, who was still reluctant. I told him, “It is God we are helping, it is Jesus, for this woman is a creature of God. This is honouring the Holy humanity of the Son of God. She has the right to die with dignity”.


I wondered what would happen, what they would decide. We were still talking when – surprise – a motorbike arrived with four people, including the patient. I was very moved but I welcomed them with great joy.


When the Lord works with us


We set up the patient and began to wash her. We did everything as if we were in a real operating theatre. I prepared the deep wound cleaning with care and a lot of fear.


We started with a prayer even though the patient was Muslim. I asked her to forgive me if I felt nauseous or vomited while doing this work, explaining my difficulty in this regard. “It’s not you who smells bad, it’s the wound. “She replied, “No problem, Sister!



Nien en train de nettoyer la plaie

The procedure lasted from 1 pm until 4 pm, without any difficulty while working! I stayed on my feet for four hours and was not tired at all. Even the smell didn’t bother me. When I finished, my tears flowed. I didn’t understand why and couldn’t grasp what I had just done. After a stop on the way, I came back to see if I had really carried out this extremely delicate treatment. Then thanksgiving arose in me, “You did this, for without You I could not! If it wasn’t for You, I couldn’t have done this act! “





Nien en train de soigner la malade

The patient spent a week in the clinic. She was clean, and the smell gradually went away. She saw her family and people from the village could visit and stay with her. Finally, she died with dignity, surrounded by her family. Her father, who used to curse me, now thanked and blessed me.



« Jesus, with You I can do everything»


In the section of the Rule of Life of the Daughters of Jesus, entitled “Sent out for Mission”, we find this expression of a deep desire :

“Like Jesus, who was concerned for the outcast of his day,

we wish to be attentive

to the cry of those most in need in our area.”

Rule of Life n° 17



If I am not attentive to the signs of God, I am working in a vacuum. From now on, every time I carry out a treatment, I put God first so that he helps me to work well, and so that I do not traumatise the sick by pricking them several times.


portrait Nien en uniforme d'infirmière


In life, if we can’t do the big things, let’s start with the little things. If in our eyes the situation is beyond us, let us try to work with Christ, for he says to us, “Without Me you can do nothing. “


Sister Anna Nguyên Thi Niên dj


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