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ICN urges nurses to contribute to education in developing countries

The International Council of Nurses is appealing for donations to its new Florence Nightingale International Foundation Endowment Fund, which aims to support 500 girls through high school in developing countries

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has launched the Florence Nightingale International Foundation Endowment Fund with the aim of raising $10 million to support 500 girls through high school in developing countries.

Mercy Katindi

The organisation plans to help more people like Mercy Katindi, a recipient of the fund from the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Mercy’s mother died when she was ten and her father was faced with raising his five children alone with little financial assistance.

Typically, Mercy would have left school at 14 in order to work and provide support for the family. However, because her mother was a nurse and a member of the National Nurses Association of Kenya, she was eligible for a Girl Child Education Fund grant and was able to continue her schooling.

ICN president Judith Shamian said nurses are seen as angels but work in dangerous situations and risk their lives on a daily basis. She cited the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa as an example – at the beginning of the outbreak nurses had insufficient protective equipment and clothing and had to wear bin bags as aprons.

She said the nurses who die leave families behind. 'They leave their children and girls who are very vulnerable and need their mother and family to protect them,' she added.

Mercy is now studying computing and engineering at Pusan National University in South Korea after been offered a scholarship by the South Korean government. She hopes to do a Masters degree in artificial intelligence, work for a global company such as Samsung or LG, then take her skills back to Kenya and work in technology development there.

‘I really admire the way Koreans work. I can gain experience and take that back to Kenya and help to take Kenya forward,’ she said.

Mercy, 22, followed in her father’s footsteps rather than her mother’s, but the award does not stipulate that recipients have to become nurses. Instead, the emphasis is on providing girls in developing countries with opportunities.

Chief executive of the ICN David Benton said: ‘Education is about choice. By giving someone an opportunity, they are able to make choices of their own. It is not about girls becoming nurses.’

Ms Katindi added: ‘The fund really gives hope to people like me. So continue donating so that girls like me can get an education.’

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