We are HEROES – Mary Seacole

The Jamaica Observer is running a series on Jamaica’s heroes. Among them there is this one for one of my heroines—Mary Seacole.

BORN in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1805, Mary Seacole, who was born Mary Jane Grant, was the daughter of a white Scottish officer in the British Army and a free Jamaican Creole woman.

Seacole’s mother who was a healer, specialising in traditional Caribbean and African herbal remedies, was the caretaker of the Blundell Hall boarding house where she tended to disabled European soldiers.

It was here, after growing around medicine and the love for life that Seacole acquired her nursing skills. From administering to a doll progressing to pets and then helping her mother to treat humans, Seacole’s nursing skills took flight easily.

In the Crimean War, where Seacole was best known for her humanitarian acts as a nurse, she set up and operated boarding houses in Panama to assist in treating the sick. Relying on her experience in the Caribbean, she applied to the War Office and asked to be sent as an army assistant to Crimea. She was refused, mainly because of prejudice against women’s involvement in medicine at the time. However, overcame that as well as racial prejudice and continued in her endeavours to heal the sick.

Prior to her death on May 14, 1881 at the age of 76, a dispatch written by William Howard Russell, special correspondent of The Times described Seacole as a “warm and successful physician, who doctors and cures all manner of men with extraordinary success. She is always in attendance near the battlefield to aid the wounded and has earned many a poor fellow’s blessing.”

Russell also wrote that she “redeemed the name of sutler”. Seacole was honoured in her lifetime and today, she is noted for her bravery and medical skills and received the Jamaican Order of Merit and the Crimea Medal.

For the original report go to http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/teenage/We-are-HEROES—Mary-Seacole-_8062702

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