The ‘nurse’ who rides a donkey

Community health aide Sophia Richards travels for miles to see patients

BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter

Saturday, July 19, 2014

'WHATEVER you do, do it to your best ability', are words which guide the life of one young community health aide who goes beyond the call of duty to serve others.

She is only 28 years old, but Sophia Richards does not allow preserving the image of youth to prevent her from going the extra distance to render her service as a community health aide.

The young woman many days rides a donkey or walks for miles as she works selflessly to touch the lives of many. People are often amazed at the passion with which she carries out her job.

Richards, who lives in Madras, St Ann, serves that community and several neighbouring ones including Barnstaple, Gibraltar and Watt Town.

Reaching many homes by vehicle in some areas is not possible, and access to public transport is many times limited to other areas. Richards, however, is not daunted in doing the job that she loves. Instead of whining over the challenges she face, Richards happily finds other means to get the job done.

"It's fun. I do mostly home visits, check for immunisation delinquents, blood sugar and blood pressure tests," she said.

Growing up in a farming community, it is not unusual for donkeys to be used as a means of transportation; therefore when Richards started working as a community health aide, almost five years ago, she found that form of transportation useful and continues to use it today.

"This is a farming community so it's a norm using the donkey," she said.

Public transport to some communities might not be frequent and, while Richards would prefer the luxury, she does not stand around waiting when none is readily available. She many times travels lonely roads as she intends to meet the daily targets she sets, serving the people.

"The main thing is that, at the end of the day, everyone is comfortable and their needs are met. I am going to be comfortable that everything is done. At the end of the day, you know their needs are met and financially you can take care of your family," she stated.

Richards further stated that the response of the patients always brings her happiness.

"It pleases the heart that most people are saying 'God bless you'," she said.

Richards said that walking far distances to meet the needs of the people was not an issue for her.

"Sometimes I walk the four miles to Gibraltar. If I have to walk, then I walk. If I get drive, then I drive, but if I don't get any taxi, I don't wait so most times I walk," said the vibrant Richards.

There are times when the roads get lonely, but Richards is determined to get the job done.

"Once you come out of Madras, there are no houses until Knibb Street," she explained, saying that about two miles of her journey is undeveloped territory.

The three and half miles to Barnstaple are often covered by using a donkey. This includes riding with farmers sometimes.

"I love my job, I wouldn't give it up for nothing. When you know you help people it's nice. When somebody say 'God bless you', you know your work pay off," she stated.

The community health aide said that she would like to further serve her people as a midwife and so she is now in the process of completing applications to go back to school. The mother of one is passionate about quality service, especially providing sound healthcare.

Richards suggested that young people should choose jobs that they love and not just for the monetary gain so they will be good at what they do and also enjoy it.

"Whatever you do, do it to your best," she stated, "Don't do a job because you want the money, but because you love your job."




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