On Campus / January 2017

We Serve Everyone

Faculty, students and alumni alike embrace Mount Mercy’s core values of excellent education and compassionate service.

Anne Hartman, lecturer of nursing, leverages her special abilities as a nurse to serve the people of Nigeria and teach the joy of service to all of Mount Mercy’s nurses, encouraging them to make a life of service their own.

Anne Hartman

In 2007, Hartman went on a three-week mission trip to Nigeria as a part of the United Methodist Church’s Iowa-Nigeria Partnership. She worked with colleagues to build a school and, after identifying a need for basic health care services, set up village clinics. Despite the impressive work accomplished, Hart­man left the country shocked and angry.

“I was just astounded,” Hartman said about living conditions. “In a country with those kind of natural resources—the fifth largest oil producing country in the world—most of the population lives in utter poverty. No schools, no roads, no electricity, no running water.”

Hartman and the team had helped hundreds of people during the trip, but she felt it wasn’t enough. She made the commitment to go back and has been to Nigeria five times with a medical team. They worked to strengthen hospitals and clinics so people have access to health care year-round. This allowed the team to focus on developing the trust of people, in turn, building trust in the hospitals.

“We serve everyone in these clinics,” Hartman said. “We don’t turn people away because of their faith or religion. There’s a lot of violence between Christians and Muslims in the region, and a lot of clinics will only serve people of a certain religion. We serve everyone.”

Though international service is a passion, 2011 was the last year Hartman and the team were able to travel to Nigeria. Since then, the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram took over the territory and conditions became too dangerous for Westerners. According to The Washington Post, in 2015 alone, Boko Haram killed more than 6,000 people.

Still, Hartman is dedicated to the people of Nigeria; she and her church send supplies and funds whenever possible to facilitate the work started just a few years ago. One project she feels helps most is providing supplies for layettes—kits filled with basic supplies needed to raise a newborn.

“A lot of women don’t come to the hospital to deliver their baby,” Hartman said. “A lot of women birth their babies in a hut, at home, where there might not be a clean environment. When we have these kits to offer, sometimes that’s all the encouragement it takes to get a mother to come to the hospital to have her baby—she knows she’ll have supplies to take home with her.

“I was just astounded … most of the population lives in utter poverty. No schools, no roads, no electricity, no running water.” — Anne Hartman

Volunteering and service learning are so embedded in MMU’s values and teaching, that every student will be challenged to think about how they can use their skills and interests to help others. Students at Mount Mercy have so many opportunities to participate in volunteerism, ranging from a one-day local event, to an alternative spring break service trip within the U.S., to international trips. I encourage them to participate in volunteer work using their skills, whether that’s through the free clinic locally, or something in the United States or internationally.”

Hartman hopes to travel again in 2017, whether to Nigeria or somewhere where the need is just as critical.

“My parents were always involved with missions work through church, and so to me it seemed natural to combine my love for travel with my desire to help people who need health care. Traveling with a missions team, and working in a developing country, is so much more rewarding to me than a tourist trip, because I come home with a deeper understanding of what life is like for the people who live there.”

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