In , while she was serving in the National Council of Women, Professor Maathai introduced the idea of community-based tree planting.
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She continued to develop this idea into a broad-based grassroots organisation, the Green Belt Movement GBM , whose main focus is poverty reduction and environmental conservation through tree planting. She addressed the UN on a number of occasions and spoke on behalf of women at special sessions of the General Assembly during the five-year review of the Earth Summit. Thousands of British soldiers were sent to the Black Sea, where supplies quickly dwindled.
By , no fewer than 18, soldiers had been admitted into military hospitals.
At the time, there were no female nurses stationed at hospitals in the Crimea. The poor reputation of past female nurses had led the war office to avoid hiring more. But, after the Battle of Alma, England was in an uproar about the neglect of their ill and injured soldiers, who not only lacked sufficient medical attention due to hospitals being horribly understaffed, but also languished in appallingly unsanitary and inhumane conditions. In late , Nightingale received a letter from Secretary of War Sidney Herbert, asking her to organize a corps of nurses to tend to the sick and fallen soldiers in the Crimea.
Nightingale rose to her calling. She quickly assembled a team of 34 nurses from a variety of religious orders, and sailed with them to the Crimea just a few days later. Although they had been warned of the horrid conditions there, nothing could have prepared Nightingale and her nurses for what they saw when they arrived at Scutari, the British base hospital in Constantinople.
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The hospital sat on top of a large cesspool, which contaminated the water and the hospital building itself. Patients lay on in their own excrement on stretchers strewn throughout the hallways.
Rodents and bugs scurried past them. The most basic supplies, such as bandages and soap, grew increasingly scarce as the number of ill and wounded steadily increased. Even water needed to be rationed. More soldiers were dying from infectious diseases like typhoid and cholera than from injuries incurred in battle. The no-nonsense Nightingale quickly set to work. She procured hundreds of scrub brushes and asked the least infirm patients to scrub the inside of the hospital from floor to ceiling.
Nightingale herself spent every waking minute caring for the soldiers. In the evenings she moved through the dark hallways carrying a lamp while making her rounds, ministering to patient after patient. In additional to vastly improving the sanitary conditions of the hospital, Nightingale created a number of patient services that contributed to improving the quality of their hospital stay. She established a laundry so that patients would have clean linens.
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Based on her observations in the Crimea, Nightingale wrote Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army, an page report analyzing her experience and proposing reforms for other military hospitals operating under poor conditions. Nightingale remained at Scutari for a year and a half.
She left in the summer of , once the Crimean conflict was resolved, and returned to her childhood home at Lea Hurst.
Nightingale decided to use the money to further her cause. In , she funded the establishment of St. Nightingale became a figure of public admiration. Young women aspired to be like her. Eager to follow her example, even women from the wealthy upper classes started enrolling at the training school.
Thanks to Nightingale, nursing was no longer frowned upon by the upper classes; it had, in fact, come to be viewed as an honorable vocation. By the time she was 38 years old, she was homebound and bedridden, and would be so for the remainder of her life. Residing in Mayfair, she remained an authority and advocate of health care reform, interviewing politicians and welcoming distinguished visitors from her bed.
How did she manage to live up to so many roles? What were the difficulties and crises she had to deal with in her successful life?
Is she still a role model for women in the 21st century? Since then, it is tried to typecast her into more than two roles. As the comprehensive threepart biography by Berthold Litzmann was published in the beginning of the 20th century, it should take decades until the new biography on Clara Schumann was written by the English author Joan Chissel published in