Blog: Inspiring leaders

Dr Mhoira Leng
22nd October 2013

Amazing LDI family
One of the greatest privileges of my life is to be a mentor; to see and support others to explore themselves and to develop and grow. I meet and work alongside inspiring and committed people who are open to learn, eager to develop new skills, thirsty for knowledge and willing to share something of their life's journey with me. To see a young and perhaps faltering student manage to develop clinical judgement; to watch a young physician in training realise the impact of holistic care; to help colleagues do their first research project; to see clinical skills honed; to facilitate the journeys of self awareness and self acceptance; to support national leaders take up their roles with confidence and to listen as colleagues struggle to balance the commitments and dedication to palliative care with family and personal needs and demands is demanding yet such a blessing.
Anjum and Dinesh with their sleepy mentor
I have just returned from the Leadership Development Initiative course now hosted by Ohio Health. 21 leaders along with the innovative and hard working faculty, the visionary funders and gifted mentors spent an amazing week together sharing their stories, learning how to communicate our messages and encouraging one another in our journeys internal and external to be leaders in palliative care. This initiative seeks to grow leaders in order to advance palliative care and to make a difference for the many many people who are in need across our globe. It was incredible to hear tales from 5 continents and to listen to how often it is a personal tragedy or experience of loss or pain that acts as the spur to be involved with this demanding yet rewarding path that so deeply connects with the pain in our world yet also brings hope and joy to the places of despair and sadness.  We also heard of incredible achievements; Nepal now has access to affordable oral morphine
thanks to the work of Dr Bishnu. Dr Eva wrote the first ever morphine prescription in Guatemala. Dr Chitra is pioneering the need for holistic care within chronic mental health. Dr Odontaya is now a TV celebrity in
Team building last course
Mongolia integrating palliative care in that resource limited situation. Dr Israel is preparing to start the first postgraduate training for palliative care in Nigeria. Dr Dinesh plans to have a message that 'pain can be helped by choosing palliative care' screened in the cinemas of Assam and even available as a ring tone. Dr's Snezana (Serbia) and Dilsen (Turkey) are making their vision for integrating palliative care in oncology centres a reality.
Dr and Mrs Israel Kolawole
Dr's Shoba and Anjum are establishing their hospital as centres of excellence for training in Jaipur and Bangalore. Dr Nicholas, Marta and Leonardo are changing the face of palliative care in Latin America. Dr's Ali, Narine and Silviu face huge challenges in Albania, Armenia and Romania and can feel overwhelmed yet are helping build their societies and make a significant difference. Dr Rumana is one of very few palliative care clinicians working in her nation of Bangladesh. Dr's Sam and Charmaine, you are reaching out to some of the most vulnerable in Uganda and South Africa and Dr Esther is working in our sister hospital in Kenya and now has a mandate to represent the needs to her Ministry of Health. To all of you and to the amazing faculty and fellow mentors; thank you for the sacrifices and commitment; thank you
for sharing your journey with me and each other, thank you for blessing my heart and for being a blessing to so many.

These next few weeks I will have the opportunity to share more of the work of Cairdeas and our partners at meetings and conferences in the UK. Please come and join if you can. There will also be a UK based conference to look in more depth at mentoring and sharing with colleagues involved in the THET palliative care project as well as Palliative Care Works and an opportunity to share at the Scottish CMF conference. I'm looking forward to meeting many folk after a long gap and sharing some of the blessings I receive as a world citizen and representative for Cairdeas and reflecting the Gaelic meaning; friendship and fellowship. I quoted from Tennyson's famous poem Ulysses when he says 'I am a part of all that I have met'. In this global age we are still brothers and sisters; sharing in the joys and the pains. The boundaries of nation, faith and ethnicity serve to enrich but should not divide. Each meeting, each experience, each challenge serves to enrich our lives and help us grow in love and service. As the man of wisdom says in the book of Ecclesiastes; 'there is a time for everything under the sun; a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance'
Let me finish this post with a quote from one of my colleagues and former students who summarised the role of a mentor in a way that humbles and inspires me. A mentor is 'the one created by God to wear another's shoes'.