Wednesday, July 28, 2010

“Washa Tala”: Shining light on the crisis in Congo.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is clearly a country in crisis. Despite being rich in natural resources such as metals and diamonds, with years of war and continued instability, it is rife with violence and suffering. On July 28, 2010, Villanova nurses and the rest of the University community were privileged to hear from two extraordinary women associated with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the DRC who were shining light on the current critical situation in their country. (“Washa Tala” means “Light the lamp” in the Kiswahili language of the DRC).

Mathilde Muhindo Mwamini (left) has dedicated her life to empowering women to overcome discrimination, sexual exploitation, poverty and conflict in this central African country called the “rape capitol of the world.” Olun Kamitatu (2nd from right) works with Church partners to promote policies by governments and mining companies to insure that resource wealth benefits the poor and is not used to fuel conflict. Their talk was sponsored by the University partnership with Catholic Relief Services and The Center for Global and Public Health in the College of Nursing. Joining the women from the DRC were the Center’s director Kim Connolly, MPH, BSN, RN who is also a clinical assistant professor; Suzanne Toton, EdD, associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Maureen McCullough, the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic regional director of CRS.

For more information on Catholic Relief Services, visit

Alumna delivers a punch to pediatric cancer

Lauren Saltzburg, ’09 B.S.N., R.N. presents a $500 check and championship belt to the winners of the Gloves for Love Baggo tournament that raised $8000 for CHOP’s Cancer Center.

For Lauren Saltzburg ’09 B.S.N., R.N., her pediatric rotation on the oncology unit at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) lasted more than a few months. The impact of seeing such young people fighting a potentially lethal disease stayed with her. Not one to walk away from a challenge, she decided to go beyond patient care and in November of 2009 used the “fight” concept represented in boxing gloves to create the Gloves for Love Pediatric Cancer Foundation (, a nonprofit group to “knock out pediatric cancer.” The next step for the Bryn Mawr, Pa. resident was to raise money for the Cancer Center at CHOP, the hospital where she is now employed as a nurse on the neurology unit.

Saltzburg is passionate about helping children in her career. “Knowing that cancer-related deaths are the number one cause of death by disease in children under the age of 14 promptly motivated me to want to help these families,” she explains. “The thought that children have to spend their summers, holidays, and birthdays in hospital rooms instead of at home with their families and friends is a primary reason I want to help this population as well.”

July 17, 2010 was the big day Saltzburg had organized in her hometown of Stone Harbor, N.J. She targeted a goal of at least $8000 for the Cancer Center which she reached through the help of numerous volunteers who ran a Baggo (bean bag toss) tournament she developed. She deliberately chose a game which people of any age could play and expanded the event with food, drink, silent auction donations and a post-event party. She reached her financial goal with all proceeds going to CHOP.

Saltzburg credits her Villanova Nursing education for developing within her the needed perspective to create Gloves for Love. “I was taught exceptional time management and leadership skills while at Villanova and this allowed me to segue into the workplace, while balancing other activities as well,” she offers. “The emphasis that was placed in our education to always look at the big picture and to assess each situation from ‘outside the box’ translated into my everyday life,” says Saltzburg, “I was able to develop this non-profit, always looking at the big picture and keeping my eye on the ultimate goal (fighting cancer).”

For the future, Saltzburg’s hope is to continue to hold charitable events in the South Jersey, Philadelphia, and Main Line regions. “I want Gloves for Love to grow and become a prominent cause, especially in our Villanova community, as I continue to work with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia,” she says. Saltzburg looks forward to getting Villanovans involved with her organization, perhaps joining with the College of Nursing’s chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania, as she moves closer towards knocking out pediatric cancer.