Monday, July 23, 2012


US BUMED Library and Archives
Chamorro Nursing Graduates

In traditional Chamorro culture, an invisible fence surrounded every Chamorro woman.  This fence meant that she could not go out on dates unless chaperoned by an aunt and such.  She was taken out of school when adolescence set in.  Parents did not jump at opportunities offered to their daughters.

One woman told me how, right after the war, she was approached by a Chamorro nurse who was recruiting young women to enroll in a nurses' training program.  This woman, just 16 at the time, was very excited about becoming a nurse.  As she and the recruiter were finishing their conversation, the father came home from work.  He asked what was the reason for the lady's visit.

When told the answer, the father looked at his daughter and said, "Yanggen para un enfetmera, hånao ya un chule' i balutån-mo.  Lao adahe na un bira hao mågi, sa' ti un gatcha ni un eskaleran guåot para un li'e ta'lo si nanå-mo."  ("If you're going to be a nurse, go and get your things.  But be careful that you don't come back, because you won't even set foot on the first step of the stairs to see your mother again.")

The idea of never seeing her mother again was intolerable, so the recruitment died right then and there.  Her mother hugged her and, crying as well, told her daughetr, "Osge si tatå-mo, hagå-ho, sa' i osgon na påtgon siempre binendise gue' as Yu'us." ("Obey your father, my daughter, because the obedient child is surely blessed by God.")

Years later, the father got ill with old age and the wife was not able to handle all of his physical needs.  So the daughter, now a mother herself, came one day to do for the father what her mother could not do.  When all was done, the mother marveled at her daughter's skill and said, "Ai hagå-ho, sa' un gef tungo' todo håfa para un cho'gue."  ("Oh, my daughter, you really know all you are to do.")

The daughter looked at her father and said, "Atan ha'!  Isao-mo nai!  Sa' depotsi para bai enfetmera!  Ayo ha' tetehnan i para bai hu dulok hao!"  ("Look!  It's your fault!  I was supposed to be a nurse!  The only thing I haven't done yet is poke you with a needle!")

The reality is that, besides the fear many parents had that their daughters would be lead astray if they were not under their supervision, this woman in particular was the oldest daughter on whom her parents could rely.

No comments:

Post a Comment