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Chinese peacekeeper heals wounds in hot spots

By JIANG CHENGLONG | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-05-29 20:05

Zhou Juan takes care of a hospitalized patient. [Photo by Xiong Guangzhou/For chinadaily.com.cn]

"As a Chinese person, I hope I can try my best to do my job well and make my contribution to safeguarding world peace," said Zhou Juan in a promotional video released by United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, in March, which has been viewed thousands of times on social media platforms such as Youtube and Facebook.

Zhou is a nurse of the 10th team of peacekeepers taking part in the UN mission in Mali, a country that has recently experienced instability and armed conflict.

"In the hospital, I'm responsible for registering patient information and medical statistics," she said, adding that this is her third peacekeeping mission. "My first mission was in South Sudan in 2013, and the second and third were in Mali."

Zhou Juan (third from the right) and other peacekeepers rush to the airport to receive wounded personnel. [Photo by Xiong Guangzhou/For chinadaily.com.cn]

According to the Chinese military peacekeeper, the main task of the Chinese hospital is to provide healthcare to over 6,200 peacekeepers from more than 30 countries.

"When necessary, we will provide humanitarian assistance to the Malian population, as well as casualty and medical evacuations," said Zhou. "We often carry out free medical treatment and make donations for Malian children, and will try our best to help them according to their medical needs."

Becoming a soldier was Zhou's childhood dream.

In 2000, less than six months after entering college, she decided to join the army. After two years' service, she was admitted to a military medical university and became a nurse at a military hospital soon after graduation.

Zhou Juan checks a student for a free clinic in a local school. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn] 

Zhou's first overseas peacekeeping post was in 2013 when her hospital was assigned to organize the 11th Chinese peacekeeping medical detachment to South Sudan.

The young nurse submitted her application for the mission, although her daughter was only three years old at the time.

To improve her skills as a peacekeeper, she took lessons with an English teacher for a month before her deployment.

Zhou Juan takes a photo with a local girl. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Zhou's superior skills in oral English, nursing and care won her the UN Peace Medal of Honor.

Her second peacekeeping post took place in Mali in 2017. She was selected as a peacekeeper again due to her outstanding performance and abundant experience in South Sudan.

While there she participated in the rescue of a large number of wounded and critically ill patients. On an early morning in November 2017, the UN stabilization mission's Niger combat battalion was hit by heavy terrorist attacks, resulting in three people killed and 14 injured.

Zhou was called to the scene and provided first aid, including oxygen and emergency electrocardiographic monitoring, and closely cooperated with doctors for emergency surgeries.

Now on her third peacekeeping tour as a nurse, after returning to Mali last year, she found that a small sapling she had planted four years previously had grown stronger with long slender twigs extending out from the branches.

"As a female peace envoy, I feel very proud of my mission in Mali, where the situation is the most complex and dangerous," said Zhou. "My experience in Mali has made me more aware of the importance of peace for a country.

"Like the Malian people, we Chinese are also peace lovers and hope our country can be stable and united," she said. "I hope Mali can be peaceful and that Malian women and children can be healthier and happier."

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