Xtraordinary Women Magazine April 2014 | Page 2

Are you busy with any projects at the moment? If so, please tell us a little more about them.

Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children is my daily ongoing project! Based in Durban, we aim to promote and provide compassionate care to children with life threatening and life limiting illnesses. It’s all about bringing compassion, dignity, relevant care and relief from discomfort and pain to children diagnosed with terminal illnesses within KZN. We do this through direct patient care, mentorship, empowerment of caregivers, training and advocacy.

What is it that you are passionate about?

I am absolutely passionate about compassion itself and child rights, including a child’s right to play, to learn and to live well until their last moment regardless of whether they live for days or years.

Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why

I would have to say my beautiful parents and sister; my colourful family has a wonderful celebratory and accepting attitude to life, death and everything in between. Their deeply generous and giving spirits along with a well-developed sense of humour are always with me.

What is your personal “motto”? Just be true and you can’t really go wrong!

Who or what is your inspiration and why?

On a daily basis I am inspired by the children and parents that I serve. When a child is severely ill, a whole family is in turmoil. Their courage and bravery to face each new day is overwhelming and certainly helps me get out of bed every morning.

What has been your biggest adversity and how have you overcome it?

Despite my profession and chosen career, my father’s death, although fast, was not a good death. The health professionals in charge of his care, did not allow him the pain-free and dignified death he was entitled to. At first I was really angry but realised very quickly that doctors themselves are often ignorant and full of fear and the only way to improve things is to create awareness and teach them how to cope better with death and dying themselves.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Not everything is black and white. Learn to enjoy the grey and focus on the things that really matter, like family, friends and being happy in your day to day existence.

Your favourite quote.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain.

Your favourite daily affirmation (if you have one)? Love begets love; just love more.

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Photos from: leadsa.co.

Dr. julia ambler

Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children


Born and bred in Durban, I graduated from UCT as a medical doctor 1998. After my junior doctor years I spent 6 years in Oxford, UK returning home in early 2008. Whilst in the UK I trained and worked as a general practitioner and a children’s hospice doctor at Helen and Douglas Houses in Oxford. Back in South Africa, palliative care is not a registered speciality and hence the only way to work in this field is through an NGO, which I did for a few years before that NGO was forced to close. In January 2013 I co-founded Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children.

I have two beautiful sons, Luke age 8 and Jack age 6 and live in Durban with my wonderful and supportive partner.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

My first experiences of being a doctor were in the ‘bad old days’ before any treatment for HIV/AIDS was available in South Africa. It was overwhelming. Night after night adults and children would die in front of my eyes and I had no idea how to help. I was then blessed to have the opportunity to work and study further in the UK and discovered the world of palliative care for children. That moment of realising just how much can be done when a child is dying, changed my life forever.

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