Recently, PSCTP Board of Director, Scholarship Committee member and scholar mentor, Dory Moore, had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania and meet with several of our scholars. She spent a week in the home of Rebeka Gurti and her husband/former PSCTP scholar, Amani Arajiga and their three children. While there, Dory also got to meet Iman Charles (who traveled four hours from Dodoma to meet her) and Elisha Panga (who happened to be in town from Dar es Salaam to conduct research on a school project).
She and Rebeka’s family then traveled several hours to Mwanza, where Dory finally got to meet Arafa Mghusi (her mentee) and Jastin Fredy (who works there). Jacqueline Mungare, Saum Kingu and Boniphace Petro wanted to come to meet Dory as well but could not, as they were in the middle of semester exams or travel was too far. It was a wonderful chance to get more acquainted with almost all of the scholars in person! As one can see from their smiles in the pictures below, a good time was had by all.
Quarterly “All Scholar” zoom calls were initiated in 2022. The Scholarship Committees members and scholars meet and discuss challenges they face, job prospects and the future of their medical professions in Tanzania. In addition, our scholars have used the forum to get to know one another and make connections with one another despite being in different geographic locations. It makes the Board and the Scholarship Committee particularly proud to see them building their own network and so graciously helping each other.
Please enjoy the following update on each of our scholars. They are all doing so very well and we are excited to report on their progress. One of our scholars has just graduated from medical school. Four more of our scholars will be graduating this fall with diplomas in social work and nursing. The others continue their journeys to become healthcare providers in Tanzania in the fields of medicine, nursing and social work.
Dr. Rebeka Gurti
Rebeka graduated from medical school at King Ceasor University School of Medicine in Uganda on March 23, 2023. In a frustrating turn of events, Rebeka was advised she could not apply to take the pre-internship exams because the date of her graduation was literally one day after the Tanzanian deadline to apply. Formal graduation is an absolute prerequisite to taking the exams. Accordingly, she will now have to wait until October to begin making application but Rebeka is making the best of it.
She has just commenced working at the Maternity Hospital in Arusha as a volunteer, so that she can maintain all of her clinical skills as an OB/Gyn physician. She also continues to oversee the operation of Nazareti Clinic out of her home in Manyara, Tanzania, where she hopes to start a program focused on reproductive and child health.
Rebeka’s dream of becoming an obstetrician/gynecologist stems from early in her childhood. Her mother was a birthing assistant to the women in her community and as the oldest girl, Rebeka was required to assist her mother, rather than go to school. She did not begin primary school until the age of 11 but by then, she had witnessed so many maternal health problems that the drive to get an education and become a medical provider to help other women was strong. Rebeka refused to marry when she completed primary school, despite pressure from her parents, so that she could fulfill her dreams. She truly is a force of nature.
Saum Kingu Registered Nurse Program, Decca College of Health and Allied Science
Saum will be graduating from Decca College in Dodoma in September 2023 with a Diploma in Nursing and Midwifery. The area of maternal health is of particular interest to her and she will seek employment in the field of obstetrics/midwifery following graduation. Like many of our scholars, Saum hopes to eventually return to school to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and Midwifery, so that she can realize her dream of becoming a good midwife. As is often the case in Tanzania, she will first have to “volunteer” [as there are seldom paying jobs available to new graduates] in a governmental health facility for more clinical exposure and experience before making application to return to school. She describes there being a period of “long waiting” while she volunteers.
In her final term of nursing school, Saum’s courses include Cancer and Tumors; Medical Conditions; Reproductive Surgical Conditions; and Care of Patients with Mental Health. She has continued to receive excellent grades, despite there being a lot of challenges along the way. She has successfully balanced motherhood with a full-time nursing program and is happy that she will be graduating with such a high score.
Amani was the recipient of a PSCTP scholarship for medical school. Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances, he resigned from the scholarship program after his first year of school. That year has not gone to waste, certainly, as Amani learned so much about medicine and patient care that he was able to take on the role of Administrator of Nazareti Clinic. He and Rebeka have always had a dream about opening a clinic and indeed, they converted their home into the Nazareti Clinic, which is now in its third year of operation. It keeps its doors open 24 hours a day, every day, to make sure patients can receive the care they need. Amani continues to teach science in the local secondary school in addition to his clinic work.
He also remains very engaged with PSCTP and almost all of current scholars. He has coordinated a very active WhatsApp group with each of them, which has allowed our scholars to form a strong network. This will allow them to continue working together in the years to come. For so many reasons, we consider Amani to be a wonderful asset and ambassador to our scholarship program.
Elisha Hhando Clinical Social Work, Kampala International University
Elisha will be graduating from Kampala International University in Dar es Salaam with a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Social Work in September 2023 and eventually hopes to pursue a PhD in Social Work. Social Work is a very new field of healthcare science in Tanzania and Elisha strongly feels that an advanced degree will be required in order for him to be able to work on the development and implementation of social work policy nationwide. Elisha continues to earn high grades with an overall GPA of 4.7.
He is especially passionate about his academic pursuits, as evidenced in the numerous training courses he has taken, in addition to the regular curriculum of his studies. He also views the PSCTP Speaker Series online and was particularly happy and inspired to see the Jane Goodall interview, since he had been involved in Roots and Shoots as a youth. He finishes his courses in August, then continues his work on his research project focusing on the “Contributions of spirituality and religiosity in the health of older adults in Tanzania.” He will graduate in December. He has developed a strong relationship with Iman Charles and mentors him weekly.
Veronica Lugwisha Clinical Social Work, Mwenge Catholic University
Veronica is coming down the home stretch! She is in the last semester of her studies, which will result in a Diploma in Social Work from Mwenge Catholic University in Moshi. She expects to be done with her studies by late September and the graduation ceremony will follow soon thereafter. Currently, Veronica is enrolled in five modules: Quality Assurance and Social Work; Research and Social Work; HIV Aids and Counseling; Laws in Social Work; and Conflict Management and Social Work. In August, she will begin data collection for her research project.
This semester, Veronica is also doing field work at Mowenzi Regional Hospital in Moshi Kilimanjaro, where she is rotating through the HIV Clinic, Psychiatric Clinic, and Maternity wards. During her rotation, Veronica provides counseling and applies for exemptions on behalf of patients who are unable to afford their medical treatment bills. We have seen that Veronica goes the extra mile for the patients she serves. One touching case involved a five-year-old girl who was admitted to the hospital and subsequently abandoned by her parents. Veronica says, “During my field work I managed to help her, and she is now taken to the orphanage center. I visited [the] last two weeks and she is in good hands.”
Veronica has expressed gratitude for the educational opportunities she is receiving, as well as the chance to make a difference in people’s lives. To her PSCTP mentors she says, “It is always my hope to become someone who can help others, especially those who are in need. I thank you for you and the Team for your kindness and having us [herself and the other scholars] as part of your family. To me The Phil Simon Clinic is my mother and my father.”
Arafa Mghusi Clinical Social Work, Mkolani College of Health Sciences
Arafa is in her last semester of studies at the Mkolani Foundation Health Sciences Training Institute in Mwanza, Tanzania. She will graduate in September with a diploma in Social Work. In addition to her classes, Arafa has had extensive fieldwork opportunities in area hospitals. She has enjoyed the learning and work immensely and is very animated (in her quiet and thoughtful way) when talking about this work.
Presently, Arafa is working in a Methadone clinic in an area hospital in Mwanza. In addition to counseling those being treated there, she assists in teaching the education classes patients are required to attend. She also is part of a team which recruits addicts for treatment. The team includes former addicts who can speak from experience, unlike herself. She appreciates the wisdom of this approach.
Arafa loves the counseling aspects of Social Work. She has become her class leader, and counsels her fellow students, especially other young women. She counsels them not to go home when they graduate, but to continue practicing their skills, thus continuing their learning. She also counsels young women to stay in school instead of marrying young. After graduating, Arafa plans to volunteer/work for one to two years, after which she would like to continue her education. She knows she needs to delve deeper into her areas of interest to become a more effective Social Worker.
Boniphace Mujambere Petro Medical School, University of Dodoma
Boniphace is in his second term of medical school at University of Dodoma. Though it is a very rigorous academic program, he reports that he is just loving medical school and rising to its challenges. He maintains a busy schedule. His most recent learning modules include gross and neuroanatomy with 4 hour dissection labs 4 times a week. He is also studying embryology and biostatistics. Interestingly, there is quite a lot of time devoted to psychology and sociology, including the impact of disease on the mental health of patients and the community. He will have exams in September and begin his second year of medical school in November.
His upcoming clinical experiences will take him out of Dodoma to other regions of Tanzania, including Manyara, where he may be able to meet up with Rebeka. Although he does not have family in Dodoma, he has a good support system of friends and classmates. He does take a bit of time on Sundays to do some social events and nonmedical activities.
He recently wrote: “It is my hope that you are doing well, I am also fine, continuing with my studies, and l do thank God everything is fine. We are now on the final preparation towards the end of semester two examinations which will commence on 7th of August to the beginning of November. Thanks be to God! And greet thanks and appreciations to you and all family of PSCTP for your courage and support throughout this academic year. May God Bless You.”
Iman Charles Chimulu Clinical Social Work, Open University of Tanzania
Iman is in his second semester of his 3-year diploma program in Clinical Social Work at the Open University of Tanzania. He reports having a "very tough schedule," but is enjoying the program. He recently completed a 30-minute presentation on Advocacy and Empowerment of Youth. The current government focus and that of his community is on helping elders and their issues. Iman’s hope is to create more balance, as there is a big problem in Tanzania with youth unemployment. He believes the youth are the future. Iman's philosophy is to "find a solution rather than just complaining." In his words, "you can't measure wisdom by age," and he hopes there will be a cultural and policy shift in Tanzania with more focus on youth.
We are especially inspired by Iman’s passion toward the profession of social work, which is made that much more remarkable by the fact that he had worked for several years as a Clinical Officer (akin to a physician’s assistant in the U.S.) before returning to school. While working, Iman discovered that there was an enormous gap between patients being diagnosed with medical conditions and their ability to secure the care and treatment needed. This led him to believe that there is an enormous need in the community for social workers to help patients navigate this gap.
Iman felt he could be much more effective as a social worker who is also knowledgeable about medicine, prompting him to pursue this additional education. He has a vision about how much better health care could and should be and we are excited to be part of his journey. Iman’s goal is to complete his diploma in Social Work and then continue to ultimately obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work so that he can really make an impact on the way in which health care is delivered in his country.
Jastin Mwanyila Fredy Masters in Critical Care and Trauma Nursing
Jastin was volunteering at Decca College when we “met” him. Since he had his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, he was able to tutor and oversee clinical rotations for their nursing students. He is currently working as a nursing school instructor at Bugando Referral Hospital in Mwanza, a position he obtained after becoming a PSCTP scholarship recipient. He will use his scholarship to obtain a Master’s degree in Critical Care and Trauma Nursing. His employment contract requires him to complete a minimum of one year before they will write a letter of referral, so he has had to defer his application to school.
As soon as the requisite time has been completed, Jastin will be applying to Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, where he hopes to begin his studies in the fall of 2024. In the interim, he has been quite engaged with the PSCTP scholars and regularly participates in discussions with them.
Jastin’s enthusiasm and gratitude for PSCTP are ever present. He was thrilled to meet Dory and so proud she visited him at his workplace in Mwanza. He was married in July and is understandably excited about the year ahead.
Jacqueline Mungare Wilfred
Nurse Midwife Program, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences
Jacqueline is in the second term of a two-year Master’s degree program in Nurse Midwifery at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Dar es Salaam. She also continues to volunteer as a mentor to three of the PSCTP scholars. She is doing very well with her studies, having passed her exams for her first semester. She finished the first module of Advanced Antenatal Care and has two more modules to complete. The first three semesters involve classes and rotations in hospitals both in Dar es Salaam and the surrounding areas. In the last semester, it will be all about research.
The midwifery students have both classroom and clinical time each week. This semester, the clinical site is far from Jacqueline’s home, requiring her to travel for two hours each way and take two buses each way, with the average “day” lasting about 15 hours. They see up to 100 mothers each day. She is encouraged by a trend of increased prenatal visits and seeing the men take an interest in the women’s care.
In addition, the midwifery students simultaneously supervise the undergraduate nursing students in their clinical hours and teach their classroom courses. Jacqueline is also required to provide presentations to her own teachers and fellow students on a variety of antenatal obstetric/midwifery issues. Her topic this semester is Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. On Fridays, they have seminars on interesting cases. This semester will end in mid-August. Jacqueline has already been anticipating her research project for next year and, after collaborating with her research mentor and considering several options, has settled on the topic of “Exploring Midwives’ Efforts to Maintain Clinical Competencies for the Provision of Quality Midwifery Services."
Jaqueline recently shared: “My views about the midwifery and women’s health program have not changed. In fact, I am happy to have chosen this path. I have now added a lot more competencies, and I am very grateful. I would like to practice as a midwife, help women within the midwifery scope of care, especially those with a history of fistula.” She would like to help end the stigma of this disease and also hopes to open a clinic to attend women. “Women go through so much, be it those of childbearing age, battling infertility and those who are childfree. Our greatest fulfilment comes when we contribute to improving the welfare of others. I would like to thank the Phil Simon Project for its willingness to continue supporting all of us to make sure we achieve our desired goals. I feel very fortunate for that.”