Girls' education strengthening and healing communities
This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, February 11, we’re celebrating members of our CAMFED Association of women leaders who are breaking boundaries to become qualified healthcare professionals in their communities across Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Having overcome multiple barriers to their education, our sisters are now boosting the numbers of doctors, nurses, and medical scientists in under-resourced rural communities, providing essential healthcare and information.
Hear from some of the young women who are graduating from secondary school to become respected role models and advocates for health equality and girls’ education.
Racheal, Nurse & Second Lieutenant, Malawi
“I’m very proud of myself because I’ve managed to get that degree, I’ve managed to reach this far, to join the Malawi Defense Force and I’m very proud. I take myself as a hard worker and [a] most resilient young woman.”
Racheal’s family struggled to afford basic school supplies for her and she was on the verge of dropping out from Secondary School. CAMFED stepped in to support Racheal with a holistic package of support including school fees, uniform, stationery and menstrual products. She excelled in sciences and after graduating, trained as a nurse at Kamuzu College of Nursing as well as joining the Malawi Defense force.
Alongside her career, Racheal is an active CAMFED Association member, conducting philanthropic work and health outreach in her community.
“CAMFED blessed me with a bursary scholarship for my final year tuition which helped me focus on both my final year project and academics. I knew I couldn’t disappoint them, so I won the Murray Prize for Best Project in Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics!”
Lydia was supported through Senior High School by CAMFED where she excelled in sciences and secured a place at the University of Health and Allied Sciences to study Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. CAMFED supported her with a bursary and tuition fees, and on graduation in 2022, she was honored to receive the Murray Prize for Best Project in Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics.
Lydia is an active member of the CAMFED Association, advocating for the rights of women and girls. She also volunteers as a peer-support mentor, or Learner Guide at her local school, encouraging girls with a similar background to herself to study STEM subjects and follow science related careers.
Lydia is currently working as a Research Assistant in the Analytical and Organic Chemistry Lab at the University of Health and Allied Sciences. In future, Lydia aims to become a Biomedical Scientist and to enable vulnerable members of her community, especially women, to access low-cost health diagnoses and treatment.
I envision a future where every girl will be bold to take up courses in STEM without being afraid of failure.
Lydia, CAMFED Association member and Research Assistant at University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana
Nyaradzo, Medical Physics Student, Zimbabwe
“My goal is to become one of the [most] successful medical physicists in Zimbabwe, in Africa, and the world at large. And being in a male-dominated field, I want to motivate other young women who are still in school that what men can do, we can also do it better.”
CAMFED stepped in to support Nyaradzo in Form 2 when the costs of education became too much for her family. With holistic support in place, she graduated secondary school and went on to study for a Bachelor of Science at the University Of Zimbabwe, specializing in Medical Physics. Medical Physics is the application of physics to healthcare; for patient imaging, measurement and the treatment of cancers and other diseases. Nyaradzo is a trailblazer in this traditionally male-dominated field, demonstrating that achievement is not limited by gender.
Joanna, Medical Doctor and Disability Activist, Ghana
“The Chief heard about me from my dad and he’s proud that a girl from this community has been able to go far in life and is coming back to give something valuable.”
Joanna grew up in a poor family in the Upper East Region of Ghana and was affected by a disability as a young child. In spite of the challenges she progressed to Senior High School and won a place to study Medicine at the University of Development Studies in Tamale. However, funds were tight and she wasn’t sure if she would be able to study for the full 7 years.
Joanna was selected for support offered by CAMFED and the Mastercard Foundation, and graduated as a Medical Doctor in 2021. Today Joanna is a disability activist and qualified doctor, providing compassionate, lifesaving care to vulnerable people in her community.
Asha, CAMFED Association member and District Health Committee Vice Chair, Tanzania
“The responsibility to ensure that our community has access to quality healthcare is for all of us. Fellow CAMFED Association members, let us continue to dedicate ourselves to the community, and I promise our contributions that we make in the Health Sector are going to be recognized and valued.
I was selected as Vice Chair of the District Health Committee in Kibiti where I ensure that the health needs of women and girls are included. All this is the result of the education you invested in me!”
Asha was supported by CAMFED from her first year of secondary school until she graduated in 2012 and joined the CAMFED Association — educated young women spearheading CAMFED’s programs. Asha is passionate about healthcare in her community and in her role as Vice Chair of the district health committee, is bringing a more gender balanced approach to local and regional decision making and ensuring that healthcare issues that affect women and girls remain at the forefront.
Header photo taken by Mark Read
More news and stories from our sisters in medicine and science!
Thalitha was supported by CAMFED through secondary school, and excelled in her school leaving examinations, particularly in science subjects. Talitha was awarded with a presidential scholarship, a fully funded university place to study for a Bachelors of Science in Crop Science and Technology at Chinhoyi university. Talitha met His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa at a ceremony to congratulate the winners.
CAMFED Association nurse safely delivers baby at roadside
Juliana Atanga, a nurse and member of the CAMFED Association, sprang into action when a woman on her bus went into labor. Rallying others to help, she saved mother and baby, despite having no formal training in midwifery.
I was very happy to be among the girls chosen to receive support through university. I chose to study Nursing and Midwifery at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences because I want a career where I will be able to serve human needs.
Ottilia completed her training as a Nurse Aide at the Mutare Provincial Red Cross Centre in March 2019, volunteers at her local clinic assisting the nurse on duty in the dispensary. She is gaining experience for her application to nursing school. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ottilia conducted vital community outreach to help stop the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging homeowners to install a “tippy tap” for hand washing.