When she was 14, Sukuratu’s mother moved away to find work, and in the low periods between seasonal farm work, her father struggled to make ends meet. In the hope of a better future, Sukuratu moved to live with relatives, over 350 miles away.
For a while, things were stable, and Sukuratu thrived at her new school. However, when her relatives started a family there was no longer space for Sukuratu in their home and so she slept on a bench outside. She had nowhere else to go and kept asking herself, ‘What will I do when I finish school?’, ‘Should I just drop out now and find work?’ With incredible determination, Sukuratu studied as best she could, took a part time job in a local computer shop and waited anxiously for her results.
“I had that zeal to be the first girl in the family to go to tertiary. That really motivated me and strengthened me, ringing in my ear day in and day out.”
“Nursing is a calling” says Sukuratu, a student at a nurses' training college in Ghana.
Sukuratu and her fellow CAMFED Association members regularly volunteer in local hospitals.
Happily, Sukuratu was awarded a scholarship through CAMFED’s partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, so she could train to be a nurse. On the day she heard the news, Sukuratu says “That was the happiest day in my life! I just couldn’t put it into words. It was just full of tears and I promised myself that I was going to make it marvellously.”
Upon arrival, Sukuratu joined her college CAMFED Association (CAMA) chapter, a group of CAMFED-supported students sharing the same passion for philanthropy and community activism.
“CAMA is my family in university, a network that never dies. They are always ready to motivate you, even if the whole world gives you that notion that you cannot do it.”
As chairperson of the Association chapter, Sukuratu is responsible for organizing community outreach activities. These 24 dedicated student nurses are a force to be reckoned with, plowing back the benefits of their education into their community.
One of Sukuratu’s growing projects is the procurement of National Insurance Cards for children from poor, rural communities so that they can access health care. Many families lack the know-how to obtain the cards, or cannot afford the initial cost and renewal fees to maintain them. Sukuratu and her peers mobilize funds to register children for the cards and educate parents on their use, expiry date, and terms of renewal. Sukuratu intends to roll this project out into different districts throughout her course.
Sukuratu and her fellow CAMFED Association members volunteer regularly at Outpatient Departments in local hospitals, providing free screenings for Hepatitis B and Malaria. Trainee Nurses passionate about giving back to their community are invaluable to resource-deprived rural hospitals. However, Sukuratu also recognizes the value of preventative action through education.
During her course, Sukuratu undertook research on the prevalence of HIV/AIDs and STDs in surrounding districts. The results indicated a need for greater sensitization among the youth, and now Sukuratu runs reproductive health sessions, educating people on protecting themselves, recognizing symptoms, and challenging the stigma preventing them from seeking medical help.
Trainee health professional CAMFED Association members such as Sukuratu are leading a movement for improved health care across Africa.
Sukuratu is already doing so much to promote youth development in her community, but in the future, hopes to institutionalize this support in the form of a non-governmental organization.
“In ten years, I see myself setting up a foundation that will reach out to people who have the zeal to give back to society, especially the youth and women in my community.”