“Beyond Anything we Could Have Dreamed”
In the past 14 months, an incredible amount has been achieved at the Sancta Maria College of Nursing and Midwifery in Lukulu, Zambia – “way beyond anything we could have dreamed of”, says Sr Pat Hanvey ibvm. “We’ve procured a college bus, constructed two 20-room dormitories with the capacity of 80 people each, renovated three staff houses, and repaired and painted the roofs of the old hospital buildings. There is so much hope and excitement in the air as Lukulu sees such positive change.”
Sr Pat reports that the young female students who moved into the first dormitory in March greatly appreciate their comfort, space and practicality. The once deprived and impoverished students now have access to some of the best accommodation in the country, creating an environment conducive to study and providing a powerful boost to their self-respect and dignity. The College bus has been invaluable in ensuring that students can gain practical experience in the wards of the local district hospital six kilometres from the College. It also ensures first-year students can attend a 10-week practicum session at Mangango Mission Hospital 160 kilometres away and, in their second and third years of study, attend Lewanika General Hospital, approximately 400 kilometres away. According to Sr Pat, the College could simply not operate without it.
The positive outcomes of this project go well beyond those directly benefitting – they reach far and wide. The contractors and local tradespeople engaged in this job are immensely grateful for the employment and income derived from this project. The women involved in sewing curtains and cleaning the final buildings are also incredibly appreciative. Though somewhat limited, such income is highly valued because of the general impoverishment of the area and the lack of steady employment for most people. The College has provided increased trade for local suppliers, many of whom are small or subsistence farmers. Such trade opportunities provide increased income and greater equity while helping small businesses thrive.
The Loreto Sisters are now about to commence Phase 3 of this initiative – the construction of a third 20-room dormitory and extra classrooms to meet the intake of an additional 60 new first-year students in July 2023. The construction will provide up to 80 more young people with an opportunity for tertiary and professional training otherwise inaccessible to them in this remote and underdeveloped area. Priority will be given to the recruitment of female students to ensure greater equality in terms of opportunities afforded to girls within the local community. Ultimately, this will result in more stable and skilled staff delivering quality health services in these marginalised areas of the country.
Mary Ward International Australia (MWIA) and the Loreto Sisters extend our sincere appreciation to the Noel and Carmel O’Brien Family Foundation and Philippa Cahill for their tremendous support of this project.
Author: Anna Turkington, Manager, Marketing & Communications, Loreto Ministries
Feature Image: Sancta Maria College of Nursing and Midwifery students boarding the college bus.