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This post originally appeared on the good.is blog.
The average monthly high in Ethiopia’s capital city is about 73 degrees Fahrenheit—the average highs in July and August are closer to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. So, I look forward to escaping the escalating heat in North Carolina next month to visit Ethiopia—and one stop I look forward to making there is the Alkan Health Science College, a couple of hours from the capital. One of my favorite questions from friends in Europe and the U.S. about Africa is, “How can you stand the heat all year long?” Well, having lived on the continent for more than 15 years, I can share a secret with you: Africa is not hot! Especially mountainous countries in East Africa, like Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.
Thanks to a partnership with GlobalGiving, IntraHealth International is working with the Alkan College to help six young women from remote areas in Ethiopia to fulfill their dreams of becoming community nurses.
I am the director of communications and advocacy at IntraHealth International, a nonprofit organization based in North Carolina. We grew out of UNC’s School of Medicine, and have worked in more than 100 countries around the world over the past 30-plus years. Our work centers on empowering health workers—local health workers who support their own communities and countries. An estimated one billion people in the world may never see a health worker in their entire lives. Hard to believe.
Some of them live in Ethiopia. Although it’s not a hot country, Ethiopia is a large one, with mountainous trails and lots of communities that are hard to reach. With a population of more than 86 million, Ethiopia is the second-most populous African nation (after Nigeria)—and the 12th poorest country globally. The country faces challenges in providing health care for its people, especially in rural areas.
In Ethiopia, of 100 babies born today, eight will probably not live to the age of five. And, every year, about 25,000 women still die from because of complications before, during, and after childbirth.
Back to Alkan Health Science College. The institution was created to train nurses and midwives from rural and remote areas, teaching them the skills they need to serve their own communities.
At Alkan, the nursing school scholarships for six students will cost about $5000—and change the lives of six courageous young women—Almaz, Fatuma, Genet, Haymanot, Hawa, and Tsehay—forever. The lives of thousands in six remote Ethiopian communities will be changed.
The scholarships also will put these women on a career path that will allow them to serve their communities and support themselves for the rest of their lives. The nurses are already into the first semester of their three-year program, and through GlobalGiving, we can help ensure that they can stay in school and complete their studies.
Shortages of health providers—and limited infrastructure— make it difficult for many people living in Ethiopia to access basic health services. Well-trained community nurses can make a difference. They can provide basic services, help empower community members to take control of their own health, and refer very sick patients to higher level health facilities. They can save lives.
Female nurses are especially instrumental to helping mothers have safe births and raise healthy children. By providing training for young women who are themselves from rural and remote communities and want to return home after their studies, we can help these communities have access to health care.
IntraHealth has received almost $1000 through GlobalGiving to support the scholarships for six Ethiopian nursing students—but we need an additional $4000 to support the full training of the students, and help their dreams to serve their communities come true.
I look forward to meeting Almaz, Fatuma, Genet, Haymanot, Hawa, and Tsehay next month—and to sharing with you more about their stories.
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