At the Katoke Lweru Secondary School, we provide clean water and three nutritious meals a day to our students. We also have a full time Nurse (on call 24/7) living on-site at the school.
Caring for 500 students is no simple task. If you consider the task of supplying them with enough water, food and uniforms you start to get a picture of the scale. Regardless of how well we try and look after our boarding students scrapes, aches and illness make a regular appearance and there has to be someone on call to patch, soothe and solve: meet Emelitha Sebikwekwe. Emelitha works around the clock to care for students with a whole gamut of medical needs. She says Monday mornings are always the biggest hustle of the week.
Originally from Tanzania’s centre, Dodoma, Emelitha’s lives at KLSS with her son who is studying in Form 2 (Year 8). Her husband lives in Uganda doing Pastoral studies, and her daughter studies at Bethania Primary School, 30 minutes down the road.
July, 2018 will mark Emelitha’s third year at Katoke. Whilst Tanzania has made impressive progress on development indicators for Health in the past 10 years (the spread of HIV/AIDs, TB and Malaria have been halted and begun to reverse, and life expectancy has increased from 51 to 61 years) maternal mortality, tropical diseases, malnutrition, water access and a lack of health education still affect a huge percentage of the Tanzanian population. It is within this context that Emelitha works, caring for students from very poor backgrounds who cannot afford even a toothbrush or a mosquito net for their beds.
Emelitha’s clinic or ‘sick bay’ is situated in the hub of the administration block, with space for only four small beds. The clinic is open from 7am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, and she also makes herself available to students at 7pm after dinner. She opens the clinic for 3 hours on Saturday mornings, and then uses her precious afternoons off to visit her daughter in Kemondo.
One of Emelitha’s biggest challenges is to deal with dental and ocular health. On a visit to Katoke in March 2017, Doctor Colin Glendinning worked with Emelitha to improve her skills and Dentist Stephen Diakatos checked the teeth of all students in Forms 1 and 2, as well as teachers and staff. More than 40 students, due to malnutrition or incapacity to afford medical treatment, required teeth extractions. Usually, however, Emelitha refers students to a nearby hospital or dentist, where a tooth extraction, filling and anti-inflammatory medicine will cost around TSH 45,000 (AUD $25).
It is critical that we now expand our clinic into a proper infirmary, which can accommodate students overnight, and employ a second school nurse. But we can’t do it without your help! Donate Now to lighten Emelitha’s 24-hour load and help us provide the best possible care for the kids at Katoke.
We are also on the lookout for medical professionals to volunteer with us in Tanzania. To find out more visit our Volunteer page.