Student Profile: Sick mom inspires 19-year-old toward career in medicine

Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2019/01/school-of-medicine-student-profile-sick-mom-inspires-19-year-old-toward-career-in-medicine/

Jan
10
Ninsiima Prize with her mother, brother and author of this article (Uganda Partners photo)

(NOTE:  In September 2018, Uganda Christian University launched a School of Medicine with 60 students. To “put a face” on Uganda’s future doctors and dentists, seven of these students were interviewed at the completion of the first semester. This is a snapshot story of the first of these seven.)

 By Patty Huston-Holm
Her father died four months before she was born to an HIV-positive mother.  She was raised in the rural area of Kabale, Uganda, by a grandmother. The grandmother died and she moved back with her extremely ill mother and two older brothers in Kampala, Uganda.

Except for stellar grades in high school, the cards seemed stacked against Ninsiima Prize continuing her education to the university level.

 Her childhood dream of being a doctor – one she acted out by wearing a white coat while her girlfriends pretended to be mothers or teachers – diminished. After finishing secondary school in November 2017, she kept busy singing in the church choir and even with a youth production at the Uganda National Cultural Arts Centre, learning to play the guitar.

 “I did a solo,” she said of her vocals at the centre while pulling it up on her phone. “The song was ‘Say Something, I’m giving up on you.’ The words have a lot of meaning to me.”

 That was her life until the morning she picked up a copy of New Vision newspaper and read about Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) School of Medicine. Knowing she didn’t have money, she applied anyway and got in – one of 60 students at the new medical school.

 Then, she heard about a non-profit, Muhairwe Education Trust, whereby Ugandan professionals contribute parts of their salaries to support students.  She applied and got a portion of her tuition, but not full costs and not her room and board.

 “There are many times that my mother is in pain and asks me to take it away,” Prize said. “I think about if I could do that for her and for others. And I’ve been to hospitals where they take blood and do nothing else and where we get medicine but not enough, and the workers don’t seem to care about the patients.”

 For Prize, age 19, the new world of medicine is fascinating. Early in the first semester, she learned about iron deficiencies and hemoglobin and observed a cadaver dissection. Among textbook studies, lectures and practicums, she gets five hours of sleep each night. 

 Regarding her academic achievement and financial needs, she says she is “leaving it to God.” While seeking, she focuses on Philippians 4:11 that states “whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content.”  

The words of her “Say Something” solo song (“I’ll be the one if you want me to…I’m just starting to crawl”) from earlier this year has even more meaning now as she thinks of her mom, Ugandans who already believe in her and possible donors out there to fill in the gaps for her and other students. She’s singing and praying for help.

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More information about the Uganda Christian University School of Medicine can be obtained at https://www.ugandapartners.org/priority-projects.  To support students, books and facilities at the medical school, contact Mark Bartels, executive director, UCU Partners, at m.t.bartels@ugandapartners.org or https://www.ugandapartners.org/donate/.

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