Alum Success: Fulfilling medical needs in tourist gorilla trekking area
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2019/02/alum-success-fulfilling-medical-needs-in-tourist-gorilla-trekking-area/
By Patty Huston-Holm
“This will hurt,” the nurse said, preparing to inject a vaccination into the arm of the six-year-old boy. “But it will help you be protected for the rest of your life.”
That boy was Robert Kamugisha, now age 37 and one of the leaders of a nursing school located 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the western Uganda area where he grew up and received that immunization. He has a small injection scar with a memory of how that experience propelled him to his career in medicine.
“Her words made me feel like a part of this at that very young age,” he recalled.
Robert is the academic registrar at the Uganda Nursing School (Bwindi), where students can get a certificate after about 2.5 years and a diploma in about 3 years. Uganda Christian University (UCU) provides the accreditation for the school. UCU’s School of Nursing relationship with the new school in Bwindi is one example of how the university reaches underserved areas.
While westerners know Bwindi best for gorilla trekking in the Impenetrable Forest, East Africans recognize the area’s rural poverty. Behind what most tourists see is the economically and educationally poor Batwa (pigmy) tribe. The Kellerman Foundation, based in Texas, has been instrumental in serving needs of this population.
“Infant mortality is a problem here,” Robert said. That’s the topic of his soon-to-be finished master’s dissertation with UCU, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2013. He got that degree with the assistance of a scholarship from the Uganda Christian University Partners organization.
From practicing nurse to oversight for nurses at Bwindi Community Hospital, Robert’s career climb accelerated to a leadership position for a new school when two gorilla trekkers from the United States agreed to fund the building construction in 2013 Rotary International, through the Rotary Club of Reno, Nevada (USA), and the Rotary Cloub of Kihihi, Uganda, furnished the school.
The first class of 36 graduated in March of2017. Today, there are nearly 300 Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda students studying at the Bwindi facility.
Taking care of people, including nursing students, is second nature to Robert. As the first born of five children, he grew up with the family responsibility for his younger brother and three younger sisters with little financial support for himself.
Robert and his wife, Uwimbabazi Sarah, have two children. A woman from Israel sponsors Sarah’s studies at UCU through UCU Partners.
“At some point, I want to be in a position where I can support someone other than my own family,” Robert said. “Ugandans can and should give back that way.”
If you are interested in supporting students who are making a difference in Uganda such as UCU Partners Scholarship Recipient Robert Kamugisha is, contact Uganda Partners’ Executive Director Mark Bartels firstname.lastname@example.org.
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