The Murgwanza Story

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First Intake of students to Murgwanza Nursing School

Because of Murgwanza’s remoteness, it is difficult to recruit and retain staff. Morale is low and there are high levels of burnout. Murgwanza is not alone in this problem. Throughout Tanzania, the shortage of health staff, including a 70% shortfall of nurses, has resulted in widespread closure of village dispensaries, a decline in the quality of healthcare and an increase in the incidence and mortality of preventable diseases. The Tanzanian Government has begun a long journey to improve healthcare through its national strategy for growth and poverty elimination.

MMA has had significant involvement with the village of Murgwanza in rural Tanzania for several years. To the people in this remote village, the three letters ‘MMA’ represent hope and God’s abundant grace in an environment that is struggling to survive the effects of severe poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. But there is a severe shortage of medically trained staff. Through the enthusiasm of  Drs Amanda Thompson and Simone Martin (then medical students) the Murgwanza Hospital Scholarship Program was commenced late in 2007and within 6 months two clinical officers had commenced their training in Mwanza, Tanzania’s largest inland town and a ten hour drive from Murgwanza. The two students were selected by the bishop and hospital secretary after successful completion of secondary school.

Clinical officers ease the burden on doctors by servicing the outpatients department and treating patients with basic and common conditions. The training to become a clinical officer is a three-year course, at an annual cost of AU$1500 per student.  When a student receives a tertiary education, they are given an opportunity to break free of the cycle of poverty and establish a future for not only themselves, but also their family and the community, as well as increasing the delivery of healthcare to this region. The project’s aim is to train six clinical officers over the next six years, a feat requiring donations totalling $27,000.

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Drs Amanda Thompson and Simone Langford with theatre staff at Murgwanza

The nursing situation is more complex but with financial support through fundraising, the Murgwanza School of Nursing opened in September 2008 and fulfilled a long-held vision of hospital staff and church authorities. The first intake of 40 students had to endure old, partly renovated buildings, outdated books and a shortage of teaching staff, but spirits were high with the opening of the school.  MMA is supporting 8 students at a cost of AUD 8000 per year.

What does a scholarship mean to a student?

The prospect of completing a tertiary education is a concept which is often beyond the means of local students, partly because of lack of tertiary training institutions in the Ngara district but also financially. Without further education the options for employment are minimal and students who successfully complete their secondary education often find themselves left with little hope of building a future.

murg002A tertiary education provides an opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty and establish a future for themselves, their family and the community.

Those who complete a course in one of the health fields will increase the delivery of healthcare in a country that is suffering from a 70% shortfall of nurses


Dr Amanda Thompson, back working in the hospital at the time, wrote:

murg003“The nursing students have been doing clinical placements … They are so enthusiastic, and with such a shortage of nurses in the hospital, there is a buzz of excitement as the staff realise that there will be easier times ahead”.

The second intake of students began in September 2009 and further renovations, extra furniture and up-to-date teaching equipment were needed. In faith that God would provide the money, renovations were begun, furniture and books ordered and students accepted. $38,000 was needed to cover all expenses, and this has now been provided – with thanks to our Lord and to two bequest donors who remembered MMA in their wills.

To retain registration, the school must also recruit more trained staff. Perhaps someone reading this will hear God’s call and respond.

Brochures about the scholarship program are available by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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Dr Amanda Thompson with Murgwanza Nursing School students