16 February 2016
|The current JRS-JC:HEM, Community Health CLST class of 2016. (Robert Kabale Mbanda, Hugo Hivanove Mpenzi, Joseph Kabila Bahulule/ Dzaleka Refugee Camp)|
|"But now I have a mission, to educate people, to train them to get proper knowledge that will help them and assist the community.”|
Dzaleka, 16 February 2016 - Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) along with Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM), has since 2010, been offering tertiary education in the form of - amongst others - a Diploma in Liberal Studies as well as Community Service Learning Tracks (CSLTs) for refugees in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, in Malawi. The beginning of 2016 has opened an incredible chapter for the tertiary education of young men and women in this part of Dowa. Half of the enrolments to the Community Health CSLT are made of young women! This is indeed a tremendous and noteworthy achievement as the JRS-JC:HEM CSLTs aim to foster community leaders that are truly empowered through education. Young women in particular benefit from this opportunity as they receive both an education as well as a sense of empowerment as they form part of a broader community leadership.
There is an increasing need for members of the community in Dzaleka to participate in improving community health conditions as it relates to first aid skills, food, sanitation and hygiene due to an ever increasing population in the encampment area. The CSLT course is designed to equip young men and women with valuable knowledge and skills in the field of health. Split into two broad parts, theory and practical parts, the Community Health Track is a 9 month course. It consists of 24 weeks or 6 months of classroom/theoretical training and 12 weeks or 3 months of practical training in and for the Dzaleka Community. The course is offered through JRS-JC:HEM, through Seattle University, USA, with Dr. Janet Quillian as the faculty Professor. She designed and wrote this community health course. Her areas of expertise are Primary Health Care, Community Health Nursing, Primary Care Education and Home Health Care HIV/AIDS. Due to the higher number of selected candidates, JRS-JC:HEM had to split the Track into two classes: Class A and Class B. Nestore Buzimba and Aline Bala are the on-site facilitators of the course.
Buzimba is originally from Uvira, in the Southern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Fearing for his life as a result of conflict, this Nurse by profession, left his home country in 2004. He has studied Nursing Sciences at Bukavu College of Nursing, DRC. His colleague, Aline Bala, also from the DRC, is the first female facilitator for JRS-JC:HEM programme in Malawi. Before being forced to a new life in Dzaleka since 2010, she studied Nursing for 5 years at the University of Lubumbashi, Katanga Province, DRC. She, despite living as a refugee at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, has pursued her education further, and is a Child Protection and Participation Alumnus at JRS:JC:HEM.
JRS is making a real difference in the lives of many refugees and forcibly displaced people in Dzaleka. To take a case in point, Gift Thomas, a 20 year old Rwandan man, is one of the current Community Health CSLT students. At the age of 4, he and his family were forced to flee from Butare District, in Rwanda. The aspirant IT programmer finds life at Dzaleka difficult, but the training he occupies his time and energy with has made a positive difference. Gift goes on to explain: “The life of a refugee is difficult because I am not in my country. So, it is very difficult to satisfy my basic needs. But now I have a mission, to educate people, to train them to get proper knowledge that will help them and assist the community.”
Another student, Irambona Swema Gyslaine shares her plans: “I plan on starting a project of sensitising people to know more about health, share knowledge with those who did not get the chance to be part of this programme in order to help change their attitudes toward health and sanitation issues for the better.” Gift Thomas sums up his gratitude: “JRS has helped me a lot by providing me a free education so that I can accomplish my vision of becoming a community first aid provider. I now have a valuable skill to contribute to my community.”
Robert Kabale Mbanda, Hugo Hivanove Mpenzi and Joseph Kabila Bahulule/Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi
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