Sancta Maria College of Nursing and Midwifery
Partner | IBVM Community of Southern Africa
Location | Lukulu, Zambia
In 2020, the Loreto Sisters were invited by the Bishop to take on the role of Managing Agent for the development of the College of Nursing and Midwifery on the old Mission Hospital site in Lukulu. By September of that year, Sister Pat Hanvey and her team, with MWIA support, began construction of the college, repairing the existing, unused buildings of the former hospital.
Thanks to the very generous support of the Noel and Carmel O’Brien Family Foundation in early 2021, further work was undertaken comprising the construction and furnishing of two 20-room dormitories with the capacity to accommodate 80 students in each; the repair of three houses for senior academic staff; bus transport for students to complete the practical component of their studies at the local hospital; and roof repairs of existing buildings. By July 2021, the college was operational with an initial intake of 60 students.
The Loreto Sisters are now preparing for the next phase of this initiative – the construction of a third dormitory and extra classrooms to meet the intake of an additional 60 new first-year students in July 2023.
Lukulu is situated in the remote, impoverished province of Western Zambia, with minimal access to health facilities, schools, clean water and sanitation. Consisting of many scattered rural village communities over vast expanses, Lukulu and its surrounds can only be accessed via a long and poorly maintained dirt road taking many hours.
An environment of hopelessness perpetuates among young people. It manifests through significant dropout rates from school, teenage pregnancies, sex work, alcohol and drug problems, and the confinement of young girls to village life with no apparent future. Without education, local youth are unable to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.
Having a nursing and midwifery college that recruits students predominantly from the local area with deep, established family connections and a familiarity with the adverse living conditions means that qualified nurses graduating from the college will be more inclined to stay and work in the region. Ultimately, this will result in more stable and skilled staff delivering quality health services in these marginalised areas of the country.
Since opening in 2021, the college has already and will continue to, promote much-needed future economic development by creating a hub for health education and encouraging complementary business and health clinics to establish themselves in the region.
The construction of this new dormitory at the college will provide more young people with an opportunity for tertiary and professional training that would otherwise be inaccessible to them in this remote and underdeveloped area of Zambia. Priority is given to the recruitment of female students to ensure greater equality in terms of opportunities afforded to girls within the local community.
The new phase of construction will safeguard the long-term future of the college. Building on the works to date, it will ensure the college is fit for purpose through the construction of a new 20-room dormitory and extra classrooms to meet the intake of 60 new first-year students in mid-2023. Included in this phase of the project is the construction of fencing around the dormitories to ensure student privacy and security.