The Tenta woreda, or district, does not look far from the Alkan Health Science College campus in Dessie on a map. For a bird, the flight would not be more than 30 kilometers.
But Ethiopia is one of the most mountainous countries in the world. The precarious roads in Tenta's Amhara region twist and turn as plateaus give way to steep valleys. The route from Tenta to Dessie is over 125 miles and can take over one day using public transportation.
Mothers with sick children in Tenta do not want to travel on these roads in order to see health worker. They would rather see a well-trained nurse right in their own community.
This is why Almaz B. wants to become a community nurse. With a name that means "diamond" in Amharic, Almaz is from the Tenta woreda and heard about our scholarship opportunity on the local FM radio. After applying for the scholarship and then passing an entry exam, she was accepted to the 36-month diploma nursing program.
The same is true for the five other nurses who have been accepted to our community nursing scholarship program: Fatuma M. from the Albuko woreda, Genet A. from the Yeju Genet woreda, Hawa I. and Haymanot A. from the Afar region, and Tsehaynesh A. from the Marye woreda.
Rather than requiring families to climb those mountainous roads each time someone is ill, these women will take the trip to Dessie for their nursing training. They have all committed to returning to their communities for at least 3 years after graduating. When they return to their respective woredas as diploma nurses, they will be considered the diamonds in their communities more than ever before. They will know the local dialects and practices to provide culturally competent care to prevent and treat basic diseases. The presence of these six nurses alone will increase their woreda's access to primary health care.
To our "diamonds in the rough", Almaz, Fatuma, Genet, Hawa, Haymanot, and Tshaynesh: We wish you luck as you embark on your nursing studies!
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Deputy Director, CapacityPlus