I have finished making the long trek from Birmingham to Lilongwe, Malawi via Atlanta and Johannesburg to work with faculty at Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) at the University of Malawi. I left Friday, January 31 and arrived around noon on Sunday February 2. (If you are thinking…wow that seems long! Yes, in fact, very long!) But I am here, getting settled and ready to continue this journey.
Why Malawi? In 2008 I made my first trip to Malawi to visit and stay at Mtendere Village, an orphanage near Lilongwe. I came to explore ways that I could assist in bringing teams of medical professionals to work at Blessings Hospital, a small hospital near Mtendere Village. Unfortunately my trip was cut short due to a family situation. At that time and for several years after, I felt as though my work was not done in Malawi, little did I know what was in store for me.
Fast forward several years…a little over two years ago we had a visitor at the UAB School of Nursing, Dr. Address Malata, Principal of Kamuzu College of Nursing in Malawi. During her visit to the U.S. we were able to connect and begin a dialogue about oncology and palliative care needs at KCN. In Feb 2013, I, along with several colleagues, visited KCN as well as other facilities to begin identifying what oncology and palliative care needs they have in Malawi. While these activities were going on, I searched for a way (funding) that would give me an opportunity to make this happen. I wanted to be able to educate nurses about oncology in a lasting and meaningful way. Fortunately, I applied and was accepted to the Fulbright Specialist Roster, which is a scholarship that allows faculty to work with other faculty across the globe. I will be working with faculty at KCN by reviewing their curriculum and integrating oncology content throughout their program. I will also be lecturing at two campuses, four hours apart, to faculty, undergraduate and graduate students about the principles of oncology nursing and so much more.