Women are central to Doctors with Africa CUAMM’s commitment to health, and they are also on the front lines of acting for change. Women are 55% of the expatriate human resources of Doctors with Africa CUAMM; European and African professional women are working at the forefront in the fight against maternal mortality, as well as against malnutrition, HIV, and non-communicable diseases. They manage projects, mediate with local authorities, decide how to use funds, and often are balancing work and raising children as well.
For Women’s Day, Doctors with Africa CUAMM is spotlighting two stories from the field: Inocencia Fumo, a Mozambican doctor, and Martha Nyabel, a South Sudanese project manager.
“If we study, we can be what we want”
Inocencia Fumo is 36 years old, comes from Nampula, in the north of Mozambique, but has lived in Beira for sixteen years, where she was able to study medicine thanks to a scholarship. She says that being a woman helped her get the scholarship, but then as a young doctor she had to deal with the distrust of some patients, especially older men, who were not used to being treated by a young woman doctor. Years and experience solved this problem. Now she has three daughters and works with Doctors with Africa CUAMM managing a project to fight diabetes and hypertension. She sees education as the key:
“I always tell my three daughters that the important thing is that they go to school: everything starts from there. If we are educated, we women can go where we want, do and be what we want. When they don’t feel like going to school, I show them that I go to work even when I don’t feel like it, because now I’m doing what I studied for, what I’ve always wanted to do. I’d like them to become strong women, with positive attitudes, who are not afraid to follow their dreams and not afraid to fall down. Because by falling down we can get up again and keep going. It was my father who first encouraged me to study. There weren’t many fathers who thought like him, but I was the first in the family to graduate, and then he graduated too and now he’s a lawyer, and my mother, who studied mathematics, also graduated.”
“My personal success”
Martha Nyabel, a South Sudanese woman from the state of Jonglei, worked for three years in Nyal, an extremely rural area of South Sudan, where Doctors with Africa CUAMM implemented an emergency project for refugees fleeing conflict and hunger. She has dedicated herself to bringing health services to the furthest outposts, succeeding in building an emergency operating room and coordinating several mobile clinics. Patience and perseverance are her key qualities, as she says:
“This project has improved the lives of many people. It is a true joy for the community and for me too. I experience it as a personal success. These were three intense years: the first year was really extreme. Sometimes I found myself thinking, “What the hell am I doing here?” and also “Be patient, wait.” Now I can see all these smiles on people’s faces because of our efforts. I worked hard to complete this project, so now I’m happy!”