Everlyne Amulen receives her academic award after achieving a GPA of 4.91
What lengths would you go to pursue higher education? Evelyne Amulen, a midwifery graduate at Aga Khan University, would respond to that question with a resounding ‘By any means possible!’
When Evelyne joined the undergraduate midwifery programme at AKU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery (SONAM) in Uganda, she had mixed feelings. She was excited, yet worried about how she would manage work and school. She was working as a Maternal and Newborn Health (MNH) officer at a local NGO in Karamoja, nearly 600 kilometres from the SONAM campus in Kampala.
“I did not want to lose my job because it was my major source of income. I had a family to take care of and as much as I really wanted to join AKU, I was anxious about it,” she said.
Getting to the SONAM campus twice a week was a challenge, it wasn’t a direct route. She would take a motorcycle popularly known as boda boda, from Nakakapiripit to Sironko districts, then get a taxi to Mbale district – a journey that would take her approximately three hours.
“If I didn’t get a boda boda, I would risk hiking a lift from trucks that carry marble stones. There was no space for me inside the vehicle so I would hang on for dear life. From Mbale, I would take a bus to Kampala, a journey that lasted another 12-14 hours. The road between home and Mbale was horrible, due to this I suffered a miscarriage in my second year.”
You would expect that such a tragedy would stop Evelyne from going on with her studies. However, her resilience and the support she received from her classmates, SONAM faculty and staff kept her going.
“When I resumed school after my miscarriage, I got into another accident when I fell of a boda boda. I got severe burns from the exhaust pipe which made walking a struggle for a few weeks. Hope came when I conceived a second time and the pregnancy this time stayed to full term.”
She calls her now seven-month old son Elisha a miracle baby. As she holds her degree in one hand and Elisha on the other, she remembers the days she would carry her baby to school because it was costly to travel with her nanny.
“SONAM staff say Elisha is an AKU baby. They would take turns to take care of him while I was in class. I wouldn’t have gotten good grades if it wasn’t for the support of my husband, sister, workmates, faculty and staff at SONAM Uganda.”
Evelyne is also grateful for the partial scholarship she received from AKU which took care of her tuition fees and left her salary to fund her transport to campus and personal expenses.
Looking back, does she regret anything?
“I don’t regret pursuing my midwifery degree even in the midst of challenges. At AKU, I had the opportunity to learn things beyond routine clinical practice. I learnt how to think outside the box, leadership and entrepreneurial skills.”
“In future, I want to pursue a master’s programme in midwifery. I also look forward to establishing a centre of excellence for maternal and newborn health services.”