The Gretta Foundation
2018 Scholars, Updated November 2018

The Gretta Foundation is pleased to welcome our full cohort of 2018 Scholars. (Names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Diana is the third of six children in her family. Her father repairs scales, and her mother is a traditional herbalist. They were able to support her through primary school, and Diana’s exceptional grades led to a scholarship for secondary school. Having seen the limitations of her mother’s form of care, including women losing their pregnancies, Diana explains, “It has been my dream to become a nurse and perform the proper skills of treating patients.” A Gretta Scholarship is letting her enter nursing school to take the next step toward this dream.

Catherine is the youngest of six children. Her father was killed in the war when she only nine years old. She first became interested in working in healthcare because of her mother’s stories about pregnancy. When pregnant with Catherine, she had suffered a form of paralysis. Although there was a treatment for it, she was unable to afford it, so it went untreated. Influenced by this experience, Catherine became an enrolled comprehensive nurse (a nursing cadre that includes midwifery and pediatrics, among other skills, alongside general nursing, but that does not meet international standards), and has worked tirelessly “to make sure all pregnant women have safe pregnancy, delivery and proper postnatal care services.” As a Gretta Scholar, she will be able to complete an internationally recognized Diploma in Nursing.

Sharon grew up in the shadow of the AIDS epidemic. Her father was a doctor who died of AIDS before she was old enough to remember. Her stepfather also died of AIDS, and her mother had to struggle to raise Sharon and her siblings while living with HIV. An uncle helped with school fees, and Sharon eventually received sponsorship to become an enrolled midwife—inspired by stories her stepfather had told her about how midwives were “small gods who saved lives.” She is eager to complete a full degree. “I want to show my brother and sisters that being a midwife is really God’s call. In my workplace, I would like to change the attitude and behavior of midwives so that maternal mortality is reduced.”

Joseph is the child of a farmer and a taxi driver. Although the father’s income from driving is small (about $57/month), he was able to pay for school uniforms and supplies for his children through primary school (for which tuition is free). After this, Joseph’s older sister, who had received a scholarship for secondary school, was able to advocate for him so that he could receive a scholarship to continue his studies. During the holidays and summer, he helped to pay his way by working for a farm raising maize and plantains. At this secondary school, the senior woman on staff fell very ill one day when no other adults were there. Joseph had to put her on a motorcycle—the only available emergency transport—and take her to hospital, where they stabilized her and she became better. “It left me asking myself what they had really done [to make her better] because she had nearly died in our hands. From that moment, I really started to like nursing.” He received a scholarship to become an enrolled nurse, and has been supporting his now bedridden father, working in a hospital ward that includes the ICU. “…at times they bring critical conditions that are so broad and require an extra knowledge… Many times, I have been stuck… I can [contact] my colleague…from home to help me, and this has really forced me to think of going back for upgrading in order to increase the knowledge and skills to be able to work in the ICU.”

Beatrice never knew her father. Her mother was a nurse who “took good care of us and good care of the community, she made sure we were in school and attained good grades.” Sadly, she became sick and died when Beatrice was only eight. Other family members stepped in to help, including an uncle, her grandfather, and a sister who all made sacrifices to help her complete her secondary schooling. Her sister further helped her to complete her certificate in nursing, and Beatrice sold second-hand shoes to help make ends meet. She has been working in a pediatric clinic for the last four years. “But I have met challenges there that need more skills…managing children with tetanus has not been easy because these need critical care… Children are dying with acute diarrhea and dehydration and they come in shock but because I am limited in knowledge and skills to handle the child has to wait for [a diploma nurse or doctor]…I need to go back to school and get a diploma in nursing such that I can acquire more knowledge and skills on how to handle them when I am alone on the ward…”

Felicia’s father sent her to Uganda for safety amid the violence in South Sudan. Felicia’s younger brother had been murdered by rebels, and the family had already had to flee from village to village for some time, fearing for their lives. A refugee in Uganda, Felicia was supported in her initial schooling, and then worked cooking and washing clothes in rich people’s homes. After a year of this, a benefactor sent her to secure her initial healthcare training. She began work in a government Health Centre that had few patients from the surrounding communities. Seeing that people were not getting the care they needed, she launched outreach efforts, going to villages and communities and teaching about health care, disease control, and prevention. As a result, community use of the Health Centre’s services increased significantly, allowing for better treatment and care. As a Gretta Scholar, Felicia will gain more skills to accompany her initiative and commitment to community health. She writes: “I would love to gain more knowledge and skills to continue serving and helping the sick children and mothers, fathers and relatives hence reducing…morbidity in Uganda, South Sudan and the whole world at large.”

Orphaned at age 10, Joy (from the Acholi tribe) was taken in by an aunt who was able to support her through secondary school. As a young person, she was shocked when she saw a pregnant woman who was in pain be chased out of the hospital by midwife who called the woman “too dirty.” The woman had to give birth in the courtyard in a pool of blood. This made Joy want to be a midwife to be able to care well for pregnant women regardless of their education, tribe, or economic status. She was able to secure an enrolled midwifery certification, and for over two years has been working at a major hospital serving the Gulu District in Northern Uganda. Her Gretta Scholarship will deepen her skills, so that she can bring her compassionate care to more complicated cases.

Sandra was the eighth of 18 children. Her father did not believe in educating girls, but her mother, a traditional healer, worked to raise money for her school fees after the free primary education program. When her mother fell sick and was no longer able to support Sandra’s education, a friend offered to pay Sandra’s fees in exchange for work as a house maid. This allowed her to finish her secondary schooling. A brother helped her to attend nursing school, and Sandra collected and sold firewood to cover the rest of the costs. She has since been working in a hospital, but needs to scale up to a full nursing degree. “I had a dream of continuing with my studies to show my father that even girls can achieve, but I don’t have enough money.” With a Gretta Scholarship, that barrier is removed, and Sandra is a step closer to fulfilling this dream.

Growing up in a family of ten children that could only send one to school, Sister Grace was fortunate to be chosen to receive an education, but still often had to work extra hard—selling jackfruit and bananas in the market, where she was often cheated and beaten. After finishing school, she worked in a quarry with her brother. When he died of a snake bite, she continued to help support his children. Eventually, she secured a scholarship to become an enrolled nurse, and has been working in this capacity. She is eager to complete a full nursing degree: “I am working in a remote area…among poor people whose dear life I love and want to save. I have seen many situations where I need to act urgently to save life and prevent further complications…but I am not competent enough since I lack the skills.”

Angelina’s father had four wives and did not provide for her. An aunt took her in through primary school, but then fell ill. Angelina helped to take care of her. “I used to be around while they were doing all the management and care. Unfortunately, my aunt passed away in the hospital after a month of care.” Angelina went back to her village to try to save for school fees, eventually finishing as a school dependent with some help from her mother. The first time she applied to nursing school, she was not able to afford the fees. The second time, she received a government scholarship to complete her CN–an entry level-nursing certificate that does not meet international standards. Angelina wants to upgrade to a full nursing degree “because CNs are limited at work…certain procedures are not allowed to be done by them. I would also love to gain better communication skills to enable me to bring hope to patients better, as nurses used to do during my aunt’s sickness.”

Moses is from the Moroto District near the Kenyan border. His father died when he was young, and his stepfather was abusive of his mother. Like many children in his community he herded cattle until a disease killed them all, and only then began primary school, where he turned out to be an exceptional student. He won a scholarship through secondary school and then received a scholarship to become an enrolled nurse, returning to work in the health center in the community where he grew up. He notes that there are only five nurses there, and he often has to refer patients to the regional hospital because he is limited in his ability to handle the varied health needs of patients. He is eager to gain the knowledge and skills to better manage diverse health conditions that he would otherwise have to refer to the hospital.

Vivian grew up one of 12 children in a poor agricultural family in Iganga District. Like many of her siblings, she expected to be married off early to reduce expenses on the family, but an older sister took her in and helped her with her education. When the funds ran out, Vivian had to take two years away from school, raising pigs, chickens, and crops. She and her father at one point added brickmaking to their endeavors to raise funds for schooling. She became inspired to be a nurse when her brother had to have three major operations to save his life. She stayed with him during these operations and was so impressed at his survival. Eventually, she was able to complete her certificate as an enrolled nurse, although she had to accrue some debt along the way, since the family’s pigs died in the middle of her nursing studies, leaving her without funds for the fees to finish. She has been working successfully in a hospital, where her willingness to work hard has earned her significant responsibilities in the maternity and neonatal wards. Yet she feels a real need to improve her knowledge and skills. She has not been able to save money, instead paying off her past educational debt. She is grateful that a Gretta Scholarship to complete her Diploma in Nursing will allow her to “improve…skills and knowledge, including communication skills that will enable me to bring hope to mothers and patients in general.”

Simon lost both parents in childhood, three of his four siblings also died. A good Samaritan in the neighborhood took him in and saw to his primary schooling, and then a local priest helped him to continue his education. He received a Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau scholarship to train as an enrolled nurse, and is currently working in a district health center. “The world still needs more health personnel because I am always overwhelmed at the number of the sick who seek medical assistance…” He looks forward to enhancing his skills and completing his Diploma in Nursing with the help of a Gretta Scholarship.