How I Fell in Love with the Sisters and Students at St. Joseph’s

Last month, I met the Little Sisters of St. Francis and many of their students at St. Joseph’s Kamuli School of Midwifery in the rural Kamuli District of Uganda. This convent, hospital, and school is now celebrating 100 years of service.

CapacityPlus is helping the school achieve a decades-long goal: to provide a high-quality education leading to a diploma in midwifery to young women from the region.

It was easy to fall in love with the students and faculty at St. Joseph’s. Their eagerness to serve the women of their community is summed up in the school motto: “The Patient Is My Profession.”

student wearing shirt with school motto

Both the students and the sisters seem to live that motto. In fact, one sister has been living in the convent and practicing midwifery at the nearby Mission Hospital for 60 years. When I asked why she had remained for so long, she couldn’t help smiling.

“It is the children,” she said. “I love them.”

During a practical learning session for final-year midwifery students, a client arrived and agreed to allow the students to learn from her. One student assessed this woman under the guidance of a tutor. It’s through such guided assessments that students acquire the skills they will need in their future careers as midwives.

student assessing client

The student ably presented her findings to the class. Trying to subdue a smile, she announced that the woman was in active labor. This was a surprise to the client as well as to the class!

The students happily reported to me the following morning that the client delivered a healthy baby boy a few hours later. The mother was attended in her delivery by the sisters and the students of St. Joseph’s.

Someone important to me once told me that the work we do in international development and health is “depressing.” But I disagree. To me, working in this field—and especially being allowed to visit the health workers we support—is uplifting. Even exhilarating.

St. Joseph’s has been training certificate-level nurses and midwives for decades, but wants to offer a diploma-level education to meet the needs of the surrounding community. Capacity
Plus is training instructors and tutors on the new curriculum, coordinating with the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council to ensure the new midwifery program is accredited, supplying textbooks and equipment required by the council for the upgrade, and advocating with the diocese in Jinja for the change.

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Photos by Heather Ross (student wearing a shirt with school motto and student assessing her patient while her tutor and classmates observe)