Jonas Center Spotlight

Jonas Nursing Scholar Success: The Power of a Rose to End Child Sacrifice in Uganda

With her back against the wall, forced to leave her village by her own family, a then-17 year old Rose Nanyonga took her childhood misfortunes and turned them into groundbreaking triumphs that have touched the lives of not only the nursing community, but the world. Nanyonga, BSN, MSN, a Jonas Scholar on her way to earning her PhD from Yale University, was motivated to study nursing after losing her mother in childbirth due to the limited access to health facilities in Uganda.

 Nanyonga’s area of research interest is HIV/AIDS; specifically strategies to improve access and quality of care for people living with HIV/AIDS in resource limited settings. Some of her studies include identifying policy strategies or gaps to increase access to HIV medications and interventions, and examining the linkages between global and domestic policies and their influence on the preparation and capacity of the health workforce to meet national health priorities.

 Following a tough childhood where she was forced to practice witchcraft, involving child sacrifice, Nanyonga made the brave choice to leave her family and walked 32 miles to Kiwoko Hospital where she met Dr. Ian and Robbie Clarke, who provided her with a new life and new beginnings. In 2009, Nanyonga established Rose’s Journey, where she revisited her 32-mile journey from her home village to Kiwoko.

 Since then, Nanyonga has celebrated this walk with hundreds of supporters and ambassadors for Rose’s Journey with three main goals: 1) Raise awareness to help end child sacrifice; 2) Funding to provide scholarships to nursing students at International Health Sciences University; and 3) Funding to sponsor free medical care in the Hope Ward of International Hospital Kampala in Uganda.

 When we asked Nanyonga about the connection between nursing and Rose’s Journey, she said, “Two slogans that have been at the core of Rose’s Journey are ‘Hope, Heal, Empower’ and ‘Love is a way of saying to one another, it is good that you exist, it is good that you are in the world.’ I don’t know of many other professions that embody these elements as well as nursing does.”

 “When I am involved in the illness experience with the patient, I feel strongly that my role is to be able to provide an experience through which the patient encounters and embraces hope, healing, and a sense of empowerment.  The nursing profession has done that for me, and Rose’s Journey is an outlet that further demonstrates those values,” she added.

 Nanyonga’s past has allowed her to remain close to her roots in Uganda. She currently serves as a Member on the Board of Directors at International Medical Group, Uganda (IMG) and is concerned with the overall strategic management of IMG. She also continues to be at the forefront of developing nursing leadership. The scholarship funds raised by Rose’s Journey help address the dire need for nursing leadership capacity, especially in low-income countries.

As Nanyonga so eloquently stated, “[The Clarkes’] provided the first scholarship for me to pursue nursing. The Rose’s Journey Scholarship Fund is part of the story that recognizes so many other ‘Roses’ who desperately need someone, the way I did in 1989. My experience with the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence has inspired me and cemented that resolve…I feel that my role, as a recipient of such a privilege, is to be able to represent the ethos of what the Jonases are trying to do. They have made it possible for me to have the tools I need in my journey to becoming a nursing leader, and for that I am forever grateful.”

This year’s walk is scheduled to take place on August 24, 2013 in Uganda. Nanyonga is also working towards a petition urging the Government of Uganda to draft and enact legislation that specifically addresses the practice of and crimes related to child sacrifice. Her goal is one million signatures by July 2014; so click here for your chance to become an ambassador for Nanyonga and all of the other ‘Roses.’ Read all about Rose’s Journey here.

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