Bongolo’s School of Health began a three-year nurse training course on January 4, 2021, with a record number of 20 new students. The course is a 36-month program of about 3600 hours of combined classroom and practical work. Sandie Freeman, RN, MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) is the school’s director and teaches alongside Amanda Edman, BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and Britta Thrane, BSN. Chelsea, NP (Nurse Practitioner) will be joining the teaching staff in the Spring of 2021.
Of the record number 72 applicants, 61 turned out to take the three timed exams, competing for the 20 open places of the school. With the unexpected arrival of a fourth instructor, the school is able to admit 20 students instead of the normal number of 15.
Typically, there are more applicants coming from Libreville than Bongolo, but now many more are applying from Bongolo: “the landscape of the country is changing,” said Sandie Freeman. Both Libreville and Bongolo host exams. Eighteen people took the half-day-long exams in Libreville and 43 took the exams here at Bongolo. The three sections of the exam (“concours” in French) include Reading, Writing and Math. Following the exams there is a private interview with each applicant. “Their Christian story and witness is a large part of their acceptance into the program,” said Sandie Freeman.
Of the 20 applicants who have been accepted, 19 are Gabonese and one is from Guinea, Conakry. Marthe Mansaré is the incoming nursing student from Guinea. She is also the wife of one of Bongolo’s PAACS surgeons, Dr. Abraham Camara, who is in his second year of the 5-year general surgery residency program at Bongolo Hospital. Marthe and Abraham are the second couple in Bongolo’s history like this – one engaged in training through the PAACS program and the other at the School of Health. Marthe’s dream is to go back to her country of Guinea and to serve alongside her husband at Hope Clinic. Hope is a C&MA hospital that is a light among the people of the majority religion. The first couple that trained together at Bongolo, Dr. Jean and nurse Jacquie Yaradouno, already serve together at Hope Clinic.
“L’École de Santé de l’Hôpital de Bongolo,” Bongolo’s School of Health, not only instructs and trains nurses but also has an 8-week nurses’ aide course and provides continuing education in specific services for the nurses currently serving at Bongolo. Those services include neonatal resuscitation, pediatric resuscitation, and a review of wound care/sterile dressing change. The School of Health plays a vital role in keeping Bongolo Hospital running with professional care and excellence. Many graduates stay at Bongolo Hospital and work as nurses on staff. Two graduates from the last session have gone on to receive more training at Bongolo to become midwives, or in French, “sages-femmes.”
Please pray for the students and instructors who have just begun the intensive 3-year training of nurses on January 4, 2021.
Written by Alace Straw, Photography by Ulrich Ilema