In September 2019, Diane Switzer, DNP, ARNP, FAEN, an assistant clinical professor in SU’s College of Nursing, visited the Monze Mission Hospital, a district general hospital located 17 miles from Chikuni Mission in Zambia, Africa and the Monze School of Nursing & Midwifery, to explore the possibility of establishing an international practicum program for SU’s graduate nursing students. Upon her return, Diane shared with PWOB Zambia Team Leader Debbie Black photos she’d taken of the four dilapidated “ablution blocks” used by students in the nursing school. These washroom spaces contained showers, sinks, toilets and wash basins.
To say the ablution blocks “needed some love” is more than an understatement. The plumbing was dilapidated and barely any water dripped from sink faucets and shower heads. Most of the sinks were not connected to running water. Hoses ran from sink faucets to a large barrel of standing water. This water was also used to flush toilets that occasionally worked, but mostly overflowed, flooding the washroom floor and adjoining hallway. Floor and shower tiles were crumbling, and it was hard to tell if any of the showers worked, as the fixtures were so rusted. These ablution blocks serve 216 nursing students.
PWOB agreed to take on the refurbishment of one ablution block as a service project in the 2021-2022 academic year, despite our inability to travel to Zambia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Monze Hospital identified and vetted a reliable local contractor for the project, EPHIDE Construction, which provided an acceptable quote for the work.
Bert Otten, S.J., a former faculty member in SU’s College of Science and Engineering who now resides in Chikuni Mission, agreed to partner with PWOB, making weekly trips to the nursing school to oversee progress. He held several meetings with EPHIDE representative Joseph Chama and Joyce Mulenga to discuss issues and offer ideas. He reported back to PWOB weekly. PWOB also remained in direct contact with Joyce, who shared photos taken throughout the project.