The Mafunzo Project Story
Learn more about Dr Emily Isham and why
she started The Mafunzo Project.
Emily Isham is a doctor, currently working and living in Tasmania, Australia, with her husband Seth, and 2-year-old daughter Lucy. She grew up in Bukavu, the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), the daughter of missionary parents, for nearly 10 years. Leaving Congo in 1996 (mostly due to the ongoing civil war and associated violence), Emily struggled immensely with ‘deserting’ her Congolese friends, and, after witnessing war-related atrocities and the poor health care available to local Congolese and refugees, vowed to return as a doctor one day.
Having maintained contact with many Congolese friends through her university years, Emily became more aware of the enormous difficulties they faced to even just complete high school and study at a tertiary level – as a result of ongoing education department strikes, evacuations and financial pressures. This was in stark contrast to being able to easily study medicine with many other students at The University of Melbourne, while the government provides a loan to cover university fees.
In 2010, Mission Travel Group (a travel agency in Melbourne) offered some financial grants, for which Emily applied and was awarded one. The idea for this $10,000 grant was to collaborate with Panzi Hospital and its associated university in Eastern Congo, and develop a new initiative – one that allows Australians to financially support, and thus empower, Congolese students throughout their medical and nursing studies. The long-term aim is to help restore Congo by strengthening and building up its professional healthcare body.
Emily recently travelled to Bukavu, DR Congo, to establish the Project, visit Panzi Hospital and the nursing and medical schools, meet various directors and managers, appoint a local committee, and meet with struggling Congolese medical and nursing students.
For more detailed information, please visit our blog.