In Memory Of Gertrude

One of my favorite shots – children swinging on the gate at the entrance to the Tukuyu School of Nursing

Dear friends,

We hope that you are all enjoying these beautiful summer months.

This fall we will be sponsoring 39 students after the recent graduation of 18 registered nurses/midwives. When they pass the national exams at the end of the summer, they will earn the dual designation of Registered Nurse/Registered Midwife, however it will be several months before they know the results of their examinations. Our students are studying very hard and are very nervous and ask that we all keep them in our thoughts. They have been studying diligently for three years and we are so excited to see them starting a new phase of their lives. Finishing school with a profession is the culmination of many dreams and the end to years of stress and uncertainty.

Upon starting employment, the newly designated registered nurses are able to provide financial assistance to their families, such as paying school fees for siblings. Some graduates will apply for government positions and others will apply in the private sector. Their starting salary as a registered nurse is approximately $350 a month. In contrast, the annual cash income for a rural family is about $300.

Unfortunately, life sometimes intervenes and this cycle of giving back to the family is interrupted. We were recently informed that Gertrude Joseph, a 2015 graduate of Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, died in childbirth. We received the following email from her former instructors:

“Did you heard that Getrude Joseph (graduate 2015 of TNSP) passed away on Monday at Muhimbili National Hospital? She was pregnant and unfortunately the fetus died. After delivery she got an emergency condition- Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation. It is very sad to hear maternal death of our new nurse.”

Gertrude Joseph, February 2013

Gertrude was of the Ha tribe from the Kigoma region of Tanzania. The Kigoma region contains several very extensive refugee camps with refugees from Congo, Burundi and Rwanda.

When Gertrude applied for sponsorship of her studies, she told us that her father died of AIDS and her mother was HIV positive. She was the first born in her family and had two younger siblings, a sister and a brother. Gertrude very keenly felt the impact of AIDS in her family and community.  In her own words:

“I need to become a nurse because I need to tell people to protect their self about HIV/AIDS. Because the factor which has caused me to have no happiness in my life is the HIV which was the cause of my Father’s death.  And my goals after completing the nursing course is to give loving and good care the patient especially those who have been affected with HIV.”

Gertrude also saw the benefits to her family when she completed her nursing studies and became financially independent.

“First I will be able to help my young brother and sister to continue with their studies. Also if God wishes I will be able to help my Mother to live in good care and condition by giving her the basic needs, and I will be able to make sure my Mother eats balanced diet so as to reduce the speed of the infection so as she can live for a long time.”

The loving and caring attitude Gertrude expressed towards her community and family is a very common thread among the young women we sponsor. Gertrude touched many lives. We were glad to have been part of that journey and feel a great sadness at her loss. Her death is, of course, a great loss for her family and extinguishes the opportunity for support to her mother and siblings.

Gertrude’s death underscores the high maternal and infant death rates in Tanzania. The infant mortality rate is 42.43/1000 births (USA is 5.87/1000 births). The maternal death rate is 3.98/1000 pregnancies (USA is 0.14/1000 pregnancies). Major contributors to the difference in the quoted statistics are due to the fact that only 51% of births are assisted by a trained birth attendant. These disturbing statistics are one reason we support students attending nursing programs in which graduates also become registered midwives.Two students we formerly sponsored currently work as nurses/midwives at a refugee camp approximately one hour from Gertrude’s family. They have agreed to visit Gertrude’s family to see how they are coping with their loss and convey our condolences. We will share an update with you in our next newsletter.

Our sponsored students express their thanks for your support of their studies.

Linda van Werkhooven, President


I would like to share with you a summary of our annual report filed with the Charities Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office:

Tanzania Nursing Scholarship Program, Inc.
Revenue and Expenses 7/1/2015 – 6/30/2016
Revenue (contributions, grants etc.) 40,277.06
Program Services (tuition fees, money for meals, pocket money) 34,044.30
Expenses (primarily fund transfer expenses) 439.05
Balance (for commitments to current students) 5,793.71
Our reported expenses relate primarily to wire transfer fees for sending money to Tanzania. Our reported expenses are 1.1% of revenue. The reported revenue includes the second and last tranche of $17,500 of a grant from Dining for Women. Our reported expenses exclude those expenses treated as personal, such as travel expenses and student entertainment expenses. I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have.
Respectfully submitted,



Tony van Werkhooven, Treasurer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.