{ALUMNI TODAY} at Roberts

Healthy Hawks: Dr. Wayne and Dr. Darlene McCown
Retired and Going South

By Dr.Darlene McCown

p39_01.jpgVIOLET, A Nursing Student Like other retirees, Wayne and I are snowbirds: We go south in the winter … all the way to the equator! We have spent several months each of the past seven years at Hope Africa University, a Free Methodist liberal arts university in Bujumbura, Burundi.  This university  has a formal “sister school” partnership with Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary.

Burundi is one of the three poorest countries in the world, desperately in need of qualified nurses and doctors.

In our first years at Hope Africa University, I served as the director of nursing and began the school’s first nursing class, with 11 students (nine males and two females). Among the class were two pastors, a community health clinic owner/operator, a teacher and a veterinarian. All of them spoke French and knew only a few words of English. By the time they graduated four years later, all of them were speaking English and I had learned a few words of French!

In 2008, I developed plans for a nursing skills laboratory and it was completed by the next year. This skills laboratory is a model for the country and has been visited by the president. (He shook my hand!) It is equipped with microscopes, baby scales and a Resusci Anne. It includes stethoscopes and blood-pressure cuffs, opthalmoscopes and reflex hammers, and other resources for teaching nursing and medical students. The majority of the equipment was obtained from agencies located in Rochester. Special thanks go to InterVol and Ward Scientific, as well as the Roberts Wesleyan School of Nursing, for their generosity.

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Darlene with RESUCISTATION ANNIE  and Nursing Students ERIC Examining Eye of Fellow Student

Another local group, The Ross Foundation, granted funds to assist in building a hospital/ clinic on the campus to serve the people of Bujumbura and to assist in the training of the nursing and medical students at the university.

Over the years, I have also collected more than 300 watches from friends and churches, and have delivered them each year to the new class of nursing students for their professional use. Thanks to all who have contributed watches.

Recognizing the need for nursing educators and leaders in central Africa, in 2010, I launched a Masters of Nursing at Hope Africa University; the first class of students graduated in December 2012. These graduates are now the leaders of nursing in their country. They are serving as chief of nursing and clinical faculty at Hope Africa University, interim director of public health, faculty in the government nursing program, owner/operator of a private health clinic, chief of nursing for the Van Norman Hospital/ Clinic on campus and chief of nursing for the up-country Kibuye Hope Hospital (both part of Hope Africa University).

On March 14, 2014, I was privileged to present the Hope Africa University Masters of Nursing in Education and Leadership program to the Burundian government committee on accreditation. The reviewers approved it as the first and only Masters of Nursing program in the nation. In the local African language of Kirundi, there is a saying: “The birds are talking.” The “birds” are now saying that Hope Africa University has the best nursing program in the nation! We thank God for His grace and power in making this accomplishment possible for the people of central Africa.

p39_04.jpgHope Africa University has grown from 75 students in 2003 to a robust student body of more than 6,000 in 2014. God has blessed the vision of founding Rector Elie Buconyori and the U.S. Friends of Hope Africa University board, of which Wayne is now serving as president. It is my greatest professional joy to be involved in the development of the nursing program and to see my students take their places as the leaders of nursing in central Africa.

(photo) Nursing Class of 2012.