Milka Gatungoh: The dedicated school nurse | Aga Khan Academies

Milka Gatungoh: The dedicated school nurse

When Milka Gatungoh joined the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa in 2010 as the residential school nurse, she knew her experience was going to be exciting and fulfilling. Her main role has been to address the physical, mental, emotional and social health needs of all school members, especially of students, to ensure their success in the learning process.

In the 10 years she’s been with the Academy, Milka’s favourite parts about the school is the pluralistic community, its culture of giving back to others in society, as well as the positive work environment that enables one to grow professionally.

“The cultural diversity and involvement in community service, which provides us with the opportunity to help others in a very special way, are my favourite things about the Academy,” Milka said. “There is also a lot of potential for one to nurture their career if they know what they want to achieve in life.”

As a little girl, Milka never liked to see anyone in any kind of pain so she always made sure to reach out to help. As the residential school nurse, she continues to be compassionate and empathetic when caring for students because she feels it makes a huge difference to understand what they’re going through in order to offer the necessary support.

“I always have to engage with students emotionally because sometimes their physical pains are caused by emotional distress, also known as psychosomatic illnesses," Milka stated. "Offering emotional support is sometimes the only remedy they need and not necessarily painkillers."

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Milka said her role changed drastically, which has been rather challenging, but has gotten better with time. Being on the frontline, she has had to work extra hard to educate people on the virus, demystify the myths, fight any stigma and ensure all necessary protocols are followed for the safety of all school members.

“I have had to emphasise on the importance of people observing the World Health Organization safety measures regarding the virus, which was a little difficult initially as the reality of COVID-19 had not hit most of the students and staff,” Milka said. “As a caregiver on active duty, I also faced a little stigma because people thought of me as a risk factor for contracting the virus. Additionally, I’ve had some people express concern about visiting the health and wellness centre at the Academy for fear of being subjected to a COVID-19 test, especially when they have cold symptoms. Despite all these challenges, I’m glad I have been able to offer support and care.”

To further help spread positivity during the pandemic, Milka has been providing psychosocial support for students through virtual seminars by encouraging them to develop a caring attitude and helping them cope with any fear or anxiety they may have.

For Milka, the most rewarding part of her job is seeing the students she nurtures live healthy lives and succeed in their school life. As she continues to do what she loves the most, which is being of service to others, Milka said the fulfillment of her purpose in life is guided by a set of first aid goals, which are, to preserve life, prevent further injury and promote recovery.

“Whenever I’m attending to anyone, I am keen to ensure that I stick to these goals, which have become my motto in life,” Milka said.