A Congolese doctor helps her own people

Cathy Mufungizi of the Democratic Republic of Congo knew very early what she wanted to do in life.

“Even when I was a little girl I was touched by anyone or anything I saw suffering. I used to think about what I could learn to do to help suffering people. So I decided that when I grew up I was going to be a doctor.”

Unfortunately, her dream looked hopeless when her father died. Mufungizi was just 12 years old. Her mother told her to study “something practical” so that when she finished high school she could get a job and help support the family. So she studied commerce, graduating at the head of her class. A neighbor gave her $40 to take a computer crash course to help her chances of employment.

Fortunately, Mufungizi’s dream had not died yet. Realizing her opportunity, she took the money and paid $5 to register for university. She paid the remaining $35 as an advance on her tuition. She passed the entrance exam and began to study in earnest. Through medical school she kept her marks high enough to earn scholarships. “I say it was God helping me all the way!”

Now, at age 28, Mufungizi loves her first job as a medical doctor. “What do I like best in my work at HEAL Africa? I love obstetrics. Birth is such a mystery. To be able to receive these beautiful babies safely into the world is an honour. I also enjoy treating kids. They are more straightforward than adult patients are. When things are not going well, they let you know. And when they are happy they let me know it too.”

Dr. Mufungizi appreciates the emphasis on continuing education she finds at HEAL Africa Hospital. “Medicine is always evolving and it is a challenge to keep up, especially in a developing country like the Congo. But here we have a variety of patients to treat, we doctors discuss case studies together, and we benefit from visiting lecturers who are specialists in their fields.”

Another advantage of practicing medicine at HEAL Africa, according to Connie Smith, a Canadian midwife who lives in Goma, is that the hospital receives high quality medical supplies from Canada through HPIC. “I do believe that one of the benefits of equipping a hospital is you get to keep bright African doctors and they don’t go off to work in Thunder Bay or something.”

Dr. Mufungizi realizes that her life could easily have taken a different turn. “I almost ended up selling merchandise in a boutique,” she says. Instead, she is living her dream, and thanks to her determination, countless Congolese will receive medical care.