Patrick Dakwa

Traditional Nurse

During his initiation in 2002, Patrick Dakwa had an experience that would drive him to determined activism and a life dedicated to community health. “A fellow initiate collapsed – it was a serious case. I escaped and ran to the road, where I stopped a man who called an ambulance. He was so ill, he almost died.” Dakwa himself developed an infection and had to visit the hospital for treatment.

This early experience with incompetent nursing during his circumcision ritual was compounded by stories Dakwa heard from people in his own community.

“I’ve seen the crisis around the country and especially in my own area. I’ve seen so many young boys harmed and even die. I decided to campaign and intervene by training a few men in my area. I taught them how to dress the wounds and how to treat them, and then I would go around and monitor them.”

Dakwa learnt his nursing skills from an older man whom he had watched treating initiates, and who knew what he was doing. He began with about seven young men, and he soon saw a difference.

“Since 2005, in 12 locations near me, there have been no deaths and no amputations.”

In 2007, he went on a 10-day training course in traditional nursing laid on by the department of health, which deepened his understanding of the nursing needs.

Dakwa dreams of having the infrastructure to expand his reach and make his life a little easier. Simple things such as a reliable vehicle would make a huge difference, he says. And if he could formally train as a nurse, he would be satisfied: “If I could be involved in nursing,” he says, “I would work non-stop, 24/7, as long as there were patients in front of me.”

At the age of 27, he sees himself serving the people, doing home visits to monitor drug compliance, helping people to grow vegetables and “being involved in their everyday lives”. — Mandi Smallhorne