WINDHOEK – “As long as you set goals for yourself, nothing can stop you, except yourself. Nothing comes easy but if you know what you want to become, you can achieve that through hard work, dedication and commitment,” were the words of a young medical graduate who obtained a Bachelor of General Medicine and Surgery (MD), from the Kursk State Medical University in Russia.
Dr Margaletta Selma Tjikongo who hails from the Omusati Region was born and bred in Ruacana. She originates from one of Namibia’s marganilised tribes – the Ndongona people – and for her to attain a university degree was a dream come true.
Tjikongo not only has a degree in medicine but she also has a Diploma in Comprehensive Nursing and Midwifery Science from the University of Namibia. Prior to going to Russia in 2010, Tjikongo practised as a registered nurse. “My dream had always been to become a doctor,” she shared with New Era. That dream haunted her to a point where she surrendered and eventually gave up everything to pursue full-time studies in Russia.
Reminiscing on her journey growing up and pursuing her dreams, Tjikongo says it has not always been easy.
“I had to leave the security of my job. It was not easy coming to live in Windhoek so I had fears going to live in a foreign country. I didn’t know if I would do well financially,” she explained.
She said the government loan she secured primarily catered for tuition fees. “My mom never worked in her life. I survived on loan money for my tuition fees, airfare to come and do my practicals in Namibia during holidays and for my books,” said Tjikongo whose father died while she was young.
Fast forward; the 31-year old is now doing an internship in Namibia and is attached to the Katutura state hospital and Windhoek Central hospital where she rotates in the various departments.
“I have not yet decided on specialising,” she responds to a question on her interests in the medical field. This is because every area of specialisation is unique, Tjikongo relates.
And, part of doing internship is to expose her to areas that she might be interested in pursuing.
The main areas of specialisation include obstetrics and gynaecology, surgery, internal medicine, paediatrics, orthopaedics, anaestesia, psychiatry and family medicine.
As part of their internship programme, medical graduates get the opportunity to do community service in the regions, explained Tjikongo.
“This is to block (prevent) a lot of medical referrals to Windhoek,” she said. Given the opportunity, Tjikongo says she would love to go back to her home town of Ruacana.
“It’s not like I went to study medicine just for my tribe but I’m sure that I will understand them better,” said Tjikongo, the second of three siblings.
Her dream is also to encourage the young people of the Ndongona tribe that if they set their minds to attaining their goals, it is not an impossible mission.
“I have not had the opportunity to go back home and motivate the young people since I got here in 2017, because my schedule has been very tight but I definitely do plan on going home to encourage them,” the soft-spoken Tjikongo shared. Speaking on the rewards that come with practising medicine, Tjikongo remarked: “When patients come in critically ill and after treating them they improve and are able to go back home better.”
She said that sometimes the public do not appreciate doctors and nurses but “it doesn’t matter whether or not they say thank you. Seeing your patient get better is a reward in itself and it is the best feeling ever.”
Like with any profession, the medical field comes with its challenges and without dwelling on the negatives, Tjikongo says: “When I registered to study medicine, I knew there would be negatives but those cannot keep someone from doing what they want.”
2019-01-21 10:05:49 5 months ago