Proud and Passionate Midwife – Scoviah Masudio

When an opportunity meets passion, not even the sky is the limit – so they say. We have Scoviah admirably narrating her journey as a Midwife to display the truth in this statement.

Hi Scovia, thank you for your willingness to be a part of this project. I am happy you took the steps to make sure this interview happens
Hi Winnie. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to share my story; I am grateful. I don’t have a unique story, but I hope it will inspire and encourage someone out there who might be at the crossroads to make a timely decision.

Please give a brief introduction about yourself
My name is Scoviah Masudio from Uganda, and I am proud to be a Midwife. For me, midwifery is a passionate journey that I have decided to embark on. I love being a midwife so much that the maternity ward always feels like a second home to me. Currently, I work as a Midwife Activity Manager with the MSF which translates to Doctors Without Borders in English. MSF is an international medical humanitarian organisation that provides medical care to people affected by disasters, catastrophes, wars, epidemics, conflicts, exclusion from health care in any way whether natural or man-made. MSF targets specific areas in countries whose health systems and infrastructure have been overwhelmed by an epidemic or disaster and are in dire need of health resources.

Wow! Now I understand where this passion you speak with comes from. You are doing amazing work!

Please tell us how you started incorporating STEM into humanitarian work
I am from the northern part of Uganda, Adjumani District. I am the third born of a polygamous family with ten children. My father had two wives, four daughters, and six sons. I lived the larger part of my childhood life in Adjumani mostly with my grandmother. We lived in a mud hut with grass-thatched roofing and papyrus as mats to sleep on. The sight of a cooked meal sent waves of jubilation amongst the children as it was mostly a cup of porridge that took us through the day. My education suffered as a result and I did not have the best of foundations.

I was at a government school because of our financial position as a family and secondly, sadly because girl-child education wasn’t a popular feature of society during that time. A large section of the people did not appreciate the presence of a girl in a classroom. Even though at this time the government had started pushing for the need and encouragement of girl-child education, few people registered their approval, and girls had to encourage themselves to push further. Luckily, my dad bought into the idea of education whether it was for the girl child or the boy child and albeit he was financially crippled he always had words of encouragement for us.

Also, the civil unrest caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony in Northern Uganda disrupted the smooth flow of my early childhood education. The situation was so unsettling and uncertain that one moment we would be learning happily in the classroom and the next moment we would be running for our little lives to go hide in the bush. The security situation was so unpredictable that we had to go for weeks without stepping a foot in the classroom. Teachers also feared coming to class for their safety, even when it was calm enough. The few that were brave enough to show up were not enough to cater for the many classes that needed manning.

These factors immensely affected my early childhood education and welfare, but they could not deter me from developing as a student and an individual. I remember my grandmother narrating to me how I would run after the kids that were of school-going age although I wasn’t. She said that I would follow them to school and sit in their classroom although I had no idea what was going on. As a child, I remember the presence of MSF in my locality as they helped take care of people who had been displaced from their homes and were seeking refuge in camps set up for them. That was when I fell in love with the kind of work they did and at one time I was a beneficiary of this excellent humanitarian service.

So, I said to myself, “this is magnificent, and I would love to be a part of this group of people who sacrificed their comfort, their lives so the less privileged could have hope again”. MSF opened my eyes to the real prestige of being a Medical Doctor, the prestige that comes with being able to help someone who couldn’t give anything in return for the service provided. That is why I decided to study and join the medical field. I knew that I had to do everything possible to achieve this desire that burned fiercely within me.

My father’s status as a civil servant led to his transfer from Adjumani to Kampala. This was the beginning of a new chapter and a new and even better challenge. In the big city, the education was good, the teachers were ever-present and ever ready to assist us, and even more encouraging was the idea that there was no excuse to skip school. At my new school, I learned of the various professional roles in the medical field like Laboratory Technician, Midwife, Pharmacist, and other roles I had never heard of. Here, I was able to engage my teachers in a discussion on the medical profession and I was able to gather from them what it would take to become a doctor.

I discovered that I had to do well in the science subjects, and I got to work immediately. God gave me the brains; I thank him for that. I was able to pass all my primary school subjects well. Again, the financial constraints came calling and I couldn’t attend the schools I wanted. My father could only afford a government secondary school. I joined Muni Girls’ Secondary School in Arua for my O’Level, one of the best public schools in Arua. In school, I took up various leadership positions like Class prefect, Deputy Head Girl, among others.

I passed my final exam to the glory of God and continued to Seroma Christian High School, which is a private school, for my A’Level. Shocking, right? Well, my father, felt I had braced the storm and done extremely well in the O’Level and he wanted me to get the best education during my A’Level, thus the decision to enroll me at a private school. He paid through his nose to make sure that I received the foundation I needed for a successful college education. I studied fervently and God being so good, I passed well again. I enrolled for a Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics (PCB/M) combination, and many people were shocked to see me, first of all, enroll in a science program, let alone do PCB/M.

During admission, I remember being asked to change my combination or at least drop one of the subjects and substitute it with something else. I stuck to my ground and said no! It was either that or nothing else. Of course, some people weren’t new to this trend and encouraged me perpetually especially my dad. Still, some people felt this was unconventional and did not fully appreciate a girl in the science program. I realised that in life, there will always be naysayers, as well as those who will continually encourage you and do their best to be in your corner. The most important part is that you never give up on yourself, especially if you are a lady in the sciences, that you keep going and you put in extra effort as you move along.

Believe in yourself, believe in your vision! During the senior six mock exams and, without mincing words, I failed miserably. I remember being so embarrassed by my failure that I couldn’t show it to my family, especially my father; it was so profound and glaring. It pained me so much; I had to convince my father that there were no results for that examination. Thoughts began to fill my little head, I worried about how I would achieve my ultimate dream if I was failing at this rate in the examinations close to the end. Well, I had to pick myself up, I dusted myself and rode on that pain and embarrassment to work harder than before.

I resolved to do my best in the subsequent examinations and therefore read twice as much, engaged teachers and students in more discussions, more research, and of course, prayers. My faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a strong foundation for me and I believe that through Him I can do all things. I am not afraid to talk about this side of my journey anytime I tell my story because, life, my dears, is not at all the smoothest of journeys. It is full of ups and downs, and even if it was a bed of roses, roses have thorns too.

I did very well in my final examination and although I qualified for medicine, I couldn’t secure a government scholarship. That evening, my father, who had struggled to put me through school, sorrowfully admitted my outstanding performance and reminded me of my siblings’ education. He said that, if he paid for medical school then my siblings would have to forfeit their education. I assured him not to worry because I was willing to do a diploma program in nursing as a starter. During the application, my dad suggested I apply for civil engineering too.

When the results came, I had been selected for both nursing and civil engineering, on a government scholarship. My father wanted me to enroll in civil engineering because it was prestigious. I, however, was eager to enter the medical field. Any path that ensured this reality was what I opted for. I got into the nursing school on a government scholarship at the Soroti School of Comprehensive Nursing. It was during this three-year nursing program that I discovered midwifery and fell in love completely. I have two of my midwifery tutors to thank (Madam Mary Achuma and Akwang Grace). They dedicated their time to making sure that I understood the foundation of the program, that I grasped the concepts involved in the program.

My fear of the practical aspect of midwifery was overcome during the rotation phase, where I spent some time in the maternity ward with experienced midwives. It was there that my love for midwifery was born, I embraced and decided to nurture it. In 2010, I graduated as a registered comprehensive nurse and was among the best in my class. I grabbed the opportunity to join MSF as a Midwife in South Sudan in 2011. Being part of this group was a dream come true; my ultimate dream. I wanted to do what I saw them do in my childhood.

At MSF, apart from living the dream, I’ve had the pleasure of being expatriated as an international staff; something I am still doing up to now. I have been privileged to work in different parts of the African continent and other places outside the continent. The exposure has made me appreciate this path that I have taken. I am grateful to God that I did not let my failures and shortcomings hold me back.

My desire to excel and be recognised as a force in midwifery sent me running back to school. In 2018, I enrolled at Aga Khan University (AKU), Uganda Campus where I pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in midwifery. I can boldly say that, at Aga Khan, I saw myself mature into the midwife that I am today. The program was for two and a half years. The faculty did an excellent job training us in leadership skills, critical thinking, evidence-based patient care and management, ICT, and other essential competencies.

At graduation, I felt a total sense of fulfillment and accomplishment; I am the first girl in my family to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in a field I love. This is a standard set for the young girls in the family to aim higher. They should know that they can achieve whatever they set their heart and mind to do. The greatest moment was being given the award of excellence as the best graduating student of my 2020 cohort; me, the little village girl from Adjumani district. I was also voted as valedictorian, not only at the AKU Uganda campus but globally, in all the AKU campuses. Unfortunately, my father couldn’t share in this feat of mine. He had passed away two weeks after I started at AKU. I know he is smiling down from heaven.

You have talked about your weakest points while taking this journey; what has kept you from giving up?
Yes, it’s true I have had points of unbearable frustration and thought of giving up suddenly. For instance, my father’s death meant that I had to work extra whilst schooling to support my family. I would say that my inspiration has always been from God, keeping my faith in Him, always. My family, for all the support, encouragement, and patience with me. Also, there were positive people along the journey like Dr. Grace Edwards, whose Doctorate in the science field of midwifery amazed and gave me enough impetus to keep moving forward.

There’s also Faculty Helen Kyakuwaire from AKU who began as a certified midwife and is now pursuing her Ph.D. These gave me hope that I could do anything I wanted as long as I kept at it with focused rigor.

This leads me to the question about your prestigious awards and moments of recognition
During my O’ and A ‘Levels, I served as a student leader. At AKU, I was a representative on the student council and represented the school during conferences and other important occasions. I was adjudged the best student in my midwifery class. As a valedictorian across the AKU Global Network of Schools, I was awarded the most outstanding student in my cohort.

I have had many milestones that I am proud of and grateful for. However, the highest honour is that God walked with me even when I was mad at him sometimes. He came through for me; always working behind the scenes. God made sure that I did not wallow in my pain or give in to despair. Lastly, I am very proud of myself for being able to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree, through it all. Against very many odds, I have come through victorious, by the grace of God. I have not given up or looked back for once.

Who is Scoviah outside midwifery?
Scoviah loves music, reading novels, watching movies, adventure among others. I am a novel and movie addict, but I am trying my best to break that addiction, haha. With Gospel music, I like to tune in and worship God and thank Him for His goodness in my life. I do some sporting activities; I used to play softball, but it’s been a while. A few lessons to get me back on my feet would do me good. Badminton is another sport I enjoy and still play. I can play badminton for hours on end without getting worn out. Outside sports, I also like to go out occasionally with friends and loved ones to enjoy and have some fun.

What is your favorite quote?
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it” ~ William Arthur Ward. I believe that if you picture who/what you want to become, that’s an active vision that you can work towards achieving. Whatever you want to do to achieve your vision, do it through Christ. It is my firm belief that wisdom and direction come from God. I know that through Christ who strengthens me, I can achieve anything including my wild dreams. Life requires us to have a vision, for, without it, one is treading on a dangerous path that leads to doom. Even the Bible, in Proverbs 29:18a, says that “where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Every step of our lives must be geared towards a particular vision. That is what will keep us focused in the right lane. Without a clear vision, we resort to trying one thing after another all the time and end up with nothing.

How do you encourage a young girl who is passionate about STEM?
Never let your fears or failures ever hold you back! Let no failure throw you off balance. Instead, let it fill you with a new desire to do better than before. Let it ignite in you fire and passion to work harder to see you actualise your dreams. Wherever the fear is, confront that aspect of your life. Kick out the fear with practical steps and build faith and confidence in its place.

It’s just through this interview that I have realised we are both former students of Seroma! Wow, such a small world! I am proud to be sharing your story today. Thank you so much for being this open about your life. Please continue giving hope to those in need. And May God bless the works of your hands.

Indeed, it is such a small world! I am honoured that my story was picked as encouragement for young girls in the STEM world. Thank you very much.

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