A calling to God and the sick
Posted Sunday, January 6 2013 at 02:00
Sr Regina Atimo. From an early age, she knew that she wanted to devote her life to serving God. Later in life she learnt that she would also like to take care of the sick.
Clad in a spotless white dress and veil with a dark blue belt, Reverend Sister Regina Atimo commands respect and exudes authority albeit with a posture of humility synonymous with her calling, as she addresses her students.
The principal tutor and old student of Kamuli Midwifery and Comprehensive Nursing Training School fell in love with Sisterhood when she was only five-years-old, after her father, who was the chairperson of the Parish Council, hosted nuns at their home.
“I often kneel down, humble myself and thank God for the calling He had for me. I also pray many times for the blessings of my parents and mentors for their insight that has enabled me to serve God’s people with love, humility and commitment,” Sr Atimo says.
Following her dream
Sr Atimo began her journey in her primary school, Lwala Primary School, where nuns posted to the school become her role models.
Later, during her secondary school at Lwala Girls, she was recruited to join Pallisa Novitiate after which she was posted to Madera Covent in Soroti as a House Sister and later given the responsibility as the in-charge of the elderly at the Providence Home where she was recommended and sponsored for training in nursing.
Her zeal, passion and calling to serve was sealed in 1996 when she took her final vows as Professed Sister, becoming fully married and committed to the Church.
“My Teso upbringing endeared me to respect, feel for elders and offer them the best I can in return for their kindness when we were still children eating peoples’ mangoes, oranges and groundnuts at will,” Sr Atimo says of her ability to work easily with the elderly. She has climbed many professional ladders starting as an enrolled midwife then upgrading to registered midwife, registered nurse – double registered to tutor, administrator and now principal tutor in her old school.
Sr Atimo enjoys teaching and disciplining her students, making sure they understand and apply what they are taught and become responsible to the community. “She enjoys teaching and making sure her students understand and apply what they have been taught and they respect her for this,” Sr Gilder Pacuwegi, a former Hospital Administrator Kamuli Mission Hospital, says.
According to Sr Atimo, the problems in the health service delivery are training and attitude oriented. “We need to build attitudes, instil respect and discipline, blending it with self-motivation at work in order to make health services attractive and fully utilised,” she says.
She points out that nursing is from within the heart, yet some parents force their children to take up the profession as a source of living while others are merely attracted by the uniform yet it should be a calling, so these end up misplaced and thus harass the patients.
“It is service not money, so be patient with life and remember the patient is your profession. The reality is that of a smart nurse doing dirty work with love, a smile and human heart,” she always says at the end of her address to her students.
She is also a tough disciplinarian and her students know it and follow instructions to the letter but love her for her motherly handling, counselling and grooming. “Sr Atimo trains her students to offer faithful service, taking the patient as their profession and believes good people can be made and trained,” Dr Micah Lopita, a consultant gynecologist, observes.
The loss of her brother when she was in Primary Three in 1977, stressed her family and because she was very close to the late brother, her parents who would often remember him when they saw her, decided to take her to the boarding school where her dreams were edified to become a nun and a health worker.
“The faces of innocent young girls subjected to teenage pregnancies and marriage touch me deeply and the enthusiasm of rural mothers trusting their lives to us keep the spirit burning in me and I have not regretted my decisions,” she says.
The biggest challenge she has is sustaining the interest of girls who want to join Sisterhood or health training but are constrained by social and financial problems. She however takes a bigger challenge with the reminders of theprophetic comment of her village catechist whose speech was an assignment calling. “I wonder how some people bring up their daughters to become wonderful nuns and people who matter to our community. Let us take inspiration from them to educate our children,” he once said. This has urged her to recruit other girls from the village.