Meet the Member: Janet Knox

Meet Mrs Janet Knox, Bonnyrigg, Scotland:

Janet is one of Chitambo’s staunchest Friends. She worked as a Nursing Sister at Chitambo from 1961-1963. She has very fond memories of Chitambo and makes substantial fund-raising contributions towards the present day hospital and nursing school.

My Time at Chitambo, by Janet Knox
1961 was an exciting time to be at Chitambo. A lot of building work was taking place. The new maternity wing had just been completed, I was to move into a new house, one of two for sisters, and a new kitchen was under way. Of course there were snags. It was some time after my arrival that my house was completed but the cooks for the hospital were much more inconvenienced as, to build the new kitchen, the old one was demolished and cooking was done outdoors, often in the rain.

While I was “homeless”, I spent time with the builder’s family with whom I had been at missionary college and then moved to the “blockhouse” until a rat decided to share my bed which was then moved to the sitting room of the “cottage”, occupied at that time by a lady who had been another fellow student at missionary college.

I was very fortunate in having met the majority of my missionary colleagues in Scotland. I was also lucky to have known life in the country in Scotland without electricity and so was not daunted by Tilley lamps, Primus stoves and even a Tilly iron which I hadn’t encountered before. My greatest frustration was being banned from the hospital so that I could be orientated and learn some language. I am afraid I did not appreciate at the time the sacrifices staff at the hospital made for this to happen and was not a very good language student. The students were much more accomplished in this field and of great assistance in our work. I also had the greatest admiration for our two Medical Assistants, Mr Mkandawire and Mr Chavula.

The least difficult of our maternity cases were mainly from the Teacher Training College at Serenje where we held ante-natal clinics. Many of the cases from the villages were difficult ones. The College was a fairly new and vibrant place too.

Before I left in Dec.1963, more building had taken place at Chitambo – staff housing and a house for a doctor. There were also plans for a new nurses’ home with a house-mother for female students, but that seemed not to materialise.

At that time there were changes in the training of Medical Assistants and Chitambo was linked with Chilonga for practical examinations. I was also privileged to attend the opening of a paediatric ward at Chilonga with Dr Currie.

I was reunited with Chitambo through an article in our local paper here in Scotland and have been surprised at how developments there seem to be a realisation of the dreams and plans we had all these years ago. My thoughts and prayers are with those who are bringing these about.

(For images of Chitambo in Janet’s day, please see below...doesn’t Janet look smart in her uniform!)

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