In September 2016, Mary Wambui Mwaniki stood in front of a 300-strong audience of esteemed health professionals and guests – including his Highness the Aga Khan – in London and delivered a keynote presentation. “There was a standing ovation when I was done, and later His Highness the Aga Khan personally thanked me. When everyone stood and clapped at the end of my presentation, I couldn’t believe it. It was out of this world! The entire experience was surreal for me,” says the Public Health Nurse from Kangema SubCounty in Murang’a.
“I was at the conference to represent the Aga Khan University alumni, sharing a presentation on the impact of Johnson & Johnson’s scholarship. My presentation was to be a key deciding factor on whether the company would continue providing financial scholarship for students in the University. I must have convinced them because they decided to continue with the programme, and it’s still ongoing to date.”
During her time at AKU-SONAM, Mary was one of the beneficiaries of the instrumental scholarship, which she earned by being the top student in her class. “The scholarship covered three quarters of the school fees,” she elaborates. “This really helped because at the time, my salary from the Ministry of Health wouldn’t have been able to cover the training. I’ll forever be grateful to the Aga Khan University and Johnson & Johnson for making it all possible for me.”
35-year-old Mary is a dynamo – energetic and determined. Coupled with her skills, it is these qualities that have propelled her to the position of Kangema Sub-County Public Health Nurse. She is responsible for overseeing 30 health facilities; 19 of them are government-owned, 3 are faith based and 10 are private.
Her responsibilities include linking the sub-county to the greater Murang’a County in terms of the delivery of health services, making sure that facilities are sufficiently stocked with needed pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical goods, deploying health staff in the public facilities, inspecting the facilities to ensure they maintain standards of service delivery and advising on changes and capacity-building of nurses in the sub-county.