It was not straightforward rising up in an surroundings the place males are extra valued than girls. And the non secular and cultural components in my area imply that fewer girls than males go to college. I had a number of marriage proposals whereas I used to be at secondary faculty. Happily, I didn’t get married, regardless of the pressures.
My mom was chronically unwell after I was younger, which motivated me to go to medical faculty on the College of Yaoundé I. In 2007, my final 12 months, I gained a US Fulbright scholarship to pursue a grasp’s diploma in public well being at Georgia State College in Atlanta. That have supplied many alternatives to satisfy folks from world wide, set up relationships and strengthen my bilingualism.
It additionally satisfied me of the worth of public well being and the significance of investing in prevention. After I returned to Cameroon in 2010, my expertise have been in demand. Two administrators on the Ministry of Public Well being needed to rent me: it was clear that the nation wanted the form of human useful resource that I represented. I labored on a mission to strengthen the public-health workforce. Subsequent, I labored as a programme supervisor for a world non–governmental group known as Sightsavers. Then, the ministry recruited me again to develop into its head of kid and new child well being.
Exhausting work and conserving good relationships with folks in my networks have been key to my success. Only recently, I reached out to one among my US mentors for recommendation that I integrated right into a grant proposal on vaccination in Cameroon.
After I was youthful, I had a job mannequin, Yaou Aïssatou, who was then the minister of girls’s empowerment for Cameroon. She was from my area and she or he was additionally Muslim. In the course of the faculty holidays, I might study stitching and hairdressing as a result of this was anticipated of girls. I did it out of respect for my mother and father, however internally, I assumed: “This isn’t for me.” I might see Aïssatou, who’s now the director of nationwide funding, commanding a lot respect, and I might suppose, “Why ought to I do hairdressing after I could be like her?”
Younger girls need to know their vacation spot: what’s their objective and what do they need folks to say about them? If you find yourself clear about the place you wish to go, then you possibly can put the mechanisms in place to achieve your objective.
I’ve a imaginative and prescient board in my bed room that I renew each six months. It has my life targets — the home and automotive I wish to have — and my bodily targets to maintain match. But it surely additionally has my tutorial targets on it, similar to “Write 25 publications by the tip of February 2022” and my priorities for what I wish to publish. I see that after I get up, and I do know I’ve to work on a selected article.
Discovering an excellent work–life stability is tough and, truthfully, I’m undecided I’m doing it proper. I’ve made sacrifices. I’ve reduce off every part that’s leisure and I work seven days per week. My first little one, who’s 14, stayed with my mom after I went to the US, and my second little one, who’s 3, stays with my mom in my residence city of Guider, a 1,200-kilometre drive from Yaoundé.
My key phrase is delegation. If I don’t need to do one thing myself, I’ll delegate it to workers, or to medical graduates, college students or analysis assistants. I additionally delegate housekeeping, similar to chores and cooking.
As a girl on this surroundings, it’s not straightforward to evolve. I’m a part of the Larger Institute for Development in Well being Analysis for Ladies, often known as the HIGHER Ladies Consortium, a community of senior girls researchers in Cameroon. Yearly, we maintain a retreat through which we discuss concerning the challenges of marriage, household life and tutorial analysis. It’s a possibility for me to study from different girls’s errors, and so keep away from making the identical ones myself.
As a result of these girls wish to see different girls rise, it has been an amazing motivation. Now, I mentor three youthful researchers. When I’ve a analysis proposal or paper to jot down, I name them in order that they will study, and we publish collectively. One of many folks I’m mentoring is Solange Ngo Bama, a primary-care doctor on the Ministry of Public Well being who’s working for a grasp’s diploma in epidemiology. Collectively, we now have three publications about mass vaccination in peer overview. My wealth comes from the folks round me.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.