Amid COVID-19 challenges, Elalie Kambaj serves others in DRC

August 13, 2020

Editor's Note:  Elalie Tshipeng Kambaj is an Africa University alumnus and recipient of tuition support from AU and Los Altos UMC United Methodist Women's African Student Education Fund. She received tuition support from 2012-2015 while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Management. As noted in the attached story, she is based in the South Congo Conference (Lubumbashi area).

Africa University alumna Elalie Tshipeng Kambaj has a heart for others and a gift for languages. Both prove beneficial as she helps Democratic Republic of Congo communities cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Aug. 9, the 55 African Union Member States recording COVID-19 data reported more than a million cases and 22,966 deaths across the continent. In the DRC alone, nearly 9,500 had contracted the virus, and 224 had died.

Today, as a health services administrator, she mediates between South Congo Annual Conference health facilities and the United Methodist Health Board. She records patient data, writes health-strengthening system reports, oversees project fund management and does market studies. Elalie’s fluency in English is a plus in the DRC, where the official language is French.

Before the pandemic struck, Elalie worked in an office, sharing an internet connection with three other staff. Now, forced to work from home, she has no internet access. “Working has become a hectic task,” she admitted.

“We are unable to make site visit to facilities for follow-up as we did previously,” she added. “Ongoing and approved projects are on standby, due to limited financial resources.” As funding decreases, fear of unemployment grows.

Still, she said, “I impact my community in health and other social services.”

Elalie earned a Bachelor of Health Services Management degree in 2015. Immediately after graduation, she co-founded an English club, which continues today. “We empower youth and young professionals on leadership and English skills,” she explained. She gained international recognition in 2017 as a young African Leaders Initiative East Africa alumna and in 2019 as a qualified Mandela Washington Fellow.

She participated in a pandemic-prevention project, teaching people hygiene measures. “We distributed hand soap, face masks and sanitizers,” Elalie said. “I organized logistics for all sites. We even went to remote areas with no internet access.

“I am proud to have saved lives with my time and skills.”