The idea of starting up a pharmacy in Mumosho was suggested to us by local people but our first reaction was to push back. We doubted we would find a qualified person to manage the buying and dispensing of medicine and we were unsure that a pharmacy would be able to repay a loan.
However, the nurse at the Mumosho clinic told us very clearly that he did not have the medical supplies to meet local needs. He said that people had to walk 25 kilometres into Bukavu to buy medicines that were sometimes urgent. He too thought that a pharmacy would be good for the community and offered his support.
Then we met Janine. She is thoughtful and intelligent and she cares. She is also a very experienced nurse having spent many years working at the Panzi hospital. She made it clear she wanted to manage a pharmacy in Mumosho.
The clinic offered to collaborate with her and so we worked on a proposal and agreed a loan so that she could repay slowly and not put too much pressure on profits. She also made a list of medicines in collaboration with the clinic that cannot be dispended without a prescription.
Within a short while Jeanine had earned a reputation locally for giving wise and careful advice to customers who came to her with medical concerns. Throughout the two-year loan period she has kept her stock up to date and the shelves filled and the steady stream of customers has ensured she has been able to repay the loan.
The Mumosho clinic has been a key customer since day one and Jeanine maintains a stock of intravenous saline for them and also for six other clinics in the region. For some of these clinics it is an eight kilometre walk into Mumosho. Such is her reputation.
She sells anti-malarials and antibiotics and is particularly well stocked with medicines for children. We have visited her many times, stopping to talk for few minutes. Invariably she has been interrupted by customers asking for advice. She talks things through carefully. Jeanine has become a trusted and important member of the community