Personal information

Name: Jacklina Theonest

Date of Birth: 08-08-1995

Country: Tanzania

Study: Nursing [level: Diploma]

Study information

Study: Diploma in nursing and midwifery technician

University: St Magdalene Health Training Institute

Location: Mugana, Bukoba, Tanzania

Start date: 01-09-2022

Expected graduation: 2024-2025

Costs per year for iSTEPup: $783 [€768] (source: TZS 1.825.000)

Donate for Jacklina Theonest ❤

Why I need the iSTEPup Foundation 

The reason that I need this scholarship is because I come from a poor family. Unfortunately, my father passed away when I was still in high school. After finishing high school, I was married by my husband, and by now we have four children together. We live in a small house, together with my mother in law. Fortunately, my husband has a job in the hospital and is able to provide for our family. However, the money is not enough to pay for my education as well. As for the strengthening of my poor family, as well as our community, we need people who are professionally trained, because I observed people, especially pregnant women who died because of lacking skilled people in health care. I pledge to study responsibly for three years. After that I will use the knowledge to lift up both my family from our poor living standard, as well as our community as whole.

Thank you very much. I am grateful for your support.


Nathasja van Leeuwen, Medical Doctor.

My name is Nathasja van Leeuwen, born in the Netherlands in 1992. Since I was a little girl, I told everyone I knew that I wanted to work in Africa. I did not know why, after all, I had never been there. But for some reason, I was convinced that I was meant to be there. When I grew older, I tried to figure out the best way to reach my goal. That’s when I decided to study medicine. Not just because I was interested in how the human body works, but also because I thought that I could make a difference in Africa being a doctor. So, in high school I chose the right subjects and after graduating I applied for university. Unfortunately, my application was refused. Therefore, I turned to my plan B; taking a Bachelor’s degree in medical biology and then switch to medicine. Luckily, I managed to succeed this time.

For  my last medical internship I went to work in a small mission hospital in Tanzania for three months. Finally an opportunity to taste a little bit of the life of a tropical doctor! Within the first minute of setting foot in Tanzania, I fell in love with everything I could see. During this internship, I got to experience so many beautiful things, that I knew I had found my new home. There has not been a single day I wanted to go back to the Netherlands. Already during the internship, I applied for a job in the neighbouring hospital, St. Joseph Hospital in Kagondo. I went home to pick up my diploma and, finally a medical doctor, straight back to Tanzania to start my dream job.

During these three years I kept myself busy with many projects in the hospital. In order to improve patient care I collected money to buy a new portable ultrasound machine. And to increase safety and motivate staff I donated a solar system to make sure there is light 24 hours a day. I also managed to help with some hospital projects, run by the management itself. Such as repair of toilets, painting, et cetera. However, besides these projects inside the hospital, I also look for ways to help people in my environment. Together with my husband I started the Poor Patient Funds, which is a programm to help the poorest people get the right medical care, funded by donations. And we also look for children/adolescents who did not get a change to go to school or study. By various means we try to find a sponsor for them. So far we were able to help to high school boys (through private donations) and one nursing student (through I-STEP-UP).

Besides all these projects I dream of opening my own maternity clinic. Every day, I experience the strengths and weaknesses in the current maternity care system. And every day, I see room for improvement. I make small steps every day, and hope to open the clinic at the end of 2022. I expect to start with 150 patients per month, with a capacity up to 450 deliveries per month, reducing the 14.000 yearly unattended deliveries in our region quite a bit. Up to now, I have managed to buy the plot, big enough for the clinic, a staff house, a separate pharmacy and canteen, room for relatives of patients, and our own, already built, house with a small guest house. In November 2020, we moved to our new house, in order to closely supervise the plot and the building process to come. Stable supply of water and electricity for the clinic are already in place, as well as a large part of the materials for the clinic’s foundation.

My dream of becoming a doctor in Africa has been fulfilled. It is now time for new dreams. And one of these is possible with help of I-STEP-UP.