OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative

A tribute to Fay Karp


Oct 14


This blog is dedicated to Fay Karp. You can list her accomplishments – her biography – her University of British Columbia – Okanagan School of Nursing record, yet in doing so, you will miss the absolute essence of who she is and what drives her dedication and commitment to the people who live in Western Province, Zambia – her determination to see that health care in that remote part of the world is enhanced and that the quality of life is improved for all of ‘her’ citizens.

At the time of writing this post, Fay, along with Alex Malloy and three new Winnipeg based members of OkaZHI, Amy Douglas, Melissa Porpiglia and Heidi Kolomic will be on the 9 hour bus trip from Lusaka to Mongu. For Fay, this will be at least her seventh voyage along this road. I can see them now – stopped for a moment as a guard checks the details of the vehicle as they enter the Kafue National Park – buying bananas and cassava root. Soon they enter the game park, and Fay will be pointing out game to our newest members – this being their first trip. Alex, no stranger to these parts, travelled first as one of Fay’s UBCO nursing students and then committed herself to a five-month stint with colleague Jessica Lajcik teaching and mentoring in Mongu. Alex too will be excited. Our students have seen lions on that road, and all who have travelled there marvel at the birds, elephant, zebra, the ubiquitous impala and other fascinating species.

As they leave Kaoma, half way to their destination in Mongu, the sun will be setting. Smoke will be rising from the many village homes as mothers and grandmothers prepare their evening meals.

When they get to Mongu, it will be dark, but familiar taxi drivers will take them to Sister Katrina’s convent where they will be cared for and loved.

Tomorrow morning Mama Fay will be on the Paediatric ward at the Lewanika General Hospital. All of the nurses will be hugging her, whilst the Clinical Officers and Physicians will pay their respect more modestly.

Said Dr. Andrew Silumesii, at a time before his promotion to Chief Medical Officer for Western Province, when he was still the CEO of the hospital; “Fay – if you keep coming back – you will change the culture of how we do our work here.”

She keeps coming back – and the culture is changing. She is helping to develop a charting system for the hospital. She brings neonatal masks for the new-borns. She paints the walls. She laughs and cries with her patients, their families and the staff.  We love you Fay for who you are and for what you do.

The art drawings below were etched by Fay. They are being sold as a fundraising effort to support OkaZHI.

FetchingWater GrandMother Lunch PeekingattheNurse RunBabyElephant ZambianSunset ZambiaSkyline Zebra


6 Responses to “A tribute to Fay Karp”

  1. Jessica Lajcik

    Beautifully written BIll. Thank you Fay, for everything <3

  2. Cheryl Kaminsky

    You are an amazing women. Your dedication and contributions are inspiring.
    Love you

    • Bill Nelems

      Thanks Cheryl for your response. Fay will appreciate your kind words. Bill

  3. Susan VG

    Soooo lovely. Thank you for writing this tribute. Fay is also a terrific sister and friend. Safe travels all. Blessings

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