Eleanor Nche is a passionate Cameroonian who is currently studying Ophthalmology at the Hadassah Medical Center in Israel.
After graduating from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Yaounde, Eleanor worked at the Bamenda Regional Hospital, where her passion to serve was cited by an Israeli eye camp, who had visited the hospital to conduct free eye surgeries.
Today, Eleanor is in the final phase of completing her eye specialist program at the Israel medical center. She gives an eye-opening account on how she got the opportunity to train. She equally speaks on the misconception many have about life in Israel and counsels Cameroonians to avoid being pushed down by challenges. To her, people should always strive to push past closed doors
How did you find yourself in Israel?
After graduating from the Yaounde Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, I was working at the Bamenda Regional Hospital. In 2012, the Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized an Eye Camp in the Bamenda Regional Hospital in the North West Region of Cameroon. I was selected as part of the team to work with the Eye Camp which was the fruit of the collaboration between various willing actors: MASHAV, the Embassy of Israel in Cameroon, the Ministry of Public Health (Cameroon), the Bamenda Regional Hospital, “Eye from Zion” and the Shalom Club in Bamenda.
My passion for surgeries and work with the eye camp team was recognised by the Israeli team of Doctors led by Dr. Michael Halpert. So when the opportunity to train someone came up, they selected me. In fact Dr Halpert and Dr Peer Jacob, who is the head of the Ophthalmology department have all help to see that I got to Israel.
What inspired you to pursue ophthalmology?
I have always been passionate about surgeries. Besides that, I realise that Cameroon has a huge need for eye specialist, especially those who conduct surgeries. When you walk past the streets in Cameroon, you see the number of persons wearing glasses…very huge. I mean the situation is precarious back in the regions with so many persons with eye complications but little or no specialists to cater for them. That is what motivated me to work towards gaining the insight that in the bid to help my community back home.
How is life in Israel? We hear a lot stories on war and racism in the news..?
That is a very wrong perception of Israel. Israel has good living standards. They have are very honest and direct. As for racism, I haven’t experience that. I have never been treated differently because I am black or African.
If I had to choose to have a second country, I will chose Israel. I wouldn’t mind living Israel, it’s a good place to live and I don’t see myself exposed to any risk.
What about language? How were you able to overcome the language barrier?
It was very difficult at first. I mean new culture, new language but I spent five months just studying Hebrew, five days a week. And now I can cope. It takes a lot of time to adapt, but I like challenges. I never see a closed door and turn back. That is what I always tell young Cameroonians. Most young persons don’t like challenges. They want to be sure of the end before they can go for it.
Look at me, I got the opportunity to train in Israel in 2012, but got to Israel only in 2014. That tells you the ups and downs I went through. But I was resolved and poised to go for it.
As a young woman that’s impressive. So what advice will you give to a typical Cameroonian young girl who sees sciences as a man’s world?
The only difference between you and a man is the X chromosome. Never limit yourself because you are a girl. We all have our different potentials. Don’t expect things to be handed to you on a platter of gold because you are a woman- NO. You will have to go and claim your spot in the limelight.
Add value to yourself at all times.