Health, as a number one priority, brings vaccination to Luanda International School

Posted on 10th Aug 2023 in School News

In the last eight years, Luanda International School has implemented five vaccination campaigns on campus. The Yellow Fever outbreak in Angola in 2016 and the recent Covid pandemic led the school Director to take the initiative to prioritise the community's health and safety.

Are you familiar with the expression, “If the mountain does not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain”? That was what Dylan Hughes, LIS School Director, considered when he realised a real concern about the lack of vaccination for Yellow Fever and Covid. These diseases were causing serious health issues in Angola. So, he brought the vaccines to the LIS campus. “For the Yellow Fever, we did two separate vaccinations times, and with Covid, there were three in total,” explains Dylan Hughes.

A Yellow Fever epidemic was going on in Angola in 2016. There was not enough vaccine in the country at the time. Hence, the school contacted the Ministry of Health, and “we were very lucky to be supported by the Minister who said we could do an onsite vaccination for the school community.” That included staff and their household members and parents as well. The Minister of Health went to LIS and said the school was being responsible and they were grateful to have a site to work from. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough locations then, so they also started doing many more vaccinations through schools.

The vaccination was very well received. “I remember meeting helpers, aunties, and cousins of staff who came out to the school for that vaccination, and they were really grateful.” 

During that time, the hospitals were inundated and couldn’t cope; it was worse than Covid. “We had a lot of staff directly or indirectly affected with Yellow Fever in their own families, so it was a difficult time.

“The one thing I will always remember is a growing line of people waiting for the Yellow Fever vaccine, but some of them were crying, and they had tears rolling down their eyes. Some were afraid of the needle because they had never had a vaccination before, but also some were tears of joy to think: I’m going to be ok.” These health initiatives were possible because all the staff volunteers offered time to help on weekends and do whatever was necessary.

The School Director emphasises the two main reasons for this campaign: “We wanted to make sure our school community was safe and that we prioritise their health and well-being. In our Mission Statement, we aim to be socially responsible - doing small things like the campaigns really helped and made me feel proud to work at LIS.”

When questioned about his eight years of experience heading Luanda International School and implementing initiatives that are not in the job description, he states: “I don’t think it is about the amount of work I have done [as a Director]; it is about the right kind of work. My job is not necessarily to get involved with the vaccine, but when you can do small and meaningful things that actually mean a lot to other people, that just adds to the richness of the role. I never felt obligated. I felt committed to doing that for the community. It was a real point of pride to get that done.”