It was the gentle feel of newborn babies, their smiles, and the happiness on their mothers' faces that attracted her to obstetrics and gynaecology.
But her interest in the field was escalated when she learned about the appalling rate at which pregnant women where losing their lives, leaving behind infants, or losing their babies.
Dr Monde Maruza, who is studying towards her master's degree in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Stellenbosch University Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, wants to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity. And her dream of doing this, was given a major boost when she was awarded the Margaret McNamara Education Grant (MMEG) for 2023.
MMEG, a non-profit charity, has for the past four decades awarded over 500 educational grants to women from developing countries with a commitment to improving the well-being of women and children in those countries.
Maruza, who was born in Kasane, Botswana, says being awarded the grant is a relief and gives her peace of mind for the year ahead.
“As a student I will be able to concentrate on my studies and not worry about my main expenses being tuition and rent for the year. This is a wonderful opportunity that enables me to reach my potential and give back to the community. The grant gives me an opportunity to achieve my dream, which is to eventually make an impact on women's health.
“The most challenging part of my studies so far has been finances, moving to a new city and having to settle in is expensive. Working extra with no pay and no scholarship to assist financially has been really challenging."
Maruza says the most rewarding part of her work is dealing with very sick patients and seeing them walk out of the hospital all better.
“I have been able to properly manage my patients without hinderance of severe shortage of equipment and drugs. Back home in Botswana there were days I felt helpless because I did not have what I needed to assist a patient and sometimes watch them deteriorate in front of my eyes.
“One of my goals is to take the services to the people because the waiting period to be seen by a specialist in Botswana is one to two years for gynae patients and if you need an operation, one waits another year for that.
“As a result, I started and oversaw an OBGYN outreach program that I want to go and expand to cover the whole country and eventually liaise with the continent and the rest of world to take the services to the people."
The expectation for the women who receive the Margaret McNamara Education Grant is that they remain committed to improving the well-being of women and children. And Maruza, who enjoys reading, jogging and cooking in her spare time, certainly fits the bill with her most important goal being to improve maternal and neonatal survival.
“I am amazed with the way in which a single living cell starts to grow, turning into a human being. I believe that this is a real miracle offered by nature."