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Arnaldo Vilanculos has been a doctor for more than three decades, and has had an interesting professional trajectory. He foreswore his childhood dream of becoming an economist and instead became a doctor, but before becoming an obstetrician-gynaecologist, he was a vendor at newspaper “Noticias” from the age of 12. Today, he’s heading towards retirement.
Born in Vilankulo, the eldest of a family of six brothers, he is also the father of three children. At the age of twelve, he left his home village for Maputo, to live with his uncle and continue his studies.
By this time, there was an opportunity to do something while waiting for school. “My uncle got me a job as a newspaper vendor. I sold the ‘Noticias’ in the morning and afternoon, and for the rest of the day went for science tutoring,” he says.
At the age of 18, he entered high school, at the then Joaquim de Araújo Preparatory School, currently the Estrela Vermelha Secondary School, where he completed his 3rd cycle of high school. He left his job as a newspaper vendor and entered the Ministry of Health, where he was admitted as a spraying agent at the Military Hospital of Maputo. Given his flexibility and school level, he was promoted to mixer (of the mosquito spray). In the Ministry of Health, he was also a gardener, a Ministry official, a laboratory official and a statistician. It was in the statistics sector that his passion for medicine was born.
“There, I dealt with numbers, but I also saw a lot that shocked me. I remember that in 1977 there was an outbreak of cholera that killed a lot of people. This made me want to save lives, ” he says.
Although he came from a humble family, in 1978, Arnaldo Vilanculos was able to enter the Faculty of Medicine of Eduardo Mondlane University, where he took the course and graduated after ten years. “With the student-worker category, at that time, only two-thirds of the seats per year were allowed, while full-time students took the course in seven years,” he explains.
After his training, he was sent to Gaza, where he worked as director of the Rural Hospital of Chókwè. In 1992, he specialised in gynaecology and obstetrics.
Today, on the eve of retirement, he says he has fulfilled his dreams. “Successful delivery is rewarding. Saving lives is the greatest reward for a doctor,” he says enthusiastically.
In the thirty years of his career as a doctor, he remembers singular episodes.
“Because of the scarcity of materials, in wartime, I had to use yarn extracted from sisal leaves to suture the stomach of a boy who had been shot in Massingir,” he said. But his memories did not stop here. Out of love for the profession, he also recovered dead babies thrown by the military into the water ditches used to irrigate agricultural fields, because they made noise when they captured their mothers.
At the age of 66, Arnaldo Vilanculos said he is trying to fight a habit he considers bad. “I go to bed too late for my age. My wife already pointed it out. But it’s hard to break the habit, because I only sleep at midnight and get up at 4 o’clock in the morning, when I spend at least 10 minutes on the treadmill,” he reveals.
As for Mozambican cuisine, he says he can’t resist a plate of xima with nhangana. As for international, a good cod cooked at the Gomes de Sá.
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