19-year-old female mortuary attendant sends tongues wagging


Sabrina Gharib, 19, works as a morgue attendant at Tumbi Referral Regional Hospital at Kibaha District in Tanzania, and social media is amazed.

Mourners who take their loved ones’ bodies to the facility for preservation often speak in hushed tones when they see Sabrina at work.

“When we took our loved one’s body to Tumbi Hospital, we heard mourners talking about a young girl who works as a morgue attendant at the hospital. I found it hard to believe their statements, until I saw her. She served us very well,” a source told Uwazi newspaper.

Sabrina says she opted for this career path when she realized that securing employment in nursing – a course that she had originally enrolled for – was difficult.

“I decided to be a morgue assistant because such a job is readily available. I was the only girl in my classroom studying the course. During my first practical dissection lesson, I shed tears because I thought I was hurting the dead. However, my teacher urged me to remain strong – assuring me that the person was lifeless, hence does not feel any pain,” Sabrina told the outlet.

The head of communications at the hospital, Lucy Semindu, says Sabrina has done a good job and applauded her for her courage.

“She has set a good example to all young women – Sabrina is a testimony that women can also perform work deemed to be for men,” said Lucy.

Francis Kobelo, one of the managers attached to Tumbi Hospital’s mortuary section, said Sabrina is professional in her work.

“When you tell her to do something, she does not object. A completely deformed body can be brought to the facility, and when you direct her on what to do, you will find she has done a commendable job,” said Mr Kobelo.

Sabrina’s mother, Asha Ramadhani, said she was confused when her firstborn daughter (Sabrina) informed her about her passion.

“I asked my daughter: ‘do you want to run mad? I had no choice but to let her pursue her education,” Asha said.

Following in the footsteps of Kenya’s Grace Kisira

Sabrina’s career is similar to that of Kenya’s Grace Kisira who is believed to be among the country’s long serving female morgue attendants.

Ms Kisira took up the job in early 2008 at the City Mortuary.

In the recent past; the job has not only been attracting a good number of men, but an increasing number of women as well due to biting unemployment in the formal sector.

In 2011, Ms Kisira was joined by three other women who also worked as morgue attendants at the City Mortuary.

The mortuary attendant’s job was not Ms Kisira’s first experience in handling the dead. She had worked at Lang’ata cemetery where she helped with digging graves and burying the dead.

The job entails: washing, treating and helping in the disposal of unclaimed bodies.

Depression and derogatory names associated with the job made Kenya’s foremost mortuary female attendant resign after only two hours of getting employed in 1995.



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