Kristine Fagereng (née Höihilder) was a missionary nurse-midwife for nearly a half-century in southwest Madagascar. Her endurance made quite an impression on her male colleagues.
Kristine Höihilder was born on February 6, 1868, in Fusa, Norway. In 1893, she was sent to the west coast of Madagascar as a medical missionary with the Lutheran Norwegian Missionary Society (NMS).
She worked in Morondava until 1895, when she married Pastor Edvard Fagereng, who was working in Tulear. Her husband soon fell gravely ill, and in 1896 they returned to Norway, where he died in 1899.
In the meantime, lepers began to gather near the mission station in Morondava, seeking treatment. The NMS could not ignore their plight, so they called on Kristine Fagereng to come and care for them. In 1903 she returned to Morondava, leaving behind her four year old son, Edvin.
Kristine Fagereng founded a leprosarium in Bekoaka, near the city, and directed the work there until 1920. At the same time, from 1905 to 1909, she also was in charge of a boarding school for girls in Morondava. In 1922 she was sent to Tulear, and from 1923 to 1928, she went to Morombe with her son, Edvin Fagereng, who had become a missionary pastor. Finally, from 1930 to 1936, she went to work in Manombo, alone.
Her love for the Malagasy people, her self-denial, and her ability to work long hours untiringly were an example to her colleagues. A simple person, she made her rounds along the many hot pathways in an ox-drawn cart, even after the advent of the automobile.
She returned to Norway in 1937 and died in Oslo on September 23, 1956.
O. Chr. Dahl, L. Molet
The above article, reprinted here by permission, is from Hommes et Destins: Dictionnaire biographique d’Outre-Mer [People and Destinies: an Overseas Biographical Dictionary], vol. 3, published in 1977 by the Académie des Sciences d’Outre-Mer (15, rue la Pérouse, 75116 Paris, France). All rights reserved.