Gloria was born in 1944 in Malawi. Coming from a family of healthcare workers, Gloria moved to the UK in 1967. She worked for the NHS for seven years before moving back to Malawi, eventually establishing her own schools for children whose parents were busy nursing. She retired in 2005 and still lives in Malawi. In her interview, Gloria talks about her early life in Malawi, the challenges and positive experiences from her time in England, and her career after returning to Malawi.
Ah, yes they gave us families to visit, to learn about the culture. I think that was important. It was two weeks during our holidays when they would say well in Kent, In Brighton, different places (unintelligible) and we learned a lot from those families. I think they used volunteers. What do they call them now, (unintelligible)…WMCA.
I find that question very hard, I said oh my goodness **Laughs**. Well I thought the hardest part was in training was to lose a young patient when we didn’t expect it. I think. That’s all I can think of.
The sisters on the ward were very good because we sit, they had to sit us down and say ' this is what (unintelligible) work. There are some things we did, most of the things in nursing, in medicine (unintelligible) (Int. umhm) (so that was that subject).
Oh yeah, there is a wider difference. To start with, we don’t have facilties for training nurses in Malawi. That was my observation even when I go to back in 1974, we had a long way to catch up to British standards, because of our facilities. Even relating to staff, we were very understaffed, very. (Unintelligible) I remember, one time, I even spoke to one of the tutors at one of the big hospitals. She was Irish, but I remember her thinking we were just overstretched. They said the nurses were being cruel, I said yes we are teaching them to be cruel, there is no way for us to manage the neighbourhood, with 30 patients, take deliveries at night. It’s not on.
I just have a passion for babies, and I thought of the working mothers who were leaving their babies home with a 15-year-old [nanny] and I had retired from nursing at this point so I thought I would put some of my nursing experience and expertise in a different way. I saw that there was a need here in Malawi to support mothers to be able to return to work but also know that their children are well looked after and taught by teachers. So I initially opened I opened a day-minder and when the children started reaching 4, 5 years old and their parents prompted me to open a primary school.
At first it was a big job, but you know they sat me down and told me what they wanted out of the nursery school. We would meet and they would say ‘You can do do this, you can do that, you are a nurse, you can do it. Get a good headmaster, get good teachers, you’d be the administrator”. I threw my whole self into it as it was a big job actually – from constructing the buildings, hiring teachers and establishing a school governance structure. At times it seemed a little overwhelming but then a parent would ask how the school was coming along And that gave me the drive to keep going and open the primary school and then the secondary school. I had all the support from the parents.
Advice to young people
My advice to the young generation is they must think big, dream big and work harder than any generation before. Nothing comes from nothing, somebody say that, nothing comes from nothing, so we need to think big, work hard, use our time whilst we are still young. After the age of 60, you don’t have to worry about what you have done when you were 40. So that’s my advice, think big.
Family and Motherhood
Ida my firstborn Ida was born in the UK. Sara port Stephen were born in Malawi. Right.
I did find that question really interesting. Was ... I did leave my nursing career but my nursing career gave me the confidence and independence to be able to achieve my dreams. I opened a day-minder. I opened a day primary school. And I opened a (unintelligible) school and I was the matron of that school. And it all came from my nursing training. So even up to this day, I still teach about health. I still (unintelligible) the nursing school. I fit it in. So I'm still doing my nursing here and there.
Actually, I started with a dayminder. I just have a passion for babies and I thought of the mothers who are living with the babies home with the 15 years old and thinking that they were being taken care of. I saw there was need in Malawi for that. So I opened up a dayminder and as the children started growing 4, 5 the college made open in the primary school. I found it was a bigger young but it was (unintelligible) you can do this, you can do that, you can do that, you aint nuts you can do it. (Name) is a good husband, (Name) is a good teacher. You don’t know what you’re missing with the money. You’ve got something in you, a potential in you. God has give me the drive to go and open with lots of support from the parents.
Identity & African community in Britain
It was the right time it was so I don't know ....so cautious Always. Always been that country and I did. for 26 years I've been travelling in and out of UK because of why my husband had a good job so we're always between Europe everywhere in Europe, including the UK. So under the children opinion there is in more than 25 years. So I was there no sin to their welfare when they were with their studies or study University everywhere. So I've always been there. So that is my second home to be honest. Yeah.
I went through the embassy. Oh, yes, it was the, the way. I had some problems. They were problem solvers. And they made sure that they looked into our affair in a way that was close way away. At time we know that being in the UK, we are not alone. You know, this embassy is a political body isn't it? So we knew that we belong to Malawi embassy for anything, everything. Our parents were there. That's the embassy.