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A HIDDEN HISTORY:
African Women and the
British Health Service

1930–2000

Mukai Moyo

Mukai Moyo is a nurse who began her career in 1986 in Zimbabwe, later moving to England with her husband and two sons in 2002. In her interview, she shares her experience training with the NHS and her struggles as an African immigrant in the UK. Mukai also discusses the importance of having diversity among NHS workers and encourages more young people to join the nursing profession.

MOTIVATION TO WORK IN HEALTHCARE

"In African culture, you look after your siblings and you help your mum here and there. I always had a passion of looking after the sick. I had aunty who was just a carer working at amission hospital. I used to visit her and I saw how she looked after the sick and thats my passion grow and I really wanted to do nursing."


TRAINING

"I trained in Zimbabwe, I started in January 1983 and I finished there, it was a three year program. I finished in November 1985 and then I started working in '86 in January."


MIGRATION

"I never wanted to be out of my country anyway, but situations and circumstances pushed us to be where we are here now today, looking for greener pastures. When you are going to an unknown country, [you feel] fear of the unknown. 'How am I going to settle?', 'How am I going to make it?', 'How am I going to work?', 'Am I going to manage?' All those things you ask yourself. 'Is this the right thing?' 'Is this the right move?', 'Am I doing the right thing to do this?' You have the fear of the unknown and also fear that have left the children at home, left your husband. You also think 'Are they going to be okay without a mum?', 'Is this the right thing?', or 'What shall I do really?'"


IDENTITY

"I don’t have two identities. I am still an African, a Zimbabwean, and my children are Zimbabwean. We have stayed here quite a long time, especially my youngest did all his education here. So they know who they are and they know their identity. We have told [them], they know their roots and where they come from. They know their mother’s language and they speak it. They know English very well which is quite good and they speak it. We are proud to be Zimbabweans."


ADVICE TO YOUNG PEOPLE

"Nursing is quite a good profession, so I encourage the young people, young black Caribbean, young black persons to join the profession. It's a call of duty, a call to save, a call to help people. You have to be passionate about it. It’s quite rewarding when you see what you have done. It needs perseverance to hold on, to focus, and to achieve the goals that you want to achieve.  Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be derailed."


"Choose the right people. The right mates. People who don’t discourage you, who build you rather than destroy you. You need those people in your life."


"Wherever we are, we need to save our nation, save the United Kingdom, we need to save the people, we need to save the sick. We need to help. We need many people to come and help. We are getting older and we are going to retire very soon. They are going to be the nurses and the profession of tomorrow."

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