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.
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.
I never wanted to be out of my country anyway but er situations and circumstances pushed us to be where we are here now today, looking for greener pastures and so many things.
When you are going to an unknow country, (you get) 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? yeah you have the fear of the unknown and also fear of you 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? what shall I do really? Also having been in the profession for quite a long time, you feel ahhh you still needed, you had some hopes and some things that you really wanted to accomplish in your life work wise.
Honestly when you come to England you can’t eat the food you don’t know where to shop, you don’t know where the bus is. All those things you have to learn even when you go, you take your children for the um the they call you parents evening, uh and they tell you how your children are doing. Some of the things, it was like Ah, you don’t even understand it honestly. They talk about the progress, the children’s progress, you don’t understand, you need a third person really to say when they say this they mean this and this and this. But I didn’t have that. So sometimes you feel guilty. The way I said ‘Oh God, maybe I didn’t more, what I should have done as a parent for… the first two boys, maybe you should have supported them more but unfortunate we didn’t understand the way of the education system here, even to help them with their homeworks, we didn’t even understand exactly what it really meant. No body really like… I know we should have asked but you ask what you really… when you know you don’t know but its was just like everything was just like a bombshell, a nightmare really.
So all those things you had to learn and it was a lot. When you talk to somebody, ‘Ah those simple things’ they are not simple when you are in a foreign country. Even to look in, when you go to the shops, one of the shops and look at a tin of um, beans you say ‘Why is the beans this one and the baked beans is that one?’ and ‘Why is bread that one and bread is that one?’. Back home you only had one type of thing, but here twenty different types so…so which one shall I take? Which one is better? You don’t know. So all those things you learn gradually and also things like food, things like um, computer things, gadget. I was born before the computer I really need to enrol myself to learn with the computers for beginners and then I did another course so that I would be able to write and do things, so I really put myself into learning. I didn’t know how to drive so I had to say to myself I have to learn how to drive. So I learned in this country so I learned quite a lot. Even in my career as a nurse, I also had to go to further myself with education. I didn’t have a degree. But when I came here I learned I had an opportunity where I had to go to Uni and I obtained my degree. Which is quite a lot of things that I have learned. I learned a lot. I learned the language, the accent and all those things. And how people live, day to day, everyday life, (unclear) I would ask my colleague What do you mean when you say this? What do you mean when you say this? What does this say this? Can you come and help me with this? I learned all those things. It was really a lot of learning. *laughs*.
Yes, it was a hospital because we trained at the hospital, we never used to go to the uni. We trained at the hospital so we had to do like two months in the School of Nursing which was up at the hospital. Then we had to go to the wards where we're going to do, different wards we were allocated maybe four months in each Ward, each department. That's how you learn so you can do orthopaedics, do gynie, can do like a neuro, you rotate. And then after a certain time, you go back again to school today and other skills before you can go in put them into practice. In each time we had to do like tests at the School of Nursing and you have to pass that block and also when you go for the for the practicals in the wards, the supervisors in Clinical instructors that followed you and these gives you the direction and it defined it before you finish. You have to do an assessment today a practical assessment, whether it was the addressing, we have to be opposite in the end all those marks combined for you to pass that year. That's how we trained. So I have another one, it was the second year because the stripes, we had the cape which showed the stripe, a little bit of a big stripe around, like that one, it is a big stripe around. And then when I was in the second year, it is the smaller stripe, try to see two lines that one is second year. So I was in my second year there learning about injections. It's even really, that was me so many years ago, so that was ‘84 when I was learning injection. That was my second year.
Um. I don’t have two identity. I um I am still an African a Zimbabwean, and my children are Zimbabwean. We are in this country, we…. Have stayed here quite a long time especially my youngest uh is did his education or all his education here so I, um, they know who they are and they know their identity. We have told, 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. Its like a call really. It’s a call, call of duty, call to save call to help people. You have to be passionate about it. It’s quite rewarding when you see what you have done. It is its fruits; uh it needs perseverance to hold on to focus and to achieve the goals that you want to achieve in life. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be derailed. Look and just do what you need to do. And um um go out with people, we encourage you. 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. People who motivate you and your own self you should be you must be having motivation inside, in yourself to do the things that you want to do. Sometimes you feel everyday is not always the same, but you have to wake up everyday and ask yourself what are you going to do what are your goals? Plan things properly. Don’t just think things will just happen yeah and most people waste their time doing their own things. Time is money and when you lose it you really lose it. You can’t rewind it you can’t go back to it. But it doesn’t matter where you are in life, young people, whatever has happened things like you have failed, there is always a starting point. You can always start you can always do something, achieve goal, your goals. Start something, do it and achieve it. Stay focused. Nursing is a rewarding, its is a satisfying job. I like it. I encourage people to do it but sometimes ah a lot of other people that they want to do, it’s okay. But yeah we need to save. 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, uh, they are going to be the nurses and the profession of tomorrow. Yeah. Thank you.