By Twinomucunguzi John-Bosco
Growing up, my parents wanted me to become a teacher in future. More than 30 years back, my father got an accident and was rushed to Mutolere hospital, Kisoro district.
The nurses welcomed us, and cared for him till he recovered a week thereafter, and he was then discharged in a good condition.
I admired the way the nurses cared for him, and it’s from that time that I started chasing my dream career of becoming a nurse.
After completion of ordinary level, I then went to ask for a vacancy at Mutolere nursing school. Unfortunately, I wasn’t called for interviews, however, I didn’t lose hope despite the fact that my parents never wanted me to become a nurse because I am a male.
My parents only knew that for one to become a nurse, one must be female. I then tried Kabale comprehensive nursing school after being advised by one of my former teacher, and in here, they were not accepting any further applications. I felt like giving up but my inner me told me “JB, you can make it!”.
While still in that dilemma, another friend of mine informed me about the vacancies at Kabale institute of health sciences (KIHS). Reaching there, I found it was their last day of conducting interviews. They actually welcomed me and registered me for interviews on that same day, to which I passed and was accepted to pursue a certificate in enrolled comprehensive Nursing. All this was done by myself without the support of my parents as they never ever thought males can become nurses.
My main worry was on where to get tuition from since my parents never liked my choice of pursuing this course.
However, with counselling received from our family friends, my parents accepted to support me with tuition. However, I was advised to try another nursing institution but with much lower tuition. Fortunately, I applied at Kampala international university (KIU) for the same course and was admitted. My parents then sold land in-order to raise my tuition. On 14th Feb 2012, I started my journey to KIU with school fees.
While in a taxi, I was put on a gun point, robbed and all my belongings including tuition were all stolen by unknown men. This now stressed me further. I then walked over 50km back home hopeless knowing that I had lost my nursing career to an extent of wishing to commit suicide and to die .
I was depressed for over two weeks, till my mother decided to borrow 1.5m from one of her women’s’ Sacco for tuition and supported me.
On 14th April 2012, I now reported to KIU for first semester however, this wasn’t easy since my parents hadn’t given me any upkeep money to an extent of spending nights in class since I had no rent money.
In 2013, I dropped half way, started working as porter at one of the nearby construction sites for 3 months, and all this was because I needed to raise money for other semesters, rent and food. I then continued up to November 2014 when I did my final exams and successfully passed.
After completion of my nursing school, I was lucky I got a clinical job immediately in one of the HIV/AIDS NGOs in Uganda. It was then that I realized that the nursing profession is one of those disrespected professions yet nurses are Gods on earth since they care and save lives. I wondered. Sick people are vulnerable and their recovery lies on the nursing care provided. I said to myself “I must become a better nurse, respected and loved by my patients”. I also realized that nurse’s salary was low compared to other health professionals. With this, in 2020, I made a decision to upgrade for diploma in Nursing at KIU again in-order to gain more knowledge and advance my skills.
Currently, I am in my 2nd year of the diploma Nursing program, while working at the same time. From my journey and experience, I request the Ministry of Education and Sports and government of Uganda to add more scholarships for vulnerable student nurses and midwives to pursue their education successfully. I also recommend the Ministry of Health and private health institutions plus NGOs to increase the salary of nurses and midwives. I believe all this will motivate us the nurses and midwives more to even perform better.
The author is an Enrolled Nurse working with Ntungamo Health Centre IV, Ntungamo District.