Refugee Achieves Dream Of Becoming NHS Nurse After Being Inspired To Help Others
Justin Mwange, now 40, had fled to Zambia from war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo when he was a teenager, and spent several years living in poverty and deprivation at the camp with his family.
Justin had watched men, women and children dying right in front of him, as they had not been able to get the medical attention they so vitally needed - distressing scenes that would prove to fuel his passion for helping those in need.
He decided he was determined to become a nurse, despite having no formal education and no access to financial support.
But against all odds, Justin made it - and has now been nominated for a national award by Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, having impressed staff throughout his placements at Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital.
Justin said: "Being in a refugee camp for seven years, I lost my self-esteem and self-confidence of achieving anything in my life.
"I always see myself at the bottom of the queue and as the weakest link in anything.
"Just being nominated for the award has raised my self-confidence and self-esteem."
While in the refugee camp, Justin had volunteered as a support worker with Medecins Sans Frontieres, helping people with malnutrition by monitoring blood sugars, weighing patients and distributing extra food parcels to the vulnerable.
Although fluent in French and Swahili, when he arrived in the UK with his wife in 2007 as part of a refugee resettlement programme, Justin spoke little English.
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But he moved up to Hull and started English classes while working in a factory, and completed an English as a Foreign Language programme at Hull University.
He went to study social work and graduated with a 2:1 as a social worker in 2012, working as a care assistant for a while before eventually enrolling to study nursing in 2016.
While completing his Bachelor of Science nursing degree, Justin has also been working at Hull Royal and Castel Hill Hospital on placements, and has also helped form a support group for Congolese refugees with the Jubilee Church.
As if that isn't enough, he contributes to a shared savings pot that supports families struggling with bereavement or financial problems.
Now, Justin has been nominated for a Chief Nursing Officer's award in the category of BME Student Diversity.
He was nominated by Vicky Needler, Practice Learning Facilitator of the trust, who said Justin was able to help a patient from Africa while training on the Infectious Diseases ward - using their common language and understanding of the patient's background to help with treatment.
Needler said: "Justin is an outstanding individual who has overcome more than most people could ever imagine to achieve his aims of becoming a nurse.
"Justin will be joining the team on Ward 10 at Castle Hill after qualifying as a registered nurse and he will be such as asset to patient care.
"He shows such compassion to patients and we are certain he will become an excellent nurse. We are very lucky to have had him with us throughout his studies and he is destined for a fantastic nursing career."
Justin added: "It was a long journey to get to where I am now and I am feeling very proud to fulfil my ambition of becoming a nurse.
"My contribution, however little, if it makes a difference in people's lives, will be a big achievement in my life. I just hope this new career works for me so that can put a smile of people's faces."
Featured Image Credit: NHS