Refugee-nurse

Martha is now a registered nurse working at Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce.

30 June 2020

Arriving in Australia as a teenage nursing student was incredibly daunting for Martha. She left her family, friends and world behind in Zimbabwe in pursuit of an education. The only knowledge she had of Australia was through the popular TV show ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo’.

“I remember getting onto the wrong bus because l didn’t understand the concept of outbound and inbound. There were several times l went past my stops whilst on the bus because l didn’t realise there was a stop button that l had to press. I remember crying from frustration and all l would think about was going back home,” said Martha.

Now a registered nurse working at Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce, Martha’s migration experience has motivated her to support refugees arriving in Canberra. Through the Calvary Refugee Mentoring Program, Martha has helped refugees from around the world find their feet and adapt to life in Australia.

As a mentor, Martha helps participants with communication, work experience and life skills. She also helps them network and build business relationships. Her time with participants is also used to listen, provide support and share stories together.

“l love that by giving two or three hours of my time each week, l can make a difference in someone’s life. l can be the difference between them giving up on their dream or persevering with it,” said Martha.

It was through the Mentoring Program that Martha met Nabinta, a refugee and former nurse from Sierra Leone. At just 19 years of age, Nabinta and her 11-year-old sister were captured by the rebels during the civil war. They managed to escape to the Republic of Guinea, where they spent four years in a refugee camp and three years living outside the camps with little hope for the future.

In 2004 Nabinta, her two-year-old son and her sister were granted refugee status in Australia. “The happiness we felt was overwhelming. Finally, we had hope and freedom of spirit,” said Nabinta.

Her time with Martha in the Mentoring Program helped her to continue a nursing career in Australia. In fact, the placement was so successful, that she found a job as an assistant nurse immediately after it finished.

“The program reminded me why I love nursing. Martha was a wonderful mentor and very patient. She has a good heart; she’ll listen to your story and help you find the path that’s right for you.”

The pair have remained good friends beyond the Mentoring Program and keep in touch regularly.

All Canberra

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