“I came to Ireland from Zimbabwe as an asylum seeker in December 2016. At first, it was a bit of a culture shock. It was so cold that winter, I wore a puffer jacket all the time, even in the house!
Soon after I arrived, I started studying a Level 5 course in healthcare, and our modules in dealing with dementia and schizophrenia grew my interest in mental health nursing. I didn’t then have the papers to work, but I went on to do a Level 6 course in Coolock, and later applied to study Nursing at DCU. When I was accepted, I was delighted. This is where my dream is, and I was determined not to let the fees stand in my way.
I first heard about the University of Sanctuary programme when I applied to DCU. Even though I had some savings before I left Zimbabwe, I certainly didn’t have anything close to the €18,000 needed to pay international student fees.
“But I wanted to become someone and make a difference, so I wasn’t going to let money stop me.”
I talked to the International Admissions Office, and they were able to help me, and in second year I was accepted into the University of Sanctuary programme. Through the University of Sanctuary programme, I was able to get a laptop and financial support. Thanks to that support, I’m not always stressed and I’m able to get the school supplies I need. We get lunch vouchers too, so I always have food at college, and it really helps out.
I chose to study Mental Health Nursing at DCU because it is close to my heart. Where I come from, people have challenges with mental health, but they don’t address it. There isn’t as much education about mental health back home, and there are a lot of stereotypes around it.
I’m on my final-year placement now with the Phoenix Care Centre in Grangegorman. Reflecting on where I started, I can see how far I’ve come. My journey is easier now that I’m not worried about fees. It was sometimes challenging to balance college work with placement work, especially when I was also working part-time as a Project Worker with the Peter McVerry Trust. But I was able to help people out as they navigate life, and navigate homelessness and addiction.
After my course, I hope I’ll be able to keep working in mental health services. I will need a few years’ experience before I apply for a Master’s, but I’m looking into different opportunities.
I would like to thank the people who have donated to this programme. To have this opportunity makes such a huge difference. It is usually financial problems that cause people to drop out, but now everything is taken care of. It means a lot to grant us that security, where all we need to do for a better life is to study, without worrying about tuition fees and what you have to eat.
There are different ways people empower themselves, but I think education can give everyone a chance in life.”