Nursing Africa

Danny story

In his first year studying as a nurse one of Danny Nkongolo’s professors told him he made the right decision choosing such a “noble profession”.

“You are needed anywhere in the world,” the academic told the 19-year-old Nkongolo, one of the brightest students in his class in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Years later Nkongolo has proven his mentor right. Now 30, his professional journey took him to South Africa where he works as a trained nurse at the Thusong/General de la Rey Hospital in the North West.

“My dad’s plan was to send me to Canada where he had contacts,” Nkongolo says. Instead he ended up in South Africa where he is proud to be making a difference in improving the quality of healthcare services rural communities can access.

He is one of hundreds of health professionals Africa Health Placements (AHP) places annually in rural and underserved areas in South Africa to alleviate the shortages in the public health sector. Since 2005, AHP has placed more than 2 900 local and foreign-qualified healthcare workers in public healthcare facilities in southern Africa.

Leaving the French-speaking DRC for South Africa required some adjustments for Nkongolo who could only start wearing  his South African nursing uniform seven years after arriving in the country.

“When I got here I didn’t know any English at all. I could not even say hi in English.” The language barrier made it hard to write exams with the South African Nursing Council (SANC) and get employment as a nurse in South Africa. For a couple of years Nkongolo held a number of odd jobs in Gauteng. As his English improved he started the registration process with SANC. He successfully passed all the exams and a breakthrough came when he read about AHP on an online news website and contacted them. He finally got to wear his nursing uniform in March 2013.

Nkongolo says Lichtenburg in the North West was not really where he envisioned himself working, but that the town’s rural charm has won him over.

Nkongolo hopes to make great progress in the South African health sector and study further. “Congo is a war-torn country, which is one of the reasons why we had to flee. If it wasn’t for the war, I would have stayed.

“There is a big difference between Congo and South Africa’s health sector. In South Africa the facilities and materials are better which makes it easier to work.”