“I had dreamed of being a nurse since grade 11,” says Zamani Dlamini (31). “In our community, in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal, there were so many people who were sick and needed help.”
One of those people was his grandmother, who had diabetes. Dlamini’s parents separated when he was young and he was raised by his grandmother and grandfather, who was a bush mechanic. Nursing his sickly grandmother inspired him with the desire to one day get a nursing qualification.
But after matric in 2000 “life was difficult” and there was certainly no money to study. “I went to Johannesburg to search for work. I applied at the mines, but they said I was too young.”
Dlamini ended up becoming a taxi driver in 2003. “I was still dreaming of being a nurse and helping those in need. If a nurse got into my taxi, I would chat a lot.”
Dlamini’s father came up with a lump sum to help his son and, in 2007, Dlamini heard of a bursary given by the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation (UYDF) – originally Friends of Mosvold Scholarship Scheme – established in Ingwavuma to give rural youngsters a chance to become healthcare professionals.
Despite never having used a computer before, Dlamini excelled; he was the best UYDF student in 2009, as well as the top nursing student in the university.
He achieved a total of 19 distinctions by the time he qualified. In 2013, he got a permanent position at Hlabisa Hospital in his home town and was soon asked to co-ordinate in-service training.
He is also a co-ordinator of the UYDF scholarship scheme and speaks proudly of the students he has helped to get a university qualification.
“I am interested in research in nursing,” Dlamini says, adding that he now has a new dream – to open a hospice with mobile clinics to provide home-based care to sick people in the area. — Mandi Smallhorne