When Victoria left Zimbabwe to visit the UK in 2010, she never thought that she wouldn’t be able to return home. But that is exactly the situation she found herself in. This is the story of what happened and how she has rebuilt her life with support of Prisoners of Conscience.

I am what I am thanks to the invaluable help I received from Prisoners of Conscience. I came into this country as a visitor. However, having been an activist for one of the opposition parties in Zimbabwe, I decided to organise some meetings with the UK leadership of the party I represented. My aim was to create more consciousness about the dire social and political situation in Zimbabwe at the time (incidentally, I believe since then things have got worse).

When news about the meetings got home, this annoyed the government and it led to my family being harassed and subjected to unending questioning. I was forced to stay in the UK after being advised for my own safety. This led me to seek asylum which I was thankfully granted in March 2012.

But it also meant I lost my job, which I loved so much, as a senior graduate teacher, teaching Ordinary and Advanced level students. Although I had eight years’ experience as a teacher back in Zimbabwe, I had no working experience in the UK, no reference and no UK qualifications.

I got a job as a domiciliary care worker on a zero hours contract because no qualifications were required. I earned very little money from this job to keep me going. I felt angry, especially because I could not do the job for which I had trained and could not contribute meaningfully to the UK society. I was becoming depressed and disillusioned about life more generally.

It was at this time that I heard about the Prisoners of Conscience organisation. I went online and read about the incredible work you do supporting people like me. I realised I could get in touch, and that my immigration status or where I came from were not a concern. It was then that I had the courage to apply for support.

I was very surprised but elated the day I received news that I had been awarded a study grant to undertake studies for a master’s degree in public health.

The grant I received from Prisoners of Conscience has shaped my life in a different direction. Prior to this award, I had started studying for an HND in health and social care. My idea was to find subjects I would be able to teach in Adult Education colleges. Through online research, I had realised that the minimum qualification to teach in such colleges would be a master’s degree. I completed my health and social care studies up to obtaining an honour’s degree in 2016, I then continued with a master’s degree, which I thankfully completed in 2018. The Master of Public Health led me to realise that understanding the health of an individual is a crucial first step in understanding the health of a community as well as broader health issues. Therefore, I decided to enrol for a course in Adult Nursing, which I have just completed at City University of London, 

I have just started working as staff nurse in a surgical ward at a University hospital, and I am beginning to feel that I need to deepen my knowledge as a nurse to be able to provide better and more evidence-based care to patients and their family members. I am therefore thinking about further studies: A PhD will enable me to conduct important research which will permit me to return to teaching in any school of health. 

As you can see, my life and profile have changed significantly thanks to Prisoners of Conscience’s belief in me and the opportunity and support you gave me.

If it were not for your organisation, I would not be who I am today because I was able to undertake studies without worrying about fees. I am a mother of three boys. Life would have been incredibly tough without your support. Your support also enabled me to focus on studies and to forget about my having been banished from Zimbabwe.

Prisoners of Conscience gave me a new life and I will forever be grateful. My life and achievement are a testament to the amazing work you do to change lives, offer hope where there is hopelessness, and enable and empower people like me with knowledge and skills which they can use to impact the UK society and beyond.

Would you like to help prisoners of conscience like Victoria to requalify and rebuild their lives after experiencing trauma and tyranny? Make a donation today and you can do just that.