Martha Bikwelo, from the Democratic Republic of Congo

What is your name and what is your country of birth?

I am Martha Bikwelo, from the DRC.

Why did you decide to come to South Africa?

I did not choose to be here in South Africa, but I came in 2010. I was in the west of the country. But first, I moved to the east part of the DRC because there was war and I thought maybe I can help. What I saw in Goma [eastern DRC] I could not believe. I can’t even explain it. I just feel fear. I lost my mother. So when I left, I was just following people, not knowing where I was really going. I found myself landing in South Africa, I did not plan to come here.

What are you doing currently?

I am a proffessional nurse, but it is very difficult to get a job here in South Africa.

Do you have family in South Africa?

Yes I have two children: 7 years old, and 9 years old. They are now in Congo. My family passed away.

What are your plans for the future here in SA?

I have refugee status, but here it is very difficult to find a job. I think maybe I should go back home, maybe I could find a job there. I applied to the Nursing Council, but up to now I have not received any news. Last year I went to [South African National Council on Alcoholism] SANCA, and they said is it was the last year that South Africa was taking foreign nationals. It’s even difficult to get the domestic work. I once had a domestic worker job, and one morning I collapsed and they called an ambulance. When I called my boss he fired me. They just take advantage of you. Now I dont have a job.

Please share the experience that you have in South Africa.

I am not being bias, but what is happening, its unfair, and its inhuman. You can see it. One policeman said to me, “you are coming to take our job”. They have hatred. I did not plan to come to take their job. I know I come as a ‘foreigner’ here, but being here and working here as a nurse, who will benefit? South Africans will benefit, because it is a skill needed in South Africa.

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