From a Tailor to a Nurse

Keep working towards your dreams, take opportunities as they come and don’t worry if you have to take the long way round, says Mary Namukisa.

I always loved being a medical professional and it was all I had dreamt of since childhood. However, achieving this dream was not easy because of my family’s financial constraints. My father died when I was in the last year of primary and all my mother could do was to support me to complete primary.

I was 13 years old when I completed primary school and my mother could not afford to see me at home when other kids were at school. She took me to a vocational institute where I did tailoring but unfortunately we couldn’t afford a sewing machine.

I tried to do all kinds of jobs, with the aim of saving up for a  sewing machine, including gardening, vending garden products, selling snacks at school and working as a school cook. I had my mum and siblings to support and had to save a little every month to achieve my goal.

Mary in the theatre.

After one month as a school cook I was interviewed by the school administration and after finding out that I had a certificate in tailoring, I was employed as a school tailor for one year and seven months. I still had my goal to buy myself a sewing machine but the payment was too small so I had to be patient. At this point I had collected enough money to buy a sewing machine but it was the very time I got an opportunity to start secondary school. I used the money I had saved to buy school requirements.

At the age of 20, seven years after completing primary school, I was given the opportunity to start secondary.  I continued working for the school whilst studying and managed to complete my A levels with good grades that got me a government sponsorship to do a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

I successfully completed my bachelor’s degree at the age of 30 and I am currently working with Medical Research Council (MRC)/ Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Uganda Research Unit as a nursing officer. I can proudly say I am now living my childhood dream. And it is because of the tailoring course I did. It paved the way for me to achieve everything I’d ever wanted.

Mary working hard at her dream job.

 I am currently working on projects that aim at HIV prevention among adolescent girls and young women. My role is to provide HIV prevention services that include HIV Counseling and Testing services, screening and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections, provision of post and pre- exposure prophylaxis. I also screen for gender based violence, provide family planning services, counseling for alcohol and illicit drug use and any other medical service as required. Not to forget, I bought myself a sewing machine but because of busy work schedule I only use it for personal things.

I encourage all young people to have goals and work towards them. If there is any opportunity given, use it and always stay focussed because it doesn’t make sense if an opportunity hits your door and you have already given up.


Power your creative ideas with pixel-perfect design and cutting-edge technology. Create your beautiful website with Zeen now.

From a Tailor to a Nurse

by Mary Namukisa Reading time: 2 min