I was born into poverty. At times living with seven people sharing one room with no running water or electricity. The bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, living room and dining room were all in this one miserable space under a corrugated zinc roof.  We sometimes had poor quality food, and sometimes we did not have food for days. There was crime everywhere, teenage pregnancies were the norm, and for decades nothing changed. Boys became gangsters, girls became teenage moms, and the cycle continued.

This is a journey to inspire you to boldly step forward, climb mountains, walk barefoot if needed – to arrive at your destination.

imprinted hands on old window pane

From an incredibly early age, as soon as I could read, I escaped into books mom brought back from her job as a hotel maid. She noticed my unwavering passion for books, reading in candlelight until the early hours of the morning before setting off to school. I read whilst walking, eating – I read pretty much constantly. I read magazines, novels, newspapers, anything, and everything written. I absorbed it all, always lost in an imaginary world.  I even learnt the dictionary.  This was my escape from my reality.  I frequently teleported myself to far flung exotic destinations, envisioned living in luxurious settings, sitting atop beautiful mountains, and lounging on golden beaches. I plied my little sister incessantly to share these dreams.

One day, I was sat in the dirt reading; when I realised that to live the created dream, I could not remain poor. I had no heroines that looked like me in those hundreds of books I absorbed.

 I knew this was a war, and I had to win. I naturally excelled in school despite not having the study materials; and was often derided as trying to be better than I was.  I decided my brain was my ticket and I would use it to travel and see the world.

There are enormous obstacles when you are truly poor, but I learnt to circumnavigate. I did not finish college due to family circumstances and my dreams could have died; but I did not give up. I decided I must travel or at least meet people who are very well travelled, whilst earning to survive.  300 applications later, and I landed a job within the airline industry. I learnt a lot and was able to travel, but I was not where I wanted to be.  I was now married to someone as ambitious as me.

Now still young, pregnant and with a young son in tow we left for Europe. We had no plans, no professional qualifications, no housing, and no family to speak of, with savings of only £50. This was a big gamble, but because I was ambitious, I believed I could do anything.

I survived homelessness. Then, I applied for nursing school as I could not apply to medical school at the time. I was asked at an interview if I could do this with a 2month old and a 3yr old. Nevertheless, I went to nursing school by day and worked at night with two young boys, (who by the way are simply awesome young men now)

Some of my classmates decided to opt for “easy” roles but I decided on ITU as I felt this was more of a challenge for my overstimulated brain and would prepare me for medical school.  I knew I could become a doctor as I had the tenacity, and moreover, a sense of purpose.  I applied to medical school with no suitable qualifications, and of course was declined.

I was determined I would climb higher and I put my brain to use again to get those qualifications. I worked in ITU at night and finished the degree I needed by day. I went to medical school despite the odds, still working as a nurse in the ER by night and weekends to make ends meet.  I survived it all, and I’m a doctor now.  Although I was told countless times this was impossible.

window in old stone house

This a snapshot of my journey I wanted to share with you.

"Never let anyone steal your dreams and when you have achieved your dreams, help someone else realise their own.

We are all in this together, no matter where on the journey you are. ”

VERONA