At 69 years old, Sister Venus Nangu is working as a locum in the health sector and assisting with the vaccination drive at the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) on-campus vaccination site.
Nangu started working as a nurse in 1975 at the Livingstone Hospital in Gqeberha, formerly known as Port Elizabeth.
“My parents did not have money to send me to Fort Hare University, so I applied for nursing. It was common at that time to go into nursing, teaching or the police force. Today, young people can study anything, and I would encourage the youth to go to university,” says Nangu.
Nangu has worked at most of the day hospitals in the Cape Metro and was one of the first nurses to work at Site B Community Health Clinic when it opened in 1985.
In 1994, at the age of 42 years old, Nangu enrolled for the Nursing Administration qualification at UWC and completed the course part-time over two years. During her time at UWC, she was working full time and it took a lot of effort to stay motivated and complete her studies.
“I was working at Gugulethu Clinic. My shifts were from 7am until 4pm and I was attending classes in the evenings three days a week,” says Nangu.
She has always been eager to learn new skills and this is a quality she tries to pass down to her children and grandchildren too.
“As young nurses, we were learning so many things from the doctors, even if those things were outside our scope of work. They called us mini-doctors.”
By the time she retired in 2010, Nangu had 35 years’ service in the public healthcare sector. Today, Nangu is still an active member of the community and she drives her granddaughter to school every day.
“I don’t want to sit still. That is not for me. I thank God because He gives me good health and strength to get up for work, and I will only stop when He says so.”