Japa Story: Nigeria's horrible healthcare system forced me to move my family to Australia

In 2022, with money that she had scraped from her family, and her savings depleted, Sekinat relocated with her husband and two children to the city of Adelaide in South Australia.

Image generated using the AI model DALL·E

So in 2020, with advice from her husband, she started looking for alternatives, a country with a better healthcare system for herself and her family.

For her it was Australia. In 2022, with money that she had scraped from her family, and her savings depleted, she was able to relocate with her husband and two children to the city of Adelaide in South Australia.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

How long did the whole process of relocation take?

It took close to a year because it was at the peak of the pandemic that we started the application process and Australia was on full lockdown. Even when other countries opened their borders, Australia didn’t open its international borders until December 2021. I started the process around October 2020, and I got into the country in the first quarter of 2022.

How much did it cost?

I spent about ₦5 million. I paid school fees and insurance. But the exchange rate was better at the time I paid. The US dollar was still around ₦450 and the Australian dollar was just ₦250. Now one Australian dollar is about ₦1,000.

The flight ticket for a family of four was ₦2.5 million at the time. Now that’s the amount a single person will pay for air travel from Lagos to Australia.

How were you able to raise this money?

Honestly, it was God and my husband who supported the journey. My husband is my sugar daddy. Also, my family came in and supported me. I also had to dip into my savings as well. It was a lot.

What route did you go with?

I went through the education route. It’s so funny. I had studied accounting in Nigeria and I was obviously going to pursue that with a master's in Australia. When I got here I decided to switch courses to nursing.

It’s no secret that the immigration policies of many countries are biased towards healthcare professionals. I realised this firsthand when I got here and decided to swap to what will be a more rewarding career path.

In Australia, there is a shortage of nurses, so the government tries to prioritise nurses when it comes to who gets permanent resident status and citizenship. Even more so, working as a nurse helps accelerate permanent residency approval as well.

What was your first day in Australia like?

I only knew one person in the entire country. They helped me book an Airbnb where I stayed with my family. I had to start life afresh. In my first week, I opened an Australian bank account and got a new SIM card. I resumed school in my first week as well. While all of this was happening, I was also thinking of finding a job and a stable accommodation.

Having information will be definitely useful for anyone looking to come to Australia. My husband got a job doing deliveries in our second week in the country. I got a job in my third week but I couldn’t resume because of some documentation that I needed. It was as a disability support worker. Mind you we had only held corporate jobs in Nigeria. It was a huge adjustment.

I now work as an assistant nurse or as they call it, Assistant in Nursing (AIN) in a hospital. I’m still in school, so it’s the best I can get now. When I graduate, I’ll become a registered nurse and find something better.

Have you ever experienced racism here?

Racism who? Not to discount the experience of people who have experienced racism, but I am too focused on work. I just go after my goals and I block negativity, besides, even in Naija there are ethnic and religious biases that you experience every day.

Do you miss Nigeria?

I miss some Nigerian food and Lagos party.

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