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Trained nurse washes bowls to earn a living

Atule Happy Atipoka watches her colleague being whisked away by the police

A trained nurse, Atule Happy Atipoka says she has to resort to washing bowls in a hotel as she waits for government’s clearance to be employed in the health sector.

Observing her from afar, one would think she is bereaved. But, she is not.

Happy Atipoka, together with her colleagues, ties red banners either around their heads or arms. They are protesting members of the Graduate Unemployed Nurses & Midwives Association (GUNNA).

The group says, members have been home for almost two years since completion of school.

President of GUNMA, Sugri Abdul-Rafiq is worried they are wallowing in abject poverty.

But for Ms Atule Happy, her hardship as an unemployed graduate appears legendary.

“[Life] has been very hard for me because I’m from the Upper East. If I had a job [employed as a nurse], I wouldn’t be here in Accra. But, because I’m not posted, I had to come here [Accra] and wash some people’s bowls,” Happy said when asked how she has been faring.

The almost teary Happy Atipoka adds, “I earn GHc20 a day of which I depend on and pay my rent of GHc10 weekly.”

Happy obviously unhappy says, the payment of utilities – electricity and water – bills further drain her purse.

But, that is not all her worries. She feels ashamed being forced by the system to shelve her certificate to wash bowls.

“We those there [referring to her roommates], you feel ashamed telling them you are a nurse. What shows you are a nurse while competing with them in washing bowls? I never show my uniform,” soberly, she said.

Members of GUNMA numbering close to 50 on October 21, picketed at the Ministry of Health to drum home the need to be financially cleared for postings.

Atule Happy Atipoka and her colleagues have nothing but hope in hoping their cry would be heard by government.


Meanwhile, five members and leaders of the association were arrested by the police.

They were arrested after ignoring an order by the police to leave the precinct of the Health Ministry.


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