Edinburgh Global

Africa Week 2018

As part of Africa Week 2018, we spoke to four University of Edinburgh students from across the African continent to highlight their life experiences.

Angus Fayia Tengbeh

“I joined MSF, Medecins Sans Frontieres, because they had a treatment centre in Bo. Firstly I was working as support staff. When the Ebola outbreak happened they needed people from all backgrounds to do the work, because people weren’t really eager to do the work when they started at first. I worked with the supply team, supplying all items from medical to non-medical. Later in the outbreak I was trained as a water sanitation manager, so that was basically being in charge of hygienists, who were working in the red zone of the Ebola treatment centre. People called it an unseen enemy we were fighting, and at that time some of our colleagues were dying. The guy that called me to offer me the interview, he died doing active jobs, so these were the things that made most of us traumatised and not motivated to work, but with all these things you still have to do it - if you don’t nobody would. In the treatment centre it was just like working on the battlefield. You can’t trust anyone! I have a background in public health, but I want to make sure health care systems are strong through policies, and that these are implemented effectively. That was what led me to do global health policy here. If the healthcare system is strong, the country will progress. The moment they are sick, all the other aspects of a country will be sick.”

Angus Fayia Tengbeh, Sierra Leone

Tumi Akeke

“I come from a family with nine children. I have eight siblings. I lost my father in 2014. It was a very tough time, and created a very high workload for my mum. My brother is sickle cell anaemic. When I lost my father it meant that my mum had to try to pay for my last three years of secondary school, but she couldn’t. I was able to find a scholarship and I graduated last year. Then I applied for the Mastercard Foundation scholarship, and I got it. Why am I studying biological sciences? My brother. I also lost a friend to leukaemia, so I’m interested in health, researching sickle cell and cancer. I want to have in depth knowledge, I want to know how the cells interact and then be able to apply it. I may go into medicine or research. I know what my mother went through and I want to give people a chance to live a better life. One thing I would never forget to add about Edinburgh is the support system. It’s amazing, you have the counselling service, the advice place, your personal tutor, your reflection coach. It’s just amazing, the Mastercard foundation as well, they’ve been very supportive too. The opportunities here as well, you can study, volunteer, do a sport. You do what you love, you do what you’re passionate about.”

Tumi Akeke, Nigeria

Nick Brimacombe

“My sister studied here for four years before I did, and she told me to get out there, never just sit at home and do nothing, to make the most of it. I’ve played rugby pretty much all my life, since I was maybe eight or nine years old or so. I have a really close friend, Adam, who’s in second year this year, and he played rugby last year. He got in touch with me and said come to pre-season, these are the dates. I went and the Varsity match just happened from there. It was definitely a step up. School rugby was tough but it was a big step up. My first game was against Northumbria in a pre-season game, and they were in the league above us, so I jumped in the deep end. It was a scary experience but it was really cool. Once you’ve had the first one, you get used to it. It was about getting that experience under your belt. I think Varsity was my third one so by then you’re comfortable with the team and you know who you’re playing with, it makes it easier. My rugby career influences the rest of my life through the people side of things. Through rugby I’ve made a lot of really close friends - coming here and knowing no-one, I walked into a club and I knew one person out of 50 at pre-season. Now some of them are really good mates of mine, so you should just always be open and friendly. They’re all really good to me and next year, if someone comes in and they’re in the same situation, I know how they feel and how it was to be treated nicely, so you know the other guy wants the same thing. It’s about respect. Someone else helped you, and it made it easier for you, so you should do that in return.”

Nick Brimacombe, South Africa

Adwoa Appiah

"Before I completed high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a lot of reasons, including financial. An opportunity came for girls who were interested in physics and maths to study A-levels under full scholarships, so I applied and was accepted. I did A-levels in physics, maths and further maths in ten months, instead of two years. It was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had, but my good results made me excited. I was so pleased when I found out that Edinburgh were offering scholarships. I’m studying software engineering – I got interested in computing when I was doing my A-levels. Something I want to work on is to solve a problem back home in Ghana. Many people have phones but don’t know how to use them, especially smartphones, and especially older people or those with less education. They need people to help them make phone calls and send text messages, and there are a lot of other things they could use their phone for but they don’t know how to do that. I want to create software that would make it easy for them to use phones, and in their own languages too. I feel like a lot of people are left behind.”

Adwoa Appiah, Ghana