Bothwell Kabayira, 25, is a UK-based final year medical student at the Medical University of Plovdiv in Bulgaria and the founder and president of newly-formed social charity ZAMPA – Zimbabwean Allied Medical Professional Association. ZAMPA is a platform where medical and allied health professionals of Zimbabwean origin can support, network and develop with one another and is open to all professionals and students in and around the healthcare industry in the UK.
Bothwell’s aim is that the organisation becomes the main body representing Zimbabwean healthcare workers across the UK, offers mentoring for students training for careers in healthcare and plays an integral part of a change in the Zimbabwean health-care system using the collective experience and resources gained here in the UK.
“… I didn’t want to make it just for doctors – that’s why I called it allied medical professional association because I want to bring in everyone”
He founded the organisation whilst on lockdown in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic and after becoming aware of other societies for Africans such as the Medical Association of Nigerians Across Great Britain (MANSAG) and the Ghanaian Doctors and Dentists Association (GDDA-UK). He loved what they did – charity work, conferences and seminars.
Though he was allowed to join because they don’t discriminate, he always wondered where the “Zimbabweans were at.” His research had shown that Zimbabweans are the 10th most common nationality and 2nd most common African nationality after Nigerians in the National Health Service and so there was a need for some sort of organisation. “There were
some organisations for Zimbabweans but nothing that was really visible and that were doing what I would have hoped or expected.”
So, being inspired by what he saw and realising there was a gap he founded ZAMPA; he specifically wanted it to be inclusive which is why he called it ‘allied medical professional’ as opposed to ‘medical’ which would imply that it was for doctors only – “I didn’t want segregation.”
“My aim is to bring Zimbabwean healthcare professionals together and the magic will happen as we inspire the next generation. I also want to refute the myth that Zimbabweans don’t work together.” Over the last three months, ZAMPA has gained a steady following on all their platforms and has been able to link student nurse members with mentors. “I’ve even been helped by some of the senior members of the organisation too.”
An only child, Bothwell moved to the UK at the age of eight from Zimbabwe. He’d always loved science and understanding how the human body worked. When he was younger, he witnessed a friend break a leg in an accident. They were initially given the wrong advice by a stranger whilst waiting for an ambulance, but it was when he saw the paramedics, nurs-
es, doctors and radiographers in action looking after his friend that he decided that he needed to know what to do in an emergency situation – “that was the motivation to study medicine.”
He says the medical school experience has been tough, but it has allowed him to grow on multiple levels and he credits his mother for supporting him all the way. “It has been hard being away from family and friends, but I’m nearly done and will be back in England soon.” This dispels one myth about studying medicine. “People think you studied abroad so its
easier, but it’s just as tough and you have to be very dedicated.” A typical day for the Aston Villa supporter is waking up in the morning, spending the day in the hospital, studying, then coming home, so easy it’s not and dedication is a must!
What drives Bothwell? ‘I want to change the world. Africa is my passion and I hate that we are so behind in many things. If we can focus on the basics, we can drastically change quality of life for so many. And I know to do that we will have to work with others so I
hope that ZAMPA can collaborate with groups such SADC and others across the continent.”
His advice for anyone who wants to be the change that they want to see is, “Just start now. I was always planning ahead – kuwerengera is the Shona word and would always say, ‘I’ll do it later, I’ll do it later’. I say start now and don’t wait until later. You don’t need to be older and wiser or qualified… you don’t need to be anything. Just start now. Anyone can make a difference, so why not you and why not now?”
If you want to connect with Bothwell, just catch him on a flight…whenever we can fly freely again!
“One thing people don’t know about me is that I love to talk. If you sit next to me on a plane, I’ll talk to you. You’re with me for three hours and you’re trapped so I will find out about your life and be your friend!” Who amongst us wouldn’t want to be friends with a
gamechanger like this?
“I’m loving my life and am thankful to God for using me. The future is bright”
Find out more about ZAMPA here:
Facebook: Zimbabwean Allied Medical Professional Association – ZAMPA
LinkedIn: ZAMPA – Zimbabwean Allied Medical Professional Association