Speaking for Ourselves

Hearts of Gold

Hearts of Gold

Helen Davey

 Migrant Voice - Hearts of Gold

In the midst of a global pandemic, hidden behind PPE and surgical masks, stands a vibrant and dedicated team of healthcare workers, many of whom are migrants. Those on the frontline have risked - and sometimes sacrificed - their lives, yet the public knows little about them or why they matter. The Migration Museum’s Heart of the Nation exhibition is a good place to start to find out more. 

The online exhibition tells some of their stories. It covers six areas: On the Frontline; Birth of the NHS; Arrival; On the Job; Making a Life in Britain; and Looking to the Future. An animation, photographs, audios, films and graphics help you navigate the exhibition, revealing some of the individual lives of those involved in making the NHS what it is today. Visitors can share their own stories of working as a migrant in the NHS. 

hearts of gold

I was particularly drawn to the stories of arrival. For nurses like Gulzar Waljee, the pressure to succeed so that other migrants from her country, Tanzania, would be given the opportunity to work in the NHS shows both her commitment and her ability to adapt to her circumstances. 

hearts of gold

Similarly, learning of the obstacles that many faced - whether the barrier stopping Dr Veena Rao from continuing the job for which she had trained in her own country, India, or the shortage of funds that stymied Filipino migrant Petronio Demillo’s career in medicine - offers stinging insight into the cruel realities of migrants working for the NHS. 

To see the struggles of these healthcare workers and their contributions and achievements brings home how much this community deserves to be recognised for helping build the health service on which the nation relies. This is particularly relevant as the national conversation on immigration, which was already predominantly negative, has soured further since the Brexit referendum.

Heart of the Nation is insightful and engaging, and I recommend it highly.


To view the exhibition: https://heartofthenation.migrationmuseum.org/

Other current Migration Museum displays include:

The Emigration podcasts

The 100 Images gallery

The Keepsakes Gallery

Photo credits: Two top images: Stills from introductory animation to the Migration Museum's Heart of the Nation exhibition  (illustration and amimation by Tribambuka)

Bottom image: Gulzar Waljee in 1959, from the Migration Museum's Heart of the Nation exhibition (image courtesy Gulzar Waljee)


Get in touch

Migrant Voice
VAI, 200a Pentonville Road,
N1 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

Registered Charity
Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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