Latie Mtana’s childhood was not one of glamour or luxury, but rather one of simple moments and hard work. The joys and challenges of his early years helped him to develop strength and resilience, qualities that would serve him well as he grew into a compassionate and caring nursing professional.
Mtana, from Kuyasa, Khayelitsha in Cape Town, learned that true happiness comes not from material wealth, but from the bonds of family and community.
He never considered nursing as a career. He wanted to be a teacher or a lawyer, and he believed that his confidence and ability to speak in public would make him a good fit for either of those professions.
However, after caring for his grandmother, Vuyelwa Mtana, during her critical illness, he realised that nursing was his true calling.
Making a difference
Mtana credits his decision to become a nurse to a special moment with his grandmother. As he cared for her during his matric year in 2017, she blessed him and told him that what he was doing was more than just a job – it was a gift. At that moment, Mtana knew that nursing was his calling, and he never looked back.
His main focus is on primary care, specifically for patients who are living with HIV or chronic illnesses.
He understands that nursing is still seen as a female-dominated profession, but he believes that it’s changing bit by bit. More and more men are entering the field, and they bring a valuable perspective and skill set to the table.
Mtana says having more male nurses will help to improve the quality of care, especially for male patients. Furthermore, it will make the nursing profession more diverse and inclusive, which is beneficial for everyone involved.
The thing about men
Mtana says he has observed that many men do not regularly visit healthcare spaces, and often suffer in silence. They may not prioritise their health or may feel that visiting a clinic or hospital is not “manly”.
However, this is a harmful and outdated view, he adds. Healthcare spaces are for everyone, regardless of gender, and everyone deserves to be healthy and well, Mtana explains.
“To help men seek healthcare, we need a diverse approach. Make healthcare spaces inclusive and welcoming for men. Create programmes and resources for men’s health. Have open conversations about preventative care.
“Supporting men in taking care of their health can make a big difference. Addressing the stigma around men’s health is important,” he explains.
From strength to caring
Mtana has been working as a nurse at Khayelitsha District Hospital in Cape Town since 2022. He has gained experience and responsibility already, becoming a shift second leader in his assigned ward.
Despite the challenges of growing up without a father figure, his uncle Sipho provided him with invaluable guidance and support.
“My uncle was incredibly supportive, not only providing guidance and advice but also ensuring my safety. Even on cold winter mornings, he would walk me to the bus stop, so that I could get to school safely.”
The hardships of Mtana’s early life have made him the man he is today, and he says grateful.
“My self-confidence is not simply a matter of luck or privilege. It has come from the necessity of standing up for myself in the face of adversity.”
Fighting his own battles
Mtana is a dedicated and passionate nurse, who believes that every patient deserves the best possible care. He’s committed to making a difference in his community, and he sees his work as a calling, not just a job. He’s determined to provide quality care with dignity and respect, and he hopes to inspire others to do the same.
“And also, the church played a vital role in me, in moulding the pieces I never knew existed in me.”
For Mtan, growing up in eKasi was filled with challenges. However, it’s possible to persevere and create a better life by understanding and accepting oneself. Then, it’s possible to help others by breaking down the stigma and barriers that exist in society. Mtana’s experience is a testament to the power of self-acceptance and self-love.
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