pixel In his own words: Hamza Mamuda | Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

In his own words: Hamza Mamuda

Hamza Mamuda is from Nigeria and was studying medicine at the University of Dnipro when the war started

"Hello, my name is Hamza Isa Mamuda, and I am a Nigerian medical student who was in his second year of medical school at Dnipro State Medical University in Ukraine.  

I went to Ukraine on 22 February 2020 and started my medical studies on 1 October 2020. Initially, it was difficult but everything got better over time. I made amazing friends, many now also living in other European countries - and two of them are currently studying with me at NOVA Medical School.  

During the second year, around the first semester exam period, some news started circulating about Russia's intention to declare war on Ukraine - but the university maintained that it was pure speculation, that it was always said that Russia wanted to invade its neighbouring country, and nothing was going to happen. Only this time, it did.  

As there were many students from all over the world studying in Ukraine, faced with that scenario, embassies started telling their citizens to leave as soon as possible. The University even claimed that we would be expelled if we left Ukraine, so I waited longer to leave.   

Lo and behold, on 24 February 2022, I was still asleep when I was woken up by an explosive and terrifying sound, I didn't know yet that Russia had launched missiles at all the airports in Ukraine. We were scared, of course, all flights were cancelled and we were left with no idea how to get out of there. The university cancelled classes and started broadcasting online, but all I could think about was leaving.  

My dream of becoming a doctor seemed more and more distant - but two days later, I joined a group of friends who boarded a train in Dnipro, Ukraine's fourth largest city in the southeast, to the Hungarian border.   

We arrived at the train station early in the morning on 26 February 2022, where we fought to get on the first train, but were kicked off before the train started its journey to make way for the locals - pure racism. Hours later, we almost struggled to get on, a crowded train with only some room in the aisles. All around, the sadness of the people made the whole scene even worse, as the men were trying to get their families to safety, while they were left behind.  

After 25 hours on the train, we reached the Ukrainian city of Lviv, where we had to change trains to reach the Hungarian border. The difficulties for not being of Ukrainian nationality did not stop, but in Budapest, we finally managed to see some light at the end of the tunnel: I managed to reach Portugal, where I was granted a Temporary Protection Permit, and this amazing opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor.  

Despite the language barrier, I am doing my best and I hope one day to speak Portuguese fluently like any national. Otherwise, I can only say that I am very grateful to the Portuguese government for the protection and to NOVA for the opportunity to continue my studies."