A paltry $78 was all Dr Grahame Jelley was allowed by the powers that be in cash-strapped Zimbabwe to fly out with when he moved his young family to New Zealand.
Fast forward nearly 20 years, the Kerikeri-based GP has a lot going for him due in large part to the vast experience of working in some of the most isolated communities in New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
"The $78 is all we were allowed to leave with from Zimbabwe in 2000 and we had to start from scratch. Zimbabwe was becoming quite economically unstable. The government was holding on to as much wealth as it could," he recalled.
"The government instituted significant restrictions on the export of money, even on those that wanted to go on holiday. There was a limited amount of foreign currency one could take out. We were able to pay for a container load of furniture."
Born in Harare but growing up mostly in Gweru in central Zimbabwe, Jelley studied medicine in Cape Town, South Africa, and treated the indigenous population in a mission hospital on that country's east coast.
When he felt Zimbabwe became politically stable in 1990, he returned home and worked in a large sugar estate in Chiredzi as one of five GPs delivering inpatient and outpatient services to the more than 35,000 people, as well as in public health services such as bilharzia, malaria control and early HIV interventions.
As the only health professionals in the area, he and other GPs not only performed basic primary health care but also did operations and provided maternity care.
From there, he built up a small solo general practice over nearly a decade near the town of Chipinge on the eastern border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The practice included a small cottage hospital to provide inpatient care, radiography and laboratory services. Jelley spent one night a week at the 60-bed regional hospital in town.
"There is a mixed model of care in Africa. The public health service looks after the large indigenous population, while blue and white collar workers access private insurance services similar to Southern Cross here in New Zealand, paid for either individually or by an employer.
"It's a clear two-sector service. Serving both communities, as a doctor, you see patients from the different ends of the scale and the effects of poverty can be stark."
He moved his family to Westport where Jelley worked in the general practice Buller Medical Centre as well as at the local rural hospital.
After further stints in Whakatane, Opotiki, and Tauranga, his family settled in Kerikeri three and a half years ago after a full time position opened at a GP clinic.
Jelley divides his time between the GP clinic and at the Te Tai Tokerau Primary Health Organisation where he's the clinical advisor.
Jelley has now been awarded Fellowship of the College and the Fellowship in Rural Hospital Medicine.
Ensuring that rural GPs are able to access the training they need to serve their patients is something he's passionate about.
But wherever medical professionals serve in rural New Zealand, Jelley said the challenges were the same.
"There's a lot of impoverishment but in Northland, the older population is growing faster than in any other community in New Zealand. Northland also has a far greater portion of Māori.
"Places like Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Hokianga still have difficulty in hiring and retaining GPs as was the case when I moved here nearly 20 years ago. The Minister of Health has announced the development of rural teaching hubs for doctors."
Jelley said a worrying trend was the plummeting level of interest in people choosing to study in specialist medical fields rather than train in general practice.
Looking back, he reckons he made the right decision to move his family to New Zealand as there has not been a meaningful change in Zimbabwe's political situation.
His daughter Courtney is an optical dispenser in Oamaru and son Brendan is doing performing arts and choreography in Melbourne.
They were 6 and 4 years old respectively when the family moved to New Zealand and Jelley said they found school different to those in Africa.
"They had been used to a very colonial style of education where there was a lot of learning by rote.
"In New Zealand, they were encouraged to think for themselves and be independent, which is a much better way for children to learn."
Jelley said his family were grateful they were able to be supported by a welcoming New Zealand society and have been given the opportunities to flourish and gain economic independence again, "opportunities that we would not have been able to sustain if we had remained in Zimbabwe".
He has been back home only once— in 2014— and although the country is "radically different", there has not been any meaningful change in people's lives.
"Inflation is back up to 100 per cent, 60 to 80 vehicles queue up for fuel, and basic infrastructure has deteriorated since we left in 2000," he said.
A new broom swept through the corridors of power in Zimbabwe less than two years ago, promising change for the better but Northland-based Zimbabweans are far from being convinced.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as President in November 2017 and vowed to serve all citizens, revitalise the struggling economy where unemployment was running at 95 per cent, inflation at an all-time high, and reduce corruption.
But Northlanders who emigrated from Zimbabwe say the situation has not only deteriorated, Mnangagwa was worse than Mugabe.
Paulette Scrooby of Whangārei has always been sceptical about Mnangagwa's ability to turn things around.
With a vast majority of the population unemployed, she said the biggest challenge was to pay for basic necessities like milk and bread.
"Even landlords have started charging rent in US dollars. People are increasingly asking others for help and if it isn't for volunteers helping in their communities, people would be in greater difficulty."
Scrooby said Mnangagwa was "incredibly" out of touch with the grassroots and that the shambolic state the opposition MPs were in only exacerbated the state of Zimbabwe's economy.
Perhaps a new crop of young leaders could inspire confidence by tackling the bread and butter issues plaguing the African nation, she said.
Whitney Manjala is another Whangārei-based Zimbabwean who believes Mnangagwa gave people a false sense of hope.
"The cost of living has gone up further, there are more job losses and people on the ground are saying it's worse than Mugabe's tenure in office. There's no clear direction where the country is heading," she said.
Manjala said she has always been sceptical about Mnangagwa's ability to bring positive changes as he'd been part of the "old guard" since the 1980s, referring to Robert Mugabe's rule.