One of the 13 students being helped by the Trust in 2019 has given the Trustees a powerful account of how the challenge of living with his own health problems led him to study medicine.
Tshepo Khene, 25, says he chose to pursue a MBChB degree “mostly because of personal reasons as I was born with some chronic illness”. He declares: “I was curious and wanted to understand more about the illness so that, in turn, I could … assist those people like myself with this illness.”
Tshepo tells of growing up in a remote rural area and having to travel a long distance to see a doctor. “At times I would be in excruciating pain and would be forced to stay in our local hospital for the whole night, whilst waiting for a doctor to come to see me – and many other patients before me – in the morning.”
He says he wants to be able to make a difference in his community and inspire young people to follow his example, “to dream big and that … everything is possible”. Tshepo adds: “Sometimes you need to be your own role model.” He would like to study further after graduating and hopes to specialise in neurosurgery or oncology.
Tshepo’s story finds echoes in some of the accounts given by other students of medicine being helped by the Trust.
Andile Makhowana, 24, also speaks of coming from a poverty-stricken rural area where people have difficulty accessing health care.
He says: “I love medicine. Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to become a doctor. I grew up in an area where getting to a health facility is a problem because it is very far. I’ve seen people suffer because of that.”
Andile says he wants to provide “a helping hand” to his community. He wants to specialise in family medicine and rural health and dreams of opening a community health centre.
Mnqobi Ntuthuko Ndwandwe, 22, says: “I chose medicine because where I grew up in Nongoma there were no doctors … People in my community, even my family members, paid a lot of money for doctors in town because in our clinics there are no doctors.”
It became “a dream for me to make a difference in my community”, he says, adding he wants to be a role model to show a career in medicine is possible “even if you come from a poor background like me”.