Trust’s help goes to more students in 2020 amid virus crisis

The Trust is giving support to 18 needy students in 2020, up from 13 last year, amid a surge in hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The increase in the numbers being helped at this critical time comes thanks to the wonderful generosity of the Trust’s donors and supporters.

The assistance is going to six honours students in the form of Trust bursaries and the Margaret Thomas Scholarship and to 12 undergraduates in the form of top-up assistance for meals and textbooks.

The selections include many students of medicine, which would appear to be appropriate at this time, but others are studying courses in a range of disciplines such as engineering, science, social science and the arts.

You can make a vital difference in the current extremely difficult circumstances by giving as generously as you can to the Trust.

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Vice-Chancellor’s appeal in response to coronavirus pandemic

Many alumni in the UK and elsewhere will have received an email from UKZN’s Alumni Relations team containing an appeal from Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Nana Poku for help in response to the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the university, students and staff.

Prof Poku urged alumni to assist in any way they could, saying: “Contributions both large and small — financial, physical and in kind (including professional services) — are all sorely needed.”

He declared: “I appeal to your fellow feeling, generosity of spirit and appreciation of the difference a university education can bring to individual and community life. Please help us to ensure that the current generation of students — and the University of KwaZulu-Natal — can continue our work.”

Prof Poku’s full statement can be found here.

:: Supporters of the Trust and its efforts to help to needy students at the university will be aware that if they are UK taxpayers they can boost any donations to the Trust by using gift aid. We urge alumni in the UK to consider this option.

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Trust student’s illness inspired him to study to become a doctor

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”.

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Trust News Winter 2019-20

The Winter 2019-20 issue of the UKZN UK Trust’s newsletter, Trust News, was posted out to alumni and supporters in the UK recently.

Please contact us if you did not receive the newsletter. We would also be grateful if you would let us have your e-mail address if you have not previously done so, copying in the Alumni Affairs team at Alumni@ukzn.ac.za

View Trust News Winter 2019-20 (PDF 815KB).

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Donors: please tell us who you are!

An unfortunate consequence of new data protection laws is that Virgin Money Giving no longer provides the Trust with details of supporters who have made donations using their system. The records of donations made are anonymised.

This means that the reports accessed by the Trust now show the amount given and the date of the donation but not who made it. The Trustees would be grateful if donors would let the Trust know when they have made a donation, if they are happy for the Trust to have this information.

The best way to do this when making a donation via Virgin Money Giving is to use the optional message field, although there is also an optional name/nickname field. At right is a screenshot of the form.

The records provided to the Trust do include any messages left.

Alternatively, you may wish to email the Trust at info@ukznuktrust.org to let us know of your donation.

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Trust provides help for 13 needy students

The Trust is giving support to 13 needy students in 2019, up from 12 last year, thanks to the generosity of donors and supporters.

The help is going to five honours students in the form of Trust bursaries and the Margaret Thomas Scholarship and to eight undergraduates in the form of top-up assistance for meals and textbooks. The grants are in line with policy changes made last year following new state aid covering tuition fees for many needy undergraduates.

The Trust’s support is going to students from a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, engineering, science, social science and the arts.

All the students are from families with gross household incomes below R122,000 (below about £7,200) per annum.

The need remains very great, evidenced by the many stories of the challenges faced by poor students trying to pursue their studies. You can make a vital difference by giving as generously as you can to the Trust.

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Trust News Summer 2019

The Summer 2019 issue of the UKZN UK Trust’s newsletter, Trust News, was posted out to alumni and supporters in the UK recently.

Please contact us if you did not receive the newsletter. We would also be grateful if you would let us have your e-mail address if you have not previously done so, copying in the Alumni Affairs team at Alumni@ukzn.ac.za

View Trust News Summer 2019 (PDF  555KB).

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Students tell of hopes and aspirations

The 12 young people being helped by the Trust in 2018 have provided moving accounts of their circumstances in pursuing their university studies. The debt they owe to Trust donors and supporters is clear.

Here is just a sample of the messages received:

Sanelisiwe Mahapeletsa, 32, was inspired to study medicine (MBCHB) after the death of her father from high blood pressure which resulted in cardiac failure.

She says: “It came to me that I can make a difference and save lives … (by becoming) a medical professional who will advocate for promotion of health in disadvantaged communities.” She is interested in neurosurgery and drug research, saying: “I believe if medicine can find more curative drugs, life can be better for all.”

Thando Masiko, the recipient of the Margaret Thomas Scholarship, is studying a BA (Honours) degree in Media and Cultural Studies. He says passion drove him to his course of study.

He believes working in the media industry could allow him to have significant influence “to change the world for the better”.

Thando sees himself as a storyteller. He hopes that by sharing his stories he will be able to influence and shape the future “with relevant and constructive content”.

He has ambitions to run his own media company, using TV broadcasting and online platforms.

Amanda Nyawose, 20, is studying for a BSc degree in Environmental Earth Science. She has been drawn to the combination of courses in hydrology, environmental science, soil science and agro-meteorology.

She voices concern about pressures on the environment and the speed of environmental change. She says many people are not aware of the stress they are placing on the environment. Amanda hopes to help find water-saving solutions, given the problems of poor water quality and water scarcity, and a rapidly growing population.

Samokelisiwe Dube, 20, who is pursuing a BSc in Geological Sciences (20), says geology has been a passion since childhood: “I always marvelled at the gigantic hills of Mother Nature … I am motivated by curiosity and a deep desire to understand some of the grandest and most beautiful phenomena on earth …”

She says that after graduating she wants to “give back to the community, country and my geologically blessed homeland”. She adds: “My ultimate goal is to be a responsible citizen and serve the beautiful land that nurtured me, with integrity.”

Mfanelo Mkhize, 19, is studying a BSc in Mechanical Engineering. He says he has been fascinated by machines since early in his life and loves engineering.

He wants to use mechanical engineering to help improve people’s lives. He declares: “From the villages … I knew as a child, I know the challenges faced by the poor.”

He has ambitions to progress steadily in a career in engineering, perhaps even setting up his own consulting company one day, creating jobs for other engineers.

Duane Naidoo, 23, says his enthusiasm for his studies for a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science stems from “being able to create something viable and contribute to the community with only the tool of a PC”. He enjoys the problem-solving aspects of practical programming.

He is keen to advance his skills and knowledge to pursue a career in IT, perhaps running his own company one day.

Sinothile Makhatini, 22, is looking to use the skills and knowledge acquired from a BSc (Hons) in Geography and Environmental Management to help address social, environmental and economic issues. She is enthusiastic about the practical fieldwork, research and analysis used to arrive at solutions for a particular problem.

Sinothile hopes to work in the management of natural resources or conservation. “It will be my duty to ensure the monitoring and sustainable use of (scarce) resources by enforcing compliance with resource usage regulations and laws,” she says.

Simphiwe Ndlovu, 21, studying medicine (MBCHB), says: “Since I was a child, I wanted to be a medical doctor. I love to help people and that is what I would be doing as a doctor.”

He adds that he was attracted by the fact “doctors are respected for being kind and offering their services to help people in (their) communities get better when they are sick”. He is keen to specialise in cardiology and help save people with heart problems.

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Trust News Winter 2018-19

The Winter 2018-19 issue of the UKZN UK Trust’s newsletter, Trust News, was posted out to alumni and supporters in the UK recently.

Please contact us if you did not receive the newsletter. We would also be grateful if you would let us have your e-mail address if you have not already done so, copying in the Alumni Affairs team at Alumni@ukzn.ac.za

View Trust News Winter 2018-19 (PDF).

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Trust gives help to 12 needy students

The Trust is providing assistance for 12 needy students in 2018, geared to new circumstances following an expansion of state aid for students.

In the past, the Trust’s bursaries met some or all of the cost of tuition fees for needy undergraduates. But now the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is covering fees for many such students. After consultation with the University, the Trustees opted to provide some bursaries for needy students studying for honours degrees and to use the rest of the available funding to provide needy undergraduates with top-up grants for the purchase of textbooks and meals.

This decision means that in 2018 the Margaret Thomas Scholarship has been awarded to a BA (Honours) student, Thando Masiko, while Trust bursaries have been given to four other honours students in the fields of computer science, environmental science and microbiology.

Textbook and meal grants are being provided for seven undergraduate students across a range of disciplines including medicine and engineering. All the students receiving help are from families with gross household incomes below R122,000 (below about £7,200) per annum.

While the new state aid has made a difference, the level of hardship experienced by many poorer students remains a significant problem.

The University has assured the Trustees of the continuing need for the Trust’s support – particularly for a group defined as the “missing middle”, those students who do not qualify for NSFAS funding but are unable to afford higher education owing such factors as large family size relative to household income or coming from a single-parent family.

The University says there are thousands of students from poor households in need of top-up funding for textbooks, meals and accommodation. But the Trust is only able to provide such help for just seven students this year.

To enable the Trust’s valuable work to continue, the Trustees urge alumni and supporters in the UK once again to give as generously as you can. Even the smallest contribution can make a difference.

Please consider a one-off donation or a regular standing order, using the giving form enclosed with this newsletter. Remember gift aid can boost your donation if you are a UK taxpayer.

You may also wish to consider other ways of giving, such as through a legacy. See the Donate page on the Trust’s website at www.ukznuktrust.org for further information.

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