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Easy to starts

Long Term Solutions

The approach used by the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation is more than a simple bursary 'hand out'. Rather, it is one of the few long term solutions to the challenge of recruiting and retaining quality health care professionals for South Africa's rural areas. Research has shown that health professionals are more likely to choose to work in a rural hospital if that is they orginate, or if they are exposed to the realities of rural health care delivery whilst doing their university training.

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Working Together

We have numerous significant partnerships including funders, the Department of Health, the community but the most important in terms of implementing the programme is the local hospital. Together with the rural hospital, we identify, train and support rural youth to become qualified health professionals, who in turn commit to work at the local hospital for their contract period.

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Great docs & support

Success So Far

The UYDF has produced 185 graduates and currently supports 205 students studying a wide range of health science disciplines - Medicine, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Nutrition, Biomedical Technology, Social Work, Optometry, Dental Therapy, Dentistry, Environmental Health, Speech Therapy, Social Work, Nursing, Radiology and Psychology.

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4 stories 1

I am Sicelo Mduduzi Mafuleka, born on the 30th November 1983. I was born, bred and buttered in the quiet rural hinterland of Ingwavuma- Northern KwaZulu. I grew up among the humble community of KwaDinabanye; since then life has been a challenge to me and my family. Life has not been easy; striving for success and dreaming high- I always remained positive, knowing I can succeed and be something and somewhere in the world. I am the 3rd born of 8 children and most importantly the first to have managed to study till matric and beyond. I am one of those millions of black South Africans born from poor families. My mother did not have a job and my father stopped working on the mines in Johannesburg due to some illness while I was doing grade 4 (Std 2) in 1994. We have been living on what the gardens and maize-fields offered us in all these years. Life has not been easy for me and my family and I never left home to go stay somewhere just because of that situation. I remember some days when we had to go to bed without getting anything in our stomachs. Throughout that challenging life, I did not lose hope about the betterment of my life. I avoided things such as alcohol and other drugs. I always kept myself busy studying and or sometimes playing my music and listening to motivational speakers. I always wanted to be helpful to my parents. For my parents it was even so difficult to get school fees for us - which could have amounted to R50.00 per annum then. When I was in my higher school grades, I used to find some jobs around the community and work for people during school holidays, and I would save that little money for school fees and stationery. I have been living a life like I was being kept in captivity, somehow being slightly negative about the future and so narrow-minded. It wasn’t until I was in grade 10, in the year 2000, when I started dreaming about different careers and going to university one day. However, I knew that this was not going to be easy or not possible at all because I could not afford to. The only hope I had was to either get a bursary, scholarship or loan. And it even turned more difficult for me due to a poor basic educational background I had since I went to one of the poorest high schools in that region. Being exposed to information pertaining to things like bursaries, tertiary institutions, loans and even different career choices was a dream. I could only hear about those on the radio and sometimes the radio was not even there. Some teachers would try to help us with such information but that was not adequate. When you are a learner in such an environment you only know that after completing matric you have to find a job, even though there is not much one can do with a matric only nowadays. I was so narrow-minded, actually empty-minded, just because of the system in the area and yet I am not too sure if anything has changed there. Fortunately I have a keen interest in mathematics and science. In 2001 when doing grade 11, I was ordered by my science teacher to attend an open day career exhibition at the local Mosvold hospital. It was there where I got exposed to a variety of interesting health care professions and where I got introduced to this scholarship scheme (known as Friends of Mosvold then). After that visit to the hospital I started changing my mind. I saw that as a chance for me to go to university one day and study towards a degree of my interest through obtaining a scholarship. I started being interested in a variety of health disciplines including my current profession Optometry. I completed my matric in 2002 with flying colors especially in mathematics and science, which led me to obtain a merit certificate. I completed matric in the same poor high school. I became strongly interested in Optometry and my only hope of doing that depended upon getting a scholarship/ bursary, otherwise there was no other way. I spent the whole year of 2003 seeking temporary jobs, applying for admission at university for the following year, and spent some time volunteering at the Mosvold eye clinic. Early in 2004 I attended a selection interview for a scholarship which happened by God’s Grace. I was successful and given a scholarship to study optometry at the University of Johannesburg. The challenges never stopped, my father passed away in September 2004 after a short illness when I was busy preparing for my end of year examinations in first year. But throughout those years of challenges, thanks to the overwhelming support and assistance I had been getting from the Scheme, I managed to strive and completed my degree in 2009. I am now a qualified Optometrist and I can say without doubt that the FOM Scholarship Scheme has done a wonderful job by making a difference in my life and that of my family. Currently I am serving the community of Abaqulusi municipality (Northern Zululand region) – based at Vryheid District hospital. Although currently I do not have a secured full time post in the public sector (due to frozen posts), it is a good feeling to realize that finally I have my degree that I worked so hard for. Most importantly the sound reputation and joy coming from my patients in this community is so fulfilling. My family is happy because now I can assist them wherever I can and be able to support my fellow siblings in their educational needs. Lastly, may the Scheme last forever and continue doing the great job of uplifting those aspiring young talents and investing in the future of our disadvantaged youth… by picking and supporting one child from a large family with a disadvantaged background, you have totally supported the entire family because this one has to go back and support the others. In that way you have changed the lives of many. Thank You… God Bless! By Sicelo Mduduzi Mafuleka



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