Donor gives Tzaneen village's top achiever chance to become a doctor

2016-01-11 08:49
Desmond Nkhwashu from Matimu High School in Khujwana Village, Limpopo dreams of being a doctor one day. (Supplied)

Desmond Nkhwashu from Matimu High School in Khujwana Village, Limpopo dreams of being a doctor one day. (Supplied)

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Polokwane - An 18-year-old Tzaneen teenager's dream of becoming a doctor one day may come true sooner than he anticipated.

An angel donor Thandeka Mona has offered to fund Desmond Nkhwashu's medical degree at the University of Witwatersrand.

Mona read an article about Nkhwashu obtaining six distinctions and his struggle of getting financial assistance to pursue his degree at Wits and found herself thinking back to her own struggles of trying to make it through university, with hardly any money.

"I read that story and I found it quite remarkable. I know what it's like struggling to study," said Mona, who is a University of Pretoria graduate.

"For me it was hard, you know your parents' [pay cheque] can only take you so far, but I was driven and I wanted to study regardless. So I was working full-time as a waitress and even then, that was not enough and I needed to take a loan to complete my studies," she said.

She said through the help of some "angels" in her life, she managed to complete her studies and get a job. She now works as a product marketing assistant manager at Nissan South Africa.

"That was the biggest thing they could do for me because I completed my studies, now I'm working."

When Mona later came into some money, she decided to put it to good use.

"Because I know what it's like, I want to find the best students who have promise and just give them that opportunity."

Lack of access

She said most of the time brilliant young minds fall to the wayside due to a lack of access to information about further education and bursary opportunities available.

She had a burning passion to help break the cycle of poverty, she said.

"For me it's about doing that one thing that will change the cycle instead of talking about it and not implementing any changes.

"So then I just made it my responsibility to say, 'With what I have, I commit to do this'."

To Mona, it went beyond paying for someone's tuition, but about making sure they had accommodation as well as pocket money for textbooks and other necessities.

Mona was in the process of registering a foundation named after the woman who signed a surety that made it possible for her to complete her studies.

"I called the woman who paid for my surety to say 'I want to call it [the foundation] after your name. And she was just like, 'Thandeka what do you mean?' And I said, I want to call it Ingrid Children's Fund is that okay? Because that's the opportunity you gave me, and I want to give [that to] other younger children who are ambitious'."

Mona's motto is very clear, "Let's get these children educated, let's break the cycle, let's feed those minds."

Dreams of being a doctor

On Friday, News24 published a story about Nkhwashu's dreams of becoming a medical doctor and the harsh reality he faced of living in a village with a single, unemployed mother of two.

He told News24 that the family of four largely relied on his grandmother's pension and that after his mother had lost her job as a domestic worker in June 2015, he had resorted to selling snacks during school breaks and after school to make extra money.

He had conditioned himself to wake up around 04:00 to study before going to school, and in the evening right into the night until about 23:00.

The 18-year-old told News24 the reason he wanted to become a doctor was so he could help the people in his village of Khujwana in Tzaneen.

His mother Emelinah Maakana described her son as a good boy, who had always had a love of books and consistently performed well at school. He was also very helpful at home, she said.

When he came home on Wednesday with the results of his final exams, in a bittersweet moment, she broke down in tears wondering how she was going to make sure her son's dreams come true.

"I was so excited. I was so happy but I did cry because I knew I didn't have the means to send him to school because he loves studying."

Throughout their hardships she said she always knew that her son would ultimately achieve whatever he set his mind to.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  good news

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