After battling to graduate for two years due to unpaid university fees, clinical associate Retshidisitswe Kotane, finally found her happy ending when she was deployed to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) which is at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19.
Kotane was finally able to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) at the beginning of February, after a crowdfunding initiative on the Feenix crowdfunding platform raised R92 000 so that she could settle her outstanding fees.
The clinical associate is now employed at Netcare Linksfield hospital, and works at the NICD as part of the virology team of professionals testing for Covid-19.
Kotane told News24 she still couldn't believe how everything worked out after waiting for many years to realise her dream of working in the healthcare industry.
"It feels unreal. I feel like someone is going to wake me up," she said.
She added that she had been volunteering her skills for nearly two years because she was "passionate" about her work.
"I was happy to volunteer just to put my skill and knowledge to practice."
"It feels unreal, especially to be part of this team. It's the NICD for crying out loud. I didn't see myself here. I thought I'd always be at a local clinic or private GP, but I'm here...I still don't believe it," the clinical associate said.
Kotane said she had to raise the funds to pay off her university fees so she could register with the HPCSA. Mere days after registering, she received a call about an offer - a locum contract at a private clinic.
"I don't know how I got that call, but I just got a call that said there is a locum contract. If I was interested, could I start immediately," she said.
Three days into the locum contract, she received another phone call, with even better news - an opportunity to work at the NICD.
Kotane said that although being at the front line of the pandemic has meant that she was unable to see her family, she was happy to be able to learn from the NICD and being part of a historical moment for humankind.
"I'm excited to be learning so much, to be a part of something this big. I mean, it has shut the whole world. I love it, I'm enjoying it. I think I'm the only one who is always happy to come here," she said.