In January a young South African was on the verge of giving up on her dream of becoming a medical professional, but today she is part of the fight against Covid-19 – thanks to the kindness of other South Africans.
Meet Retshidisitswe Kotane, a medical graduate who recently registered with the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA), is now proudly serving her country at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus.
Unable to receive her qualification certificate due to unpaid university fees, Kotane’s outlook earlier in 2020 was bleak.
She knew from a young age that she wanted to positively impact people’s lives and make a difference in communities. She felt that her dreams were well within her grasp when she completed her Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice studies, a new mid-level healthcare provider qualification, at the Wits Medical School.
[ON AIR] Retshidisitswe Kotane, a medical graduate who recently registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), is proud to be serving her country at the forefront of the fight against #Covid19inSA. Retshidisitswe talks to #KayaBreakfast team about this pic.twitter.com/YMMZh6Kg2u— Kaya FM Talk (@KayaFMTalk) April 15, 2020
However, her name was removed from the graduation list because she had about R95,000 in outstanding fees that she was unable to pay. Without her graduation certificate, Kotane could not register with the HPCSA and was therefore not allowed to work in the medical field.
Then Kotane heard about the Feenix crowdfunding platform, through which she was able to connect with individuals in her community to partly reach her fundraising goal, with the bulk of the balance paid by the Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation. Tutuwa is one of the institutions that has joined the Feenix community to ensure students are given a chance to graduate and pursue the next step in their future.
“The foundation aims to inspire and support the growth and development of young people so they can reach their full potential and be productive citizens,” says Tutuwa Foundation CEO Zanele Twala.
Kotane couldn’t believe her dreams were finally becoming a reality.
“After I received the email telling me my debt would be covered, I was in complete disbelief. I only realised it was true when I checked my fee statement a week later and found that the outstanding fees had indeed been settled.”
She immediately made her way to the HPCSA offices in Pretoria and registered as a health professional. Today she holds a position as part of the response team to the Covid-19 pandemic at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).
For some professions, the certificate is required proof of qualification and without it, graduates cannot be employed. This creates a vicious circle of unemployment, as the student cannot get a job until they can prove their qualification, but they cannot pay their outstanding fees until they have secured a job
“All of this happened within less than a month of having my debt cleared and registering with the HPCSA,” says Kotane.
Kotane is proud to be serving her country as it faces an unprecedented medical crisis.
“I am doing what I am passionate about and learning so much at the same time.”
Petersen says: “It is cases like Retshidisitswe’s that affirm the work we do at Feenix, connecting funders with university students. Not only to the employability of students, but also to the lives of countless South Africans who could be receiving the support of caring, engaged and motivated medical workers like her. ”
Congratulations to Dr Retshidisitswe Kotane for completing her medical qualification. I also commend all those who contributed towards the payment of her R95 000 debt. Sometimes I wonder why the Health Department does not offer scholarships to such deserving students.— Samson Baloyi (@SamsonBaloyi16) April 13, 2020