Best wishes to you for a wonderful 2012! I trust all your dreams and aspirations will become a reality this year! It is amazing that we are already at the end of the first month of the year!
We have so much exciting good news to share! Firstly we ended the year on a high, with an amazing R1 million donation from a faithful couple who have been monthly supporters of our work for the past 10 years! What an incredible gift of generosity, which was supported by the fact that they have requested to remain anonymous!
This donation will be used to provide partial support to 35 new students this year, who will receive the majority of their support through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding, which we have been able to access. This donation was an answer to prayer, as we had one major donor end their 10 year cycle of support. In the middle of December, I was assessing the amount of money still needed for 2012 – it was R 1,350,000, and now is R350 000!!
We had 24 students complete their degrees in 2011, which has increased the graduate numbers from 91 to 115! The breakdown of the new graduates is as follows: 7 Doctors; 2 Pharmacists; 2 Psychologists; 4 Biomedical Technicians; 4 Nurses, 2 Social Workers, a Radiographer, a Dental Assistant and our first Dentist!
Our 2011 pass rate is currently 89 %, although we are still awaiting confirmation of the outcome of supplementary examinations written by 4 of our students, in order to calculate the final percentage. This is an incredible achievement when one considers that all our students come from rural schools and were not adequately prepared for university, and the fact that health sciences are one of the most difficult fields of study. Congratulations goes to all the students who applied themselves and passed, and of course those who completed their degrees – the world is their oyster! We ascribe this high pass rate to our comprehensive mentoring programme, which assists students to deal with their academic and social challenges in order to succeed. A great job done by Dumisani and his team of local mentors who tirelessly give of themselves for the students’ benefit.
A documentary highlighting the lives of two of our graduates, Dr Patrick Ngwenya and Zamani Dlamini, was made by Health E News and featured on Special Assignment on 5 January. The documentary was excellently done, highlighting the challenges rural youth face in achieving their dreams. I know many people did not get to see it for various reasons, but a copy can be viewed or downloaded from the Health E News website. It has been split into 3 sections because of the size. May I encourage you all to take the time to view this incredibly inspiring story of two men who have overcome such odds to become a Doctor and a professional Nurse! Patrick and Zamani's stories are not unique, each one of the students we support has an incredible story of overcoming adversity in order to be where they are now!
In terms of our selection of new students, 10 hospitals have been involved in process of interviewing and selecting their own local students, whom we will provide financial and mentoring support to. We will be supporting 60 new students coming from these hospitals, in addition to a number of out of the area students who face financial exclusion. Our student numbers for 2012 will thus be in the order of 190!
I look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of the programme throughout the year.
Download a copy of our latest Annual Report – it makes great reading!