“I do not think that NSFAS fully realises the powerful impact that it has had on the lives of disadvantaged students who come from poor family backgrounds,”
I grew up in rural Bethlehem – east of the Free State province. One day as a young girl, my aunt’s friend took me along to see a physiotherapist. While they spoke, I was gazing around the practice room and in awe of everything. Right there I fell in love with this profession. My mother was a teacher and did her best to give us a better life. After finishing my high school in Bethlehem, I went to the University of Pretoria in 2011 to study Physiotherapy. There were many of us wanting to do the course, but they took us through acceptance tests and only fifty of us made it, because that is the university’s intake limit for each year for that course. Physiotherapy was my natural career choice since that childhood inspirational experience. My mother paid my tuition fees for my first year but it soon became clear that she was struggling.
It just happened by the grace of God that a friend of mine mentioned something called NSFAS when we were on campus. The information I got was that there was an office on campus where students could apply for funding. I went there immediately and to my shock, the queue was very long. Since I did not have any other option, I joined the queue until I was also assisted with the application. Nothing happened in the first few days and registration deadline was fast approaching. One day I was lying in my room thinking about the whole situation when I received an SMS informing me that NSFAS application had been successful. I jumped out of bed, I was more than excited! I got on the phone to call my mom and tell her – because she too was anxious, it is a moment that changed my life. I was then able to continue with the course for my second year.
NSFAS paid for my second and third years and I received a bursary for the rest of the course because I worked hard to achieve good symbols. After graduating in 2014, I had the choice to work at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital or Mamelodi Hospital. I chose Mamelodi hospital because I have always wanted to serve the community and help less fortunate people. My choice was also informed by the fact that Steve Biko Academic Hospital was well resourced in terms of personnel. They had a lot of physiotherapists. I chose a community based hospital where there was a shortage of physiotherapist so that my presence could make a difference in people’s lives. I educate my patients about the causes of their health problems, and how they can help themselves in the process of healing. It is very sad to find out how little knowledge people have about so many things. On a normal day, I see close to twenty patients and the busiest time is in the mornings where I treat a lot of babies and children. There are only two of us (Physiotherapists) in the hospital. Some of the patients I treat have suffered strokes, fractured bones, arthritis, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, torn muscles, children’s burns, premature new-borns, the list goes on. I am now studying further to venture into paediatric speciality, where I will specialise in children’s health.