Retshidisitswe Kotane, a medical graduate who recently registered with the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is proud to be serving her country at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. In January she was at the verge of being a statistic, having missed three graduation ceremonies and unable to find a job in the field she studied, as a result of her being unable to receive her qualification certificate due to unpaid university fees.
Kotane 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 in South Africa, at the Wits Medical School. 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 Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and was therefore not allowed to work in the medical field.
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 that 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 that they can reach their full potential and be productive citizens. Our contribution to Feenix is to fund young people like Retshidisitswe Kotane to enable her to attain her degree certificate which she has worked so hard for, is an example of our contribution towards building a better South Africa and leaving a legacy. Congratulations Retshidisitswe, and well done for your hard work, resilience, tenacity and staying the course,” says Zanele Twala, CEO of the Tutuwa Foundation.
Kotane couldn’t quite believe that her dreams were 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 and received her registration number. While her long wait for registration was finally over, she believed she would have a further struggle to find employment. But a mere 3 days after registration with the HPCSA she got a call offering her a locum contract at a private clinic.
To her surprise, a week after registering with the HPCSA, a former lecturer called her to advise that there was an opportunity to apply for work at Netcare. Kotane sent her CV through, and within a few days, was offered a position as part of the response team to the Covid-19 pandemic at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).
“All of this happened within less than a month of having my debt cleared and registering with the HPCSA,” says Kotane. “I am so grateful to Feenix and the Tutuwa Foundation. It has been an overwhelming journey and I can still hardly believe it.”
She is also 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.”