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DOCTORS and engineers who were trained in Cuba have elected to do their bit on Youth Day by volunteering at Chiawelo Clinic. They urge others to come lend a hand too.
THE foundation of the liberty to receive education in one’s preferred language was laid in blood and tears by the youth of 1976.


MMC Nonceba MolweleMMC Nonceba MolweleConsidered a nuisance by the apartheid government, on June 16 that year, young people from Soweto took to the streets to launch their grievances about being taught in Afrikaans, and for getting the inferior Bantu education.

On that day many lost their lives, but the fruits of their martyrdom are a country where one’s home language is respected. Another group of people who directly or indirectly benefited from their sacrifices is some 100 South African medical and engineering graduates who studied in Cuba, a socialist state in the Caribbean. The group goes by the name Ex-Cuban Graduates Association.

The graduates want to honour the class of 1976 by giving back to the community. They will volunteer their free time at Chiawelo Clinic, in Soweto on Thursday, 16 June. Together with the City’s health department, they will offer free checkups and diagnosis at the clinic from early in the morning until 4pm.

The City’s member of the mayoral committee for health, Nonceba Molwele, explained that the Chiawelo Clinic was chosen because it was not only a clinic but also a training centre for nurses. “We believe that by doing this project there, we will benefit our own health professionals who are training at the centre.”

Though the doctors will be based at the clinic for the day, some will undertake home visits to check on patients who could not get to the clinic.

“In Cuba we have a notion that a patient is a bio-psychosocial being, meaning we have to come to see the patient as a social person and not just a human,” explained one of the group, Dr Lincoln Siquishe. “We have to know what kind of state they are living in, whether they have food in the house and what kind of relationship they have.”

The campaign is not only focused on medical and health services, butanyone who has a skill and feels the need to plough back into the community can make their way to the clinic.

Moeketsi Sekhokoane, a qualified engineer, said he would be helping even though he knew nothing about medicine and health care. “I got my qualification as an engineer in Cuba and will be using my skills on that day to give back to the community by doing repair work and cleaning at the clinic.”

Molwele encouraged the youth to make their way to the clinic because the campaign also aimed to promote the concept of volunteerism among the professionals in Joburg.

June 16 is marked as Youth Day in South Africa because it was on this day in 1976 that black students in Soweto protested against the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in local schools. On that day, an estimated20 000 students took part in the protests; about 176 of them were killed.

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