From a petrol attendant to a medical student in Cuba, Ntando Makhubela will finally live his dream of becoming a doctor.
Makhubela, 19, matriculated from Cyril Clarke Secondary School in 2014 with distinctions in maths, biology and physics but could not afford to go to university.
“I did apply to Wits but they didn’t take me for the course [medicine] that I wanted and I had a bursary as well… [they] told me they were full and couldn’t take more students,” he told News24.
“I was studying a Bachelor of Science for two weeks and then I decided to come back home because I had to pay for myself and I didn’t have money.”
Makhubela returned home to Mbombela [Nelspruit] where he lived with his mother and younger sister.
In May this year he started working as a petrol attendant. “I was tired of having to ask for money, I had to take care of myself.”
Makhubela was then approached by the ANC Youth League chairperson in his area. “He was aware that I did well in school and he gave me the application form and I applied.”
He received a scholarship from the Mpumalanga health department, and will be part of a group of 56 students from the province travelling to Cuba on Monday to study medicine.
The South Africa-Cuba Medical Programme was introduced in 1998.
The group leaving on Monday will be starting their studies a little late as the academic year started in September.
But Makhubela said he will only really starting studying medicine in 2017, as the first year is spent learning Spanish.
“They teach in Spanish, everything is in Spanish. So the first year we have to learn Spanish.”
The young Mpumalanga man is excited to get started, even though he will not be home for Christmas.
“I feel bad about it, but this is a big opportunity and I’m not taking any chances with this one.”
Asked what he wanted to do when I completed his studies, Makhubela said he wanted to return home and contribute to his community in Mpumalanga.
“I want to come back and be someone in my community… I want to come back and help the communities here,” he said.