Mitchell’s Plain trust produces first doctor

Kaashiefah Kistnasamy, from Rondevlei, is the Mitchell’s Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust’s first doctor graduate.

The Mitchell’s Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust has had its first doctor graduate since it started helping students a decade ago.

Kaashiefah Kistnasamy, from Rondevlei, received her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees from Stellenbosch University on Monday December 14.

Although there wasn’t a formal graduation ceremony due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the graduates signed their pledge.

Dr Kistnasamy, 25, who matriculated from Spine Road High School in 2013, started her two-year internship at Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital on January 1.

Two other Spine Road High School matriculants, Dr Zaahid Mohammed and Dr Rushdah Benjamin, also graduated with Dr Kistnasamy.

Dr Kistnasamy said she was grateful for the financial and psycho-social support she had received from the trustees over the past seven years.

“They could have spent their tuition contribution on three other students instead of just helping me become a doctor,” she said.

While at high school, she had wanted to be an accountant but was convinced by then principal Riyaadh Najjaar that medicine would be a better fit for her.

Her paternal grandfather Abubakr, 92, died last year, but before his death, Dr Kistnasamy attended every doctor’s appointment at Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre, in Eastridge.

“He was old and frail, and we would have to wait for hours for assistance.

“I used to think if only I could perhaps lessen the load and become a doctor. Do my part,” she said.

At the time, Dr Kistnasamy said she had had a rather “glamourised perception” of being a doctor.

“I wanted to help the community and perhaps help where there was a shortage,” she said.

Dr Kistnasamy said her father was the sole breadwinner and it was difficult to imagine how the family would afford her studying medicine at about R70 000 a year.

They needed about R20 000 for the admission fee, which the trust covered.

She said the trustees would call her and the trust’s other student beneficiaries regularly for a chat and would have group activities for them to socialise and do things they would not ordinarily do.

“We would debrief different situations encountered at university. It was good to have an external point of view. It gave us time to relax, bond as a group and the trustees would take care of us during our study breaks,” she said.

The trust was launched in 2010 with the contributions of Mitchell’s Plain residents but since then the trustees have also sought help from companies.

Jeremy Michaels, co-chairman of the trust, said they had contributed close to R300 000 towards Dr Kistnasamy’s tuition and living allowances over the past seven years.

“We have helped 179 students and distributed approximately R6.8 million in the last decade,” he said.

The trust provides gap cover and psycho-social support to students from Mitchell’s Plain and Philippi who wish to pursue their tertiary qualifications at a recognised university or college (this excludes private institutions), in the Western Cape.

Mr Michaels said various professionals, including accountants, lawyers, teachers and now a doctor had benefited from the trust and it was all about giving back.

“We would like to see Mitchell’s Plain residents, matriculants, graduates and businesses support the trust to ensure there are professionals looking after the community in the next decade,” he said.

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