Cape Town - The legacy of anti-apartheid activist Dr Aadil Moerat will live on in the recipients of the Dr Aadil Moerat Medical Bursary Trust, which was launched over the weekend at South Peninsula High School (SPHS).
Initially started as a fund by Moerat’s late parents, it targets financially needy high school learners who want to study medicine. The bursary has thus far helped 22 learners over the years.
This year it was formalised into a trust that could be sustained long after the current administrators were gone.
Moerat, also known as the “people’s doctor”, was a general practitioner and anti-apartheid activist, revered by many for his community health activism. He opened his practice in Gugulethu after graduating from UCT, but was tragically murdered in 1998.
Trust chairperson Dehran Swart said: “What we want is someone who can make a difference and someone who understands that health is not just about being sick. It’s not just about dispensing medicine, it’s about having a political voice, being an activist, and that’s the spirit that we want people to emulate as Aadil was that sort of doctor.
“He didn’t open a surgery in the leafy suburbs, he went to the people, where the people needed him and engaged with not only health care, but also the oppressive political system. He addressed how politics, the environment, political economy and a lack of employment all contribute to ill health, and that’s the type of legacy we are trying to maintain,” Swart said.
SPHS principal Zeid Baker said: “The theme for me was Aadil giving back, and his service to the poorest of the poor. To set up your surgery in Gugulethu, that is so significant to the current generation of students, the spirit of ubuntu was what Aadil did 25 years ago, and that is what we try to teach the children at this school.”
Kirsten Links from SPHS was this year’s recipient of the bursary. She said it would go a long way towards assisting her as she pursued her MBChB degree.
“I struggled a lot with finances over the past few years at high school. Because of Covid-19 it was really tough for us to pay high school fees, and that made me stress so much, thinking about wanting to pursue my tertiary studies at university.
“On top of that, what I wanted to pursue was a degree that is so expensive, so it’s a huge relief. I feel grateful and humble to everyone who has been looking out for me.”
Dr Randall Ortel, one of the previous beneficiaries, said: “What made me happy is that there are people who realise that other people struggle. The thought of developing a bursary fund means that they are caring people.
“In retrospect, one can see that Aadil’s principles of community care and advocating for community are even stronger, and being here I’m more appreciative of the fund.
“Now I’m in an environment where I’m exposed differently, and what I see differently I try to bring back to my community, because that’s how you pay it forward. If you have more people coming from the community who have a footprint, who kids can look up to as role models, the more you’re going to get success in those communities,” said Ortel.
Nohra Moerat, Aadil’s daughter and the trust’s public officer, said: “It was always my father’s dream that it would be a trust. It will be an organisation that lives beyond the people who started it, but it carries its values, so long after we are gone it will continue.