Tshemba Foundation Centre in Hoodespruit. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg – Youth Month is an annual reminder that every South African citizen is entitled to be educated, and should receive the same standard of education. It’s with a heavy heart that we need to admit, 42 years later, equal education is still out of reach; something that is especially true in rural communities.

“Tshemba Foundation [a medical volunteer programme in Hoedspruit] was started about three years ago, and the concept was to bring medical practitioners to the most under-served areas in South Africa. The shortage of qualified doctors and medical practitioners in these rural areas is bordering on obscene,” says Neil Tabatznik, founder of Tshemba Foundation.

The goal that Tshemba wants to reach can be seen as three pillars: support, educate and inspire.

During a visit to Tshemba, Dr Maria Pestana, a general dentist, her son, a dental student, and nurse Rosy Ribane spent time at nearby crèches screening children between the ages of three and five. They saw about 460 children of which approximately 80% desperately needed restorative dental work and have no hope of getting it done.  

However, while the volunteers' time is appreciated, without teaching the staff left behind or the patients, it’s impossible for the community to move forward. 

Dr Bashir Bulbulia, an anaesthetist, says, “Doctors are responsible to ensure they fulfil their patients’ trust. Without honed skills, you could harm somebody. I believe my biggest contribution at Tshemba would be to train the young doctors to improve their skills and practice safe anaesthesia.”

Visiting Tshemba is a perfect opportunity for medical practitioners to find inspiration. 

Volunteers will also enjoy the beautiful South African bushveld, as they’ll stay at a luxurious, self-catering game lodge. It’s an ideal opportunity to break from daily life and time spent aiding those in need. But more than just being a doctor’s refuge, Tshemba also gives volunteers the chance to fall in love with medicine again, as they can see firsthand the difference they make.

Tshemba Foundation Centre in Hoedspruit. Picture: Supplied

Tshmeba Foundation is not only about servicing less-fortunate people in dire need of medical attention, but also about helping doctors find their love for medicine again and pass their legacies on to the next generation.

If you're interested in pledging your services to the Tshemba Foundation and helping both those in need, you can call +27 (64) 507 5527 or visit www.tshembafoundation.org.