Healers Documentary Screened at UKZN
The Umthombo Youth Development Foundation which targets local youth and helps them become educated healthcare professionals so that they may assist in their communities, began with four students and has grown to the current 205 active participants.
Founders of the programme, Dr Andrew Ross and Matron Edla Nismbini, were featured in a 69-minute documentary, Healers, shown at the 34th Durban International Film Festival last year and rescreened recently at UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.
‘This started with an idea. People say that scholarships don’t work and that people don’t honour a commitment and come back to communities,’ said Ross. ‘But we started with four students and now we currently have 205.’
Healers, directed by Thomas Barry, is the inspirational story of a doctor and matron of a rural KwaZulu-Natal hospital who find a “simple” answer to a critical problem affecting most of South Africa today.
The film shows Ross and Nismbini confronted with a precarious shortage of staff, thus creating a scholarship programme, the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation. The programme targets the youth and aids them in becoming educated healthcare professionals to help their communities.
Before the programme’s inception, the rural hospital in KwaZulu-Natal struggled to find staff. ‘We needed staff. It was too much work and we got too busy. With such large populations, healthcare centres can’t cater for the numbers since job opportunities are far and few, which is why the youth were targeted,’ said Ross.
Working in partnership with the Department of Health, school-leavers and university students from communities are encouraged to work hard and to apply for a scholarship so that they can get funding to study. The Foundation provides mentors who assist and support the students in their academic endeavours so they can then return to their communities to work.
‘Doctors, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Radiologists, Occupational Therapists, Dental Therapists and Nurses are always in need in community clinics and hospitals,’ said Ross.
‘Since the programme first began, the scheme has grown with successful graduates working in local hospitals. We wanted hospitals to solve their issues of being understaffed through the Foundation. And with many social issues which the youth of South Africa face, like unemployment, HIV, by supporting them we are able to better and enrich the lives of the youth and their communities.’
- Zakia Jeewa