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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

Quadriplegic doctor obtains degree against all odds
2016-11-25

Description: Dr Swartbooi CUADS Tags: Dr Swartbooi CUADS

Dr Swartbooi faces each day with vigour and
resilience. Dr Swartbooi analyses images on
a screen in the Clinical Imaging Laboratory
at Universitas Academic Hospital.

Photo: Oteng Mpete

Life’s defining moments are when perseverance is rewarded. It is not easy to swim against the tide. However, for Dr Ambrotius Swartbooi from the University of the Free State’s Department of Clinical Imaging Sciences, it became his moment of glory. In 2006, Dr Swartbooi suffered a spinal injury from a near-fatal car accident which left him paralysed and a quadriplegic.

The strength to carry on

“You have one of two choices:
to lie down and give up,
or to pick yourself up”
—Dr Swartbooi

Dr Swartbooi spent close to six months, recovering from his injuries. “You have one of two choices: to lie down and give up or to pick yourself up,” said Dr Swartbooi. He would inspire other patients with similar injuries to reintegrate into society despite their new-found circumstances.

Fortunately, not all was doom and gloom; in 2007 Dr Swartbooi got married, and his wife has supported and inspired him to continue pursuing his dreams. Dr Swartbooi completed his undergraduate medical degree at the UFS, and in 2014 decided it was time to complete his studies and pursued an MMed specialising in Diagnostic Radiology.

To treat or not treat: that is the question

After all his trials and tribulations, Dr Swartbooi will be receiving his MMed Diagnostic Radiology degree at the UFS Summer Graduation ceremony in December 2016. His research focuses on intracranial aneurysm size interventions. He discovered that there were discrepancies between international standards for intervention and African standards for intervention.

The research inspects what should be treated and how it should be treated. He found there was a gap in African literature into the size of aneurysms.

Champion of survival: Where to from here?

“That’s a good question,” said Dr Swartbooi. “Slowly from here. I still need to work on getting my full accreditation from the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).” He plans to continue fuelling his passion for teaching. “There is no place better to teach than at an academic hospital.”

Dr Swartbooi commended the efforts of the Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), which assisted him in writing all his exams. “I want to be able to make a fulfilling and lasting impact on people but also to give the best medical service that I can,” concluded Dr Swartbooi.

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