Regional Chief Operating Officer, The Aurum Institute
Course at Wits Business School
Master of Business Administration, 2014
A defining moment in my career
It’s not easy to pinpoint one defining moment. There have been a number that has shaped the person and professional I am today. One person (and series of events) that stands out was a young patient of mine during my internship year as a junior doctor.
Sipho (not his real name) was a nine-year-old with a genetic lung-related disease. He had endured a hard life, limited by having to use permanent oxygen, yet still not able to extract enough to thrive. He did not grow like other kids, he could not play for long periods like other kids, and he suffered every day just to make it to the next. Sipho’s family was poor with few resources and he had received only the basic care possible from a severely constrained government health service.
Despite all this, Sipho’s nine-year-old heart and attitude were positive at all times. No matter how bad he felt, no matter how big his struggle, Sipho greeted everyone with infectious enthusiasm, a mischievous grin and an ever-present sense of gratitude. The nursing sisters loved him, the other sick children drew strength from him and I grew very fond of him during the period he was in my care.
Sipho sadly succumbed to his illness and did not survive to see his 10th birthday. His memory, however, has stayed with me forever. It reminds me daily how important equal, accessible and high-quality healthcare is, especially to the most vulnerable. Accessing healthcare should be a basic human right instead of the privilege we often sadly find it has become.
I have spent my career trying to be a part of a solution that addresses healthcare inequality. Sipho also taught me the value of a positive attitude and appreciation. No matter the challenges, no matter the circumstances, a positive outlook and a sense of gratitude go a long way in helping one find true happiness.