Limpopo is one of the eight provinces that send a limited number of deserving students to Cuba to study medicine with the motive of coming back to serve their disadvantaged communities.
Students are selected based on their academic performance and their economic background, of which only the ones with a poor background are usually the first preference. Last year in the year 2014, the Limpopo province sent 109 students to Cuba, of which each of the students and the student’s parents sealed a contract with the Department of Health of Limpopo declaring that the department will finance all the school fees, residential fees, catering and health costs. In return students will have to devote every hour of their time in Cuba to nothing but studying.
Cuba is one of the tough lands for both the young and the old; their system of authority, climates, the daily meals, medium of communication and language are by far different from that of the ones the poor students grew up under. Besides the harsh conditions, all students continued to study like slaves. The second motive to these students was going home even for those few weeks, for in the contract it was clearly stated that students will be brought home for vacations every two successful academic years.
The contract prohibited pregnancy and other indisciplinary actions, students avoided all that. Students wrote their last exam on the 08th of July and should have had their flights secured by the first 4 working days. The students have been spending their stipend making long and expensive calls to their district coordinators and also to the provincial directors of the programme, whom at first gave them different stories until they told the student representatives to stop calling them.
The other students from other provinces have long gone, only Limpopo remain. As students we tried to present this to some of the provincial delegates who were here just this past June. We mentioned to them how it tarnishes the name of our province and our leadership when they reserve our service for last of the last. Now within a few days they have already forgotten us. We have passed and we deserve our vacations.
Before sending this letter to the media, we sent a thousand SMS to Mr Maja and Mr Boya, who are both directors. We even threatened them about the media but as a result we got no reply, which led us to believe that they do not care. During one call, Mr Maja even denied being himself.
One of the students supposed to have come home is an epileptic receiving medication straight from his hometown hospital, last month the province did not send any package and as a result the student had to write his final exam with nausea, which could have affected his results. This student experienced many seizures since the cut, among which two in three days, three in five days. The embassy and the local people tried to help. But all the province had to say even after hearing the seriousness of the situation was that “we will make sure you get the medication when you land”, which seem like it will be in the coming year or even never.
Other students left a day after the release of the results, others even left before. We sent them a list of names before we even started our last module, and yet they say they never had time to secure flights. To others they said; “There is no space”, but students from other provinces continued to fly off. In front of concerned parents, they say that a group is on the way. Liars! Students from 5th and 3rd year have almost a month at home now. Adding onto the number of those 5th and 3rd year students were ONLY FOUR from among us, the first years and a few of those who were repeating their first year. One of those students should have left in February but due to negligence and incompetence, she left last month; four months of nothing but depression.
We think the people in power should be doing their outmost best since it is a few days to elections. Instead, they seem to be focused on winning the elections and forgetting us, their people. This leaves us to ask one question; if this party is failing to serve us now in their most desperate times, how much more will they mistreat us when they have got the chairs?
How does the government expect us to come and work under it while it treat us this way? We have finished our first two academic years successfully and looking forward to do even better in the coming two more years and after, as long as we can get our chance with our families. We have done our best to abide by the contract and yet we are stuck here, doing nothing but sleep, wake up and worry about when we are going home. If we had lawyers or families which had money to afford some, we would take this government to court for breaching the contract, but they already know that we are poor and from poor communities, and so they take advantage.
Written, approved and signed by all students of Limpopo on Tuesday 26 July 2016.
For more validation and confirmation: +5358463498 Pablo (name changed to avoid evil reactions from the perpetrators).