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 Alumni stories

Dr Gabriel Nel (University of Pretoria)

The Abe Bailey tour was gifted to me at a most appropriate time in my journey as a young white male working in public health care in South Africa. Being at the end of a six year academic career, I was eager, motivated and independent. I had a great deal of self-confidence at this stage, as well as experience unique in comparison to the rest of the group as a result of working in public health at the coal-face level. I was a student during much student turmoil at our beautiful universities and discussions were full of strife, anger, passion, tension and hope. Such background allows one to appreciate the position I found myself in at that time of my life; a confident and qualified individual who was however unsure of his place in his own country in certain circumstances but very sure of his role in polar situations. I had hoped that I would be able to achieve a number of things during the tour: 1. To test the credibility of a tour such as this; was it all it made out to be? 2. To gain insight into our country's issues and discover solutions through the eyes of very different people. 3. To establish a sustainable network base, and lastly 4. To further myself as an individual in all aspects and to put my own credibility to the test.

The Abe Bailey Tour indeed granted me the most valuable opportunities to achieve all of my objectives. It provided the platform for uncomfortable debate and challenging environments, allowed my open-minded approach to soak in vast and generous amounts of experience and knowledge. It tested my own person dynamically and in ways yet untested and put itself through severe criticism as a bursary - only to be realised as indeed one of the most prestigious and unmatched bursaries in the country. I was able to apply myself, challenge myself and grow in such a way that I would describe the man who left and the man who returned as two different people with the same heart for humanity and the same soul for Africa but now only more inflamed and equipped. I believe the tour reached all of its own objectives while at the same time allowing me to reach my own.

The Abe Bailey Travel Bursary is by far the most prestigious and catalytic bursary available in our country. It has strengthened its reputation and has blessed itself with a new group of most progressive and influential young South Africans. It needs to continue to ask hard questions of its quality and purpose to remain relevant and of the most high standard, and needs to continue choosing only the best servant leaders and dynamic individuals this country has to offer. It is now as much my responsibility as the Trust's and selection panel's to ensure the bursary upholds its unique position within our South African context.

Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital in Gauteng has been where I have spent most of my day-to-day life in recent months. The patient load has increased exponentially. We are currently serving nearly 6% of the country's population! (2 million recorded during 2011 census together with an estimated 1 million foreign nationals) with only 850 beds and about 100 junior doctors (of course senior doctors available, thankfully). It has been an incredible experience, but also very much a time of severe pressure, and thank God, growth. Abe Bailey has provided a great deal of the skills I use daily to carry out my profession. I am truly happy dedicating these years entirely to my profession. We have a huge opportunity helping the people we do, they suffer greatly and often have little hope when they arrive at our doors. Truly a blessing to be here.

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Posted: 2016/12/01 (12:00:00)

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