LottoStar loves helping others, and charity is a big part of what we do, which is why we collaborated with 947 to make #LottostarBursary a reality this Big September. On Friday, 15 September, our first deserving winner was selected. Here is her story.
The First Big September Bursary winner
Giving the good news
23-year-old Nonkululeko is doing her 3rd year in Medicine at the University of Witwatersrand even though the odds were stacked against her since the beginning. Nonkululeko lost both her parents when she was very young and was raised in a child-headed family in KwaSwayimane, a small village outside of Pietermaritzburg. Her two older brothers took it upon themselves to raise her and her younger sister. Sadly, her second brother died this year in a hijacking in Durban, which has left only one brother to care for them.
Though her dream was to become a Doctor, Nonkululeko was not accepted into med school when she matriculated in 2010, so studied pharmacy, which she completed in 2014. She then worked for two years trying to save up to do the medical degree but it was difficult as she had to contribute at home.
Nonkululeko’s break came in 2016, when she applied to the University of Witwatersrand for a program called Graduate Entry Medical program (GEMP), which admits graduates to 3rd year of the medical course, giving them a chance to fulfill their dreams of becoming doctors. She was one of the students admitted for 2017. Her brothers had tried on numerous occasions to get study loans and financial aid, but failed each time. Being a graduate lowered her chances of getting the funding needed to complete her degree.
It has been a difficult road for Nonkululeko, who does part-time work to try and pay off as much as she can while still maintaining her basic needs, which isn’t easy. “Sometimes I have to bunk lectures just to make a bit of income, and that has been tiring and distressing as a student,” she admits.
At the time of writing, Nonkululeko owed the University R95 000 and had even registered in a few crowdfunding websites and posted her story on social media hoping she would get assistance, her biggest fear being that she may not finish the remaining years of her studies. Yet she was still hopeful: “In the midst of everything, I still believe miracles do happen, I’m just waiting for my turn.”
Her turn came on Friday 15 September when she was called in for an “interview” at the 947 studio in Joburg. But it wasn’t an interview at all – she was already chosen as the winner and was about to be told face-to-face. See video courtesy of 947 below:
After getting the good news, Nonkululeko was in tears, causing the rest of the studio to become teary-eyed as well. LottoStar CEO, Tasoulla Hadjigeorgiou, was clearly emotional and struggled to speak past the lump in her throat. “We at LottoStar want to be a part of your dream and your road and, thanks to 947, we are able to actually reach people like you and do something like this for people. We thank all of our customers as well as the whole of South Africa to make this possible because they are also to thank, and we only wish you the best.”
Nonkululeko was so overcome by emotion that she cried for a while before being able to say “Thank you so much, I’m really humbled, I’ve been rejected so many times I didn’t have hope, even now, but I’m just humbled thank you so much.”
Medicine is her calling in life and it has been her desire all her life to become a doctor. To her, medicine is “an art of possibilities, a chance of changing lives and a risk of achieving the impossible. Our communities have lost hope in the field of healthcare, especially public health care. With the rise of incurable diseases that affects mostly the poor, the country needs passionate and dedicated doctors to restore hope in humankind.”
Win a R250,000 bursary
If you think you – or someone you know – is deserving of an opportunity such as Nonkululeko’s, enter the LottoStar 947 Big September Bursary competition, where LottoStar is giving away 4 bursaries to the value of R250,000. All you have to do is go to the LottoStar bursary competition on the 947 competition page and fill in the form explaining why you, or someone you know, deserves a bursary, and how you (or they) would go about paying it forward if you won. This could be the break you were looking for.
Update on progress: 14 August 2018
LottoStar received the following update from Nonkululeko Dlamini:
Nonkululeko is currently on her 4th year in Medicine at the University of Witwatersrand, and says that she is doing great thus far. She went on to explain: "In the medical course we do 6 weeks blocks and write an exam after every block. Each block tests competency in certain systems eg: Reproductive System or Gastrointestinal System. I've successfully completed 4 of them and going onto the last block (5th block)."
She added that: "LottoStar has been a great help in my life. It's such a relief to know that I'm now owing the university and that has had a great impacted even on my academic achievements. I'll forever be greatful."
We are proud of you Nonkululeko, well done!