16 Year Old 'Dr. Bean' Assists at Mdzananda Animal Clinic
He volunteers after school when he can, every single Saturday and during his school holidays.
He is enormously popular with the full time staff and the volunteer vets, who are happy to allow him to assist during surgery and to help them in the consulting room.
Thobani's one main dream is to be a vet, but poor township education and the fact that his family are desperately poor (his father is unemployed and his mother works as a char twice a week) make it very unlikely that he would a)matriculate sufficiently well to gain access to veterinary university or b)be able to afford university.
About three months ago, the fundraiser for SA Mass Sterilisation Trust (SAMAST)sent a proposal to a television programme entitled "Let's Fix It" asking them to do a show on Dr Bean.
The programme highlights the trying circumstances encountered by
individual people and organisations and then gets donations of money
and goods sponsored to improve their lives. When the show eventually
airs, it usually brings more donations for the individual.
"Let's Fix It" produced a programme on Dr Bean and it was outstandingly
success. There were donations of goods and food, education insurance
policies and even cash. When the show aired it brought even more
One of the people who saw the show was the Rector of
Onderstepoort Veterinary University (OP), Dr Robert Swan, who was so
touched by Thobani's determination to be a vet that he invited him to
visit the university.
Dr Swan has committed OP to providing a bursary to Thobani for his
veterinary studies and even a living allowance, should he matriculate
sufficiently well to allow his entrance to the unversity.
Last Thursday, Dr Darren Taylor, Mdzananda's clinic manager and Thobani
flew up to Johannesburg to spend two days on an orientation programme
at OP. On Saturday they visited CLAW and participated in the Saturday
Sessions - Darren treated some sick dogs and Dr Bean assisted him.
The donations that have come in have also paid for extra mathematics
and English classes for Thobani. It is hoped that he will improve
sufficiently to be able to gain entrance to attend a special science
and mathematics orientated school founded by the Mark Shuttleworth
Dr Bean is currently in Grade Nine and has three more years of school
left, before he will hopefully make it into OP to study to become a
Dr Bean lives with his father, who is unemployed and is slightly
paralysed from a stroke, his mother and his younger sister. They share
a shack in Khayalitsha.
The financial donations that have come in have
been invested, and Jane Levinson of Mdzananda has been appointed
trustee to make sure that the money is properly managed.
*SAMAST also fundraises to sponsor Vetsol, a mobile unit of a vet and
veterinary nurse, to sterilise dogs and cats twice monthly at
Mdzananda. The "Let's Fix It" programme was also able to raise some
money and goods for Mdzananda, including a new container for them.