National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Rirhandzu Precious Mkhari plans to be the best doctor for her people

Rirhandzu Precious Mkhari matriculated at Ponego Secondary School in Gauteng. She is studying medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She was selected as one of the students for the NSTF’s Brilliants Programme in 2021.  

“I know that I won’t change the world just by becoming a doctor, but I know I will be there in the hardest times, through pandemics and all. I will be there to help those in need.”

Tell us a bit about yourself?


My name is Rirhandzu Precious Mkhari. I was born and raised in Gauteng in a Township called Tsietsi. Growing up, I used to love teaching the little children in my neighbourhood. I did so with so much passion and love that everyone was convinced that I was going to become a teacher. Well, I realised that it is not teaching that I love, but helping people, passing on to them what I know and have learned.

Why I chose engineering?

Growing up in a township comes with its own challenges. Challenges such as poverty, teenage pregnancy and teenage alcoholism, just to name a few. I have very strict and hardworking parents who always ensured that I was toeing the line. One thing for which I will forever be grateful is that I never had to go to bed on an empty stomach, but I saw and heard people who did. I always want to help; I wanted to do something. I knew that I had to study very hard to get into university and so I did. Where I am from this is not always a popular decision, but I knew it was the right one. I studied very hard in primary school. In high school, I increasingly explored, e.g. I did job shadowing at Baragwanath hospital. I read more and thus I learned more. I came to learn about the realities of our country and our continent, the shortage of doctors, malnutrition, wars and pandemics, but the one problem that struck my heart the most was the growing phenomenon of natural disasters. Africa is more prone to natural disasters compared to other continents and unfortunately it has less systems in place to detect and take action of such phenomena, should they happen. I asked myself what I can do. And it was obvious that I would want to be there where it happened, not just to be there but help. Help with food, clothes and providing free medical help. Right then I knew what I wanted to do. Learning about Doctors Without Borders and Mother Teresa further enforced my decision to study medicine and so I worked hard to get into medical school. Today I am happy to say that I am a second-year medical student at the best university in Africa! I know that I still have a duty to work very hard to fulfil my dream not only for me, but for my African people as well. I was given free education regardless of my background. This is an opportunity that most people on our continent are deprived of because of their social status, the colour of their skin and their gender. I know that I won’t change the world just by becoming a doctor, but I know I will be there in the hardest times, through pandemics and all. I will be there to help those in need, to help them cross the bridge of sorrow and suffering, just like all the teachers, family members and friends have done for me. I am committing myself to pass on this baton of love, kindness and humanity to the people who will find themselves in my hands. I am going to be the best doctor for my people.

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