By Amy Pieterse
Painfully long queues, a dire shortage of doctors, and only one hospital. For years this has been the situation for the nearly 40,000 people who live in Cradock.
When Dr. Nosimphiwo Peni was completing her community service in the small town in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, she faced exhaustion and trauma trying to deal with scores of patients and limited resources.
Rather than moving to a city to chase better opportunities, Peni made another choice: to stay and give back.
Peni grew up in Paterson, just two hours away from Cradock.
With only one clinic, she understood the devastating impact of the limited doctors in rural areas.
After she qualified, Peni sacrificed her aspirations of specialising further in medicine. She moved her life to Cradock and opened its only 24-hour clinic.
Peni is the sole doctor working there, and lives above the practice. Although it is difficult for her to be away from her family and children, she knows that without her presence in Cradock, lives would be on the line.
“Anytime when my patients need me, I need to be actively there, and accessible to them,” Peni says.
Her dedication goes beyond giving her time. Not wanting to take out a loan, she self-funded the medical practice and bought the necessary resources with her savings.
It was an enormous risk, but Peni believes in her undertaking.
“I realised that this change needed to come, and it needed to come from me,” she says.
Peni hopes to expand the clinic and employ people from Cradock.
“I am so proud that I was able to provide my community with hope,” she says.
This doctor’s resolute commitment shows that our choices can transform lives. “If you want to do good,” Peni says, “you can.”