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The Hospital Welfare and Muslim Education Movement reaffirms its commitment to UWC and education

Author: Jerome Cornelius

A long and proud legacy of philanthropy by an organisation, founded during World War II, was on full display at the University of the Western Cape on Thursday.

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(Published - 20 November 2018)

The Hospital Welfare and Muslim Education Movement (HWMEM) stopped by the University to make a donation of R577 500.

HWMEM, founded in 1942 to satisfy dietary needs of Muslim soldiers admitted to Somerset Hospital, represents various interests in the community. Their services include hospital kitchen inspections, mortuary services and social welfare and outreach programmes.

The bursaries are open to people of all faiths and the HWMEM has assisted students at UCT, UWC, CPUT, Stellenbosch and other smaller institutions. The charitable group of delegates stopped over at UWC on November 15 to drop off the cheque, and recounted their last visit to UWC, when the university was rocked by the Fees Must Fall protests.

UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tyrone Pretorius, thanked the group of “old friends and partners” for the donation and also recounted the university’s long history of struggle and success.

“Money isn’t everything, but there is a sense of security of finances,” he said. A big problem is what Pretorius called “the missing middle” - students who are too “rich” to qualify for financial aid, but too poor to afford university fees. He thanked HWMEM for helping to reduce this gap.

Pretorius spoke of his open email policy towards students, and how he is affected by the plight of the disadvantaged who contact him, particularly about hunger on campus. “It touches me so deeply, but it cannot be ad hoc. It must be systemic,” he said of the help provided to students.

He marvelled at how he is the fifth rector of UWC to be in contact with HWMEM, dating back to Professor Richard van der Ross. HWMEM President and UWC lecturer Akbar Khalfe said the first cheque in the education scheme was for R720, and was awarded in 1972.

Khalfe said education is their biggest portfolio. “Whatever difference we can make, we are honoured to be here and to help shape students’ lives. We are planning for the next 75 years,” said Khalfe.

Deputy Vice Chancellor: Student Development and Support, Professor Pamela Dube, thanked the group for their continued efforts in helping students, and said the contribution was “something bigger, not just about money”. She said the University, in helping disadvantaged students, aims to respect dignity and ensure that "poverty is not exhibited", by keeping queues for financial aid short, swift and discreet.

Education secretary for HWMEM, Nazeer Khalfe, praised UWC for their direct involvement with the community, but said there is a long way to go. “We are more unequal today than we were 30 years ago because the cost of living is unaffordable. Many children are lost,” he said.

The group reaffirmed their commitment to their cause and to the University.


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