Doctor’s free op heals UWC graduate body and soul
Being involved in UWC academic, social and cultural life seems to have its benefits, as Anelisa Baiiso found out recently when she received a free operation from a kindly doctor who offered her a new lease on life when he corrected a left leg that was longer than the other. When she attended her graduation ceremony on 11 April 2017, Anelisa received a special mention from the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tyrone Pretorius, and was heartily applauded for her determination to succeed.
Anelisa broke her right leg in 1999 on her home street in the Eastern Cape after she had a bad fall while running. Two operations were performed on her leg - on her knee and on her thigh - in 1999 and 2000. While the operations were a success, she didn’t go back for a check-up, and her right leg grew shorter than her left over the years.
As a result, walking became very uncomfortable and extremely challenging - she could not walk long distances or stand for long periods, as she would tire quickly and experience pain in the leg. And this awkward gait didn’t spare her the cruel remarks of her peers at school - and as a result she suffered emotionally and struggled with loving herself.
But Anelisa didn’t let that interfere with her involvement in campus life. She joined UWC in 2015, studying Social Work with an aim to help uplift and empower the underprivileged and disadvantaged. She made a point of doing her bit for her campus community, despite her physical disability, and showed her commitment to attend her graduation when she turned up to the ceremony, leg brace and all - only days after her operation. And it is her talent and passion for music, and her willingness to rise to the occasion, that led to that operation in the first place.
Singing her way into our hearts - and to recovery
Anelisa joined the UWC choir after receiving plenty of praise for her big, golden voice. A personal highlight for her was when the choir reached the semi-finals in the Varsity Sing competition - an exciting opportunity. She was picked to lead the song “Stand by me”.
“To me it was really significant to be singing this song; it was what made the operation possible and I believe it was something which was planned by God.”
Originally, she was not meant to sing lead until a few days before the semi-finals; she felt anxious and nervous, but practiced to a point where she felt confident. She had to step forward to enjoy centre stage when it was time for her solo - and that performance ultimately led to a life-changing opportunity.
The CEO of Varsity Sports, Duiter Bosman, took note of her plight, and persuaded his neighbor - Dr. Dirk Nell, who happens to be a knee surgeon – to take notice as well during Varsity Sing, a very popular choir competition produced by the television channel, KykNet.
The doctor recognised her condition as one that could be rectified by means of an operation, and was moved to assist her.
After the competition she was contacted by her conductor, Sibusiso Njeza, informing her that Dr. Nell wanted to meet her - a meeting that would result in a new lease on life for the young singer.
The operation to straighten her leg was done in March 2017 and the straightening process is still in progress.
Anelisa is now awaiting her second surgery, which will lengthen the right leg, and result in her being able to walk normally again.
She looks forward to working as a professional social worker.
“Accept who you are and the way you look,” Anelisa advises those in similarly difficult situations. “Remember that God put you in these situations for a reason, and so you should love and be happy with yourself. Don’t let others bring you down or make you feel less worthy than you are, because you’re not who you are by accident.”