25 August 2015

Once free, always free!


August is a sacred month for our nation. We have just commemorated Independence Day with much fanfare and thanksgiving to God Almighty. But let us take a moment to reflect on the meaning contained in the cry of independence.

Is that heroic cry still relevant today, 70 years after Indonesia’s independence was proclaimed?

This is precisely the right time to contemplate the meaning behind our independence. The political independence that we have gained with the sacrifice of the body and soul of the fighters is a “golden bridge” that leads us to build an “ivory palace” on the other side of the bridge.

For the founding fathers, independence was clearly not the end goal of the struggle but a means for the country that had gained political independence to develop itself according to its ideals.

We have achieved freedom from colonizers. But colonizers in other forms are still entrenched in our country. Honesty to see the problems we face and determination and hard work in the spirit of mutual cooperation are absolutely necessary to fill independence.

All the attributes and praises that we carry such as the largest archipelago in the world, the third largest democratic (procedural) country in the world, a fertile, beautiful and rich country, and so on are actually a double burden that we must carry.

How could it not be. Despite being rich, many of our people are still colonized by poverty. Despite the many science Olympiad champions, many of our brothers and sisters are still colonized by ignorance. Although Jakarta is dotted with flashy houses, many people in the regions are still colonized by disease.

The disparity between the rich and the poor and between high-income areas and low-income areas is so contrasting. There are also rich areas with poor populations and minimal infrastructure, especially in eastern Indonesia.

Indonesia’s Human Development Index is low as reflected in the high maternal mortality rate, infant and under-five mortality rates, prevalence of malnourished infants, and so on (Ministry of Health Strategic Plan 2014-2019, page 28).

The saying “if there is no cause, there is no effect” is apt. We often look for the guilty party or the scapegoat. Once the sinner is identified, he is blamed. Finding the guilty person is important but identifying the problem and addressing it is much more important.

The fact that medical services in remote areas are far from adequate prompted us to look for ways to participate in providing suitable and appropriate services.

The idea of creating a mobile hospital on a boat (Floating Hospital) turned out to be very beneficial for those living on remote islands.

We visit those who live in villages that are difficult to reach by motorcycle (mobile clinic). There are even areas on earth that have never been visited by medical personnel since independence was proclaimed. This was told with emotion by community leaders from Gagemba Village, Intan Jaya Regency, Jaya Wijaya Mountains, Papua Province.

We visited them and conducted medical services on foot through the wilderness, climbing and descending mountains. For that, we flew first with a pioneer airplane to areas that could be landed by small planes. Our “Flying Doctors” action is to reach out to those who are untouched by the progress and results of our independence.

We hope that what we have started through doctorSHARE will not only be beneficial but also inspire many people – especially medical workers – to do the same (***)

Photo by: Sylvie Tanaga (doc. doctorSHARE)