23 May 2017

Health education is not just a doctor’s job


“That’s great. There are people who are old but still eager to serve. He uses his wealth for the benefit of many people and is willing to sell what he has to help people. If you want to help people, don’t wait to have a lot of money. Help with what you have and what you can!” My aunt told me this while watching a TV talk show with Dr. Lie Dharmawan, founder of doctorSHARE.

My heart spoke: someday, I would definitely get to meet that crazy doctor. I never imagined that I would be able to join doctorSHARE because I work in education, not medical field.

I believe God always answers our prayers and good intentions. In late 2015, I met one of doctorSHARE’s members, Sylvie Tanaga. We met during the “Menyapa Negeriku” program initiated by the Ministry of Research and Technology. The program invited the general public to see the portrait of education in the 3T (Frontier, Outermost and Disadvantaged) areas.

I was a chaperone and Sylvie was a participant in my group. At the airport, we chatted about East Aceh, where we would be visiting. When discussing health, I was interested to hear Sylvie’s stories about her journey with doctorSHARE on medical service missions in remote areas.

“Are doctors the only ones who can volunteer with doctorSHARE?” I asked. It turns out that anyone can volunteer considering that health is not only the responsibility of doctors but every individual. Teachers also play a role in disease prevention efforts by teaching healthy living behaviors. I strengthened my intention to become a volunteer. No matter how small my contribution, there must be benefits.

In July 2016, I had the opportunity to register as a volunteer. I was involved with various doctorSHARE activities starting from being an ambassador who introduced the organization’s profile to the public, recording logistics and medicines, to finally participating in medical services to the Pidie Jaya area, Aceh.

December 7, 2016, an earthquake struck Pidie Jaya, Aceh Province. I was contacted by Sylvie and Dr. Herli to be part of the doctorSHARE team responsible for trauma healing activities for children affected by the earthquake. The dilemma arose because on December 10 I had to take the National Exam as a requirement for passing the Teacher Professional Education while the departure date fell on December 12. I decided to go, regardless of the exam results.

On December 12, 2016 in the early hours of the morning, I left for Pidie Jaya with a young and vibrant team. Arriving in the afternoon, the team immediately began medical services. The doctors set up tables and chairs to examine patients, while I went to the meunasah (Quranic center that looks like a house on stilts) where children and mothers had gathered.

The earthquake may have destroyed homes and schools, but not their spirit. At first, they were shy to gather. When we started singing, they enthusiastically gathered. We played and learned at the same time.

All team members helped each other, both during the medical services and during the trauma healing activities. A warm and friendly atmosphere was quickly created. As a first-time doctorSHARE volunteer, I felt familiar and enthusiastic.

Seeing the enthusiasm of the children who longed for school, I also racked my brain to create an atmosphere of playing while learning in conditions of minimal equipment. These children consisted of various age ranges. We played in groups with a variety of ages in each group. The children worked together to create and take turns telling stories in front of their friends.

Through trauma healing activities after the earthquake, we hope that the children in Pidie Jaya will remain enthusiastic, creative and brave enough to express their ideas in public. In the game, I also inserted lessons about self-care. The children there already know how to take care of themselves but they still don’t apply it in their daily lives.

Sad indeed. On the other hand, it made me realize that I must first familiarize myself with healthy living before lecturing the students. Teachers must set a living example, not just transfer theory. And it is true that implementing clean and healthy living behavior is the responsibility of everyone from any background.

A doctor can heal the sick but as a teacher, I also have a moral obligation to teach students about clean and healthy living behaviors. Fortunately, I met young volunteers from various backgrounds who work together across fields in helping others in areas with minimal access to health.