Most of my bizarre ideas are like the finest of coffees. Both of them are brewed in cafes, and before that final process, it takes a lot of time to cultivate, process, grinded, tamped upon and put under pressure. As I was having my usual morning caffeine kick at a small sidewalk café in India, a flash of idea brewed upon me. It started by asking myself ‘how did I get here?’ followed by ‘what does this journey, that I have trotted so far for, means to me?’ The journey I thought of was not of my trip to get there in India. No, not that. I was thinking about the journey of my life, is this all to it?
I was in Mumbai for an International Workshop on Healthcare and Medical Education, so days before I had to listen to hours and hours of lecture on the Indian healthcare system by one of India’s prominent public health specialist. She explained about all the good side and also the lacunas in the country’s healthcare system. I have always been interested in the healthcare system everywhere I go to (I ended up learning more about the National Health Service, NHS in the UK when I am supposed to learn ENT there). Then we went to the slums area. The situation there is beyond words, the people were poor, living in small, dark spaces, some of them downright unhygienic. The words of the public health specialist kept resounding in my head: ‘’we are good on policies but rarely on implementation’’. Then I remembered these words from the Holy Quran:
O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do. Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall (Quran, Ash Shaff : 2-4)
I began to think about myself. Traveling the world, seeing new places, experiencing bizarre things, winning awards and speaking in public might seem fulfilling to me. But is that all to it? I can write pages and pages and speak for hours and hours on suggestions of policies that could improve the health care of those who are most deprived of, but is writing and talking all that I can do? What can I do to walk all my talk?
I have been thinking about that a lot lately.
A few months ago, a Muslim Cambodian was invited to our house to give an overview of the situation of the Muslim community there in Cambodia. The situation there is that while many missionaries from Malaysia were there to build schools, provide shelter and food, they still lack health care services. It felt like a calling to me to see what I can do. My father sparked the idea of building a charitable hospital there. However, he has his own new endeavour of setting up a medical school that he has less time to work on that idea. It came to me that maybe I can take over the project. That idea was cultivated, processed, grinded, tamped upon and put under pressure in my mind until the time in that café in Mumbai where I have decided that with guidance from the words of the Almighthy as stated in Ash Shaff : 2-4, I will start this new endeavour. Health care is my specialty, I have the knowledge, and this is the time for me to put it to good use, ‘to fight in Allah’s way in ranks as if I am a firm and compact wall’. I am going to start saving the world by helping the most destitute people. I am going to start with Cambodia. This weekend, I will be going to Cambodia with my parents to visit the community there, assess the situation and start planning something. This is going to be a long endeavour. It might take months or years to see results, but I will strive to be persistent in this.
I might be young, I might be naïve, I might not have a clue of what lies ahead. But mainly what makes a weakness might also makes a strength, as how a strong sword can also be tempered into a strong shield. By not knowing what lies ahead, it keeps me going on to discover and keep challenging myself and asking ‘’what happens next?’’. For now, what happens next is that I am going to Cambodia, keep on writing and speaking about the situation there to raise funds, and set up something that could sustain the efforts physically and financially. Obviously, I cannot do this alone. I will need help from other people: friends, family and colleagues. It might not seem clear yet what sort of organization or foundation I am going to form, but I sure will know when I get back from Cambodia this weekend. Pray that Allah be with me.