My former boss, mentor and soulmate, Dr Achmad Mediana, is a very optimistic man powered by faith in God and in humanity. Once, I had to give a presentation and whilst I talked about the high maternal mortality rates, he smiled beatifically and said, “demographic bonus”, contradicting the thesis of my presentation totally.

Due to a stagnation in the country’s health education and birth control programme, Indonesia’s population is set to grow by nearly a third, to 305 million people, by 2035 from the 240 million now.  Indonesia thus faces huge challenge in providing healthcare, education and infrastructure for its young whom I see loitering around the streets doing nothing. I see the problems whilst my boss talks about a young workforce which will make Indonesia rise as China declines due to its ageing population.

But anyhow we are both doctors, not social scientists. Or in my boss’s words, we are trishaw pullers (tukang becha). When I first arrived, he used to say this poem all the time, “Dokter, tukang becha, sama-sama aje. Siang malam tunggu pangillan age” which basically translates to mean: doctors and trishaw pullers are the same, we just wait for the call to serve. Nothing more. Medicine is a vocation, not grandeur.

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Hmmmmmm. But something about our years in Indonesia must have struck a chord deep in my 15 year old daughter.  Today, 9th of April 2016, she is at the Royal Society of Medicine in London because her entry had been shortlisted for the Poster Presentation Prize 2016 – BeyondBORDERS: The future of global surgery.

That’s quite an achievement for a 15 year old because the Royal Society of Medicine UK is a professional medical organisation for post-graduate medical students.

As I have no role in helping her, I don’t know what the poster look like apart from this:

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Good luck, my darling girl. And if you ever choose to be a doctor, I hope you will come back to Indonesia and finish off what I started here. May God bless you and Indonesia.