Friends for Healthcare and Humanity

Friends for Healthcare and Humanity

  
Venita Eng Venita Eng

Passionate about quality of life and terminal care, Venita loves her daily service to patients since 2010 and frequently speak in medical and public forum/media about health, cancer, palliative care, and patient dignity.

I believe that a great friend is someone who encourages and empowers you, but also someone who would not hesitate to correct you.

I found that mentor and friend in Dr Ramaswamy Akhileswaran.

I first met Dr Akhileswaran or Dr A (as some colleagues called him) in 2011 as a medical student when I went for elective posting in Palliative Care Department in Singapore. At that time, he was the Director of HCA Hospice Care. He earned a lot of respect with his leadership and strong guidance. Although I didn’t get to speak much with him due to his busy schedule, I feel honoured to meet and know him.

Fast forward to 2015, I was appointed to coordinate a Palliative Care project in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was a joint collaboration between Indonesian Cancer Foundation Jakarta chapter, Rachel House Foundation, and Singapore International Foundation (SIF). Palliative care is a healthcare discipline which aim to improve quality of life, and especially applicable to patient with terminal disease or having distress/suffering at the end-of-life. At that time, Palliative Care was a relatively unknown field in Indonesia and an important unmet need in society.

However, as much as we want to serve the patient and contribute to society, we realised we were lacking resources to learn. Which is why, when I heard that there would be Singapore International Volunteer (SIV) through SIF who would come to Indonesia and participate in a three-year mentoring program, I was really grateful.

Moreover, I was overjoyed to find out that Dr A was the one who would lead the team in Jakarta (He actually looked younger than when I had seen him years ago!). He was still a strong leader, but at this time I also got to see his friendly and approachable side. The other participants and I always had an inspiring time when talking with him.

It was not an easy project for three years, but working together with Dr A and team of SIV made things easier to go through and enjoyable as well. When I looked at the writing on their jackets, “making friends for a better world,” I do believe it is true. Improving lives of people from another country with teaching, sharing knowledge, and making new friends along the way, is indeed something beautiful. 

After the project finished, another surprise came in 2018 when I got an email to apply for ASEAN Youth Fellowship program for young leaders, thanks to Dr A’s nomination. I am grateful that Dr A also took his time to encourage and see potential that I myself didn’t realise I had back then. From the event, I learned about making a larger scale impact, and how to collaborate between countries to achieve greater goals together. Most importantly, I got to make new amazing friends to laugh and to work with 😊

The mentoring friendship I have with Dr A is a delightful start of my making friends with people from many countries, especially Singapore where I am residing now for further training. I always believe that in healthcare and humanity, there is a limit to what we can do by ourselves. As the African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.”

Do you have a friend like that too? Someone who is from a country, culture and community different from yours? Someone whose life experiences you can’t always relate to? How did that friendship grow into one that serves others? Write a blog about it! Click here to pitch your story.

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Venita Eng Venita Eng
Passionate about quality of life and terminal care, Venita loves her daily service to patients since 2010 and frequently speak in medical and public forum/media about health, cancer, palliative care, and patient dignity.