Monday, September 15, 2008

Dr Derek facing Deportation

I was stirred from my relaxed mood this morning by a tragically farce news story on sent to us by Pennys Mum Doff recently My aggravation has been only partially addressed by the follow up this evening here

This is the same Dr Derek that Penny and I worked with for a month just recently on the islands of Pulau Pulau Batu off Sumatras west coast.

It appears Derek is in trouble for his rescue of an injured Australian surfer. The link to the details of this rescue and its aftermath is here Check out particularly the update dated 15\06\08.

Derek has his faults, his medicine is not applied or focussed in the rational western fashion. He clings to patients he decides he can make a real difference for rather than following a more utilitarian approach. An example recently has been his devotion to Leone a six month old baby with a cleft palate and TB who would surely have died had it not been for his personal care for a month, a task he undertook gladly although it probably left him less able to undertake other work. My theory is that it is these personal conections or "saving of lives" as Derek would put it that have sustained him through 20 years of working in environments which border on the ridiculous and would leave lesser people screaming with frustration. It is no surprise at all that Derek undertook the flight to rescue the Australian surfer and I am sure he would do it again even if he had the Indonesian airforce on his tail

To put this in context, Tello is the centre of an island group containing around 30,000 people. It has a private $2 million NGO funded hospital with 35 fulltime staff which no-one can afford to use. It has a community health centre with five fulltime staff who do absolutely nothing and it has Dr Derek, his translator Given and a rag tag bunch of volunteers primarily from NZ who run 2 clinics a day treating about 100 people a time.

A public service job in Indonesia once bought (as that is how they are acquired, including sometimes with qualifications) is a licence to do no work. Incompetence and corruption is endemic. While one bureaucracy is trying to kick Derek out of the country, another trys to extort money for the return of his helicopter. Its like 50% of the people in the country sit around all day trying to figure out ways to get money for doing nothing. Im glad in NZ there are far fewer of us.

Derek acts with a humanistic, romantic view of the world to make positive change, Im glad someone in Indonesian society has recognised that with his award, I hope the less far sighted bureaucracy get off his back.

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