THREE Santa Maria College students were left inspired by a meeting with former asylum seeker turned pioneering surgeon Munjed al Muderis.
Dr Al Muderis shared his remarkable life story as the keynote speaker for the 2016 MercyCare Oration, speaking about his experience as a refugee, his drive to become a leading orthopaedic surgeon and his work as a human rights activist.
As a first-year resident doctor in Iraq, Dr Al Muderis was forced to flee his homeland after he rejected Saddam Hussein’s brutal orders to amputate the ears of Iraqi army deserters.
But arriving in Australia as a refugee was barely an escape.
He was locked in solitary confinement at Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in the Kimberley for 10 months before finally being granted a visa to stay.
Driven by a deep desire to change the lives of amputees, Dr Al Muderis continued his career in medicine to become a world leader in osseointegration surgery; a pioneering technique that has enabled amputees to walk again.
The trio of Santa Maria students – Rose Grier, Eve Miller and Breanna Tory – earned the opportunity to attend the Oration and meet with Dr Al Muderis after winning a school essay competition staged by MercyCare.
Eve said the meeting Dr Al Muderis was incredible.
“Munjed’s recollection of being known by a number and not a name while in detention opened my eyes up to a system that dehumanises asylum seekers,” she said.
“His presentation has inspired me to focus on my studies towards what I hope is a future in both medicine and human rights, just like him.”
MercyCare chief executive Chris Hall said Dr Al Muderis had been invited to present the 2016 Oration because his poignant personal story and advocacy work closely aligned with MercyCare’s support for refugees and asylum seekers.
“It’s wonderful to hear that Munjed’s personal story resonated so deeply with the students, and helped them gain a better understanding of the experiences of refugees in this country,” he said.