When I was a seven-year-old boy my father read a book to me about the "jungle doctor" Albert Schweitzer. Since then it was my dream to become a "doctor".
I studied medicine at the Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany. I spent part of my studies in India (see reports on Darjeeling
). I did the final year at the Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa and at the University Clinic in Freiburg as well as at the University Clinic Victor Ségalen in Bordeaux, France. I have been working as a physician in the department of general surgery in Freiburg for the last 18 months.
This "vision" to work à la Schweitzer, got a bit lost during my studies, but flashed up during my electives abroad. But in the past months I dared to dream this dream so far, that I have to find out, whether it is not now the time to realize it. Susanne and I are planing this half year in India in order to see whether we are made for it, and whether this vision falls on fruitful soil.
Susanne got in contact with the pediatrician Ms. Dr. Monika Golembiewski, who for years has been supplying simple medical help to the village of the people of the Santhal near Calcutta. The next larger city to these villages Santiniketan [Shantiniketan] has a magic attraction for us. The Indian poet and Nobel Prizewinner Rabindranath Tagore founded a university there.
Our journey leads us first to Leh, the capital of the mountain province Ladakh. The city lies at 3500m altitude west of Tibet in the Himalaya. I want to make myself familiar with the surgical customs in the local government hospital.
We are planning to continue our journey over Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile with the Dalai Lama as head then on over Musoorie, Varanassi, Santiniketan and on to Calcutta.
My dream is the materialisation of a vision: To build up a small hospital in Santiniketan in five to ten years with 10 to 20 beds concentrating on surgery. I hope to have "Ärzte für die dritte Welt", a german non-government organisation in Calcutta and "action medeor" as partners.
After our journey this year I will be looking for a mentor in an urban hospital in South Germany, in order to complete my specialisation in surgery.
to be continued...
Dr. Elias Engelking
Freiburg, May 2005