Susanne Keckel
Elias Engelking
If friends would have asked me one and a half years ago, where I would see myself in two years, I would probably have said that I would be specializing as a psychiaric nurse. Now everything looks completely different: On new year 2003/04 I met Elias. In the course of our relationship he inspired me more and more for a journey to India.
On the one hand this journey is going to be a test for our relationship. And on the other I would like to get to know this country Elias dreams so much about. The more I learn about this country and I speak to others the more certainly I want to dare this adventure.
This journey means to me to give up specialising as a psychiatric nurse, to give up my secure job and to quit my flat: to give up securities that have always been very important to me. Now I have taken these steps, I feel free and independent. I am ready for something new. Nevertheless I have doubts too. If Elias would not have promised me to return back to Germany within one week if needed, I do not know whether I would have gone so far. I am very curious, as to whether I will get on with this country.
We shall see...

Susanne Keckel 
Freiburg, May 2005

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Well..., to start from the beginning...
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 and Vellore). 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