This is absolutely an insiders story of how a practising surgeon from a wealthy, respected family in Baghdad, came to Australia as a refugee. I have heard and seen many news reports and television documentaries about refugees, but have never followed one person’s journey from beginning to end. This account is factually told about his hasty decision to “leave now or be shot.”
The story begins during the reign of Saddam Hussein in 1999. Surgeons operating at a hospital were told to disfigure some captives the soldiers had bought into the hospital. The head surgeon refused and was shot dead. By dint of hiding, Munjed evaded the soldiers all day and by night drove to a friend’s house. He knew there was no turning back and that he was a wanted man and choose to leave the country. (Doctors were not allowed to leave the country).
He documents how each step of the way he was often helped by friends and also by the cash his mother was able to send him for passports and passages.
After a tortuous journey during which he was filled with fear of being discovered, Munjed eventually finds himself on a small, very- overcrowded wooden boat, leaving Indonesia for Australia.
The risks that he had to take and the people who helped him, are described clearly and the reader gains an impression of the dangers he faced. When leaving Iraq, Munjed arrived at the Passport control, and saw that the Officer was a former patient. Fortunately, the Officer did not recognise him. There are many examples like this in his relating of his story.
He tells us of the horrendous overcrowding on the small wooden boat which left Indonesia. After sailing for a short time, the captain abandoned the boat and the refugees were left to steer it themselves.
I found it astonishing when he reported the treatment of the refugees on the boat, and also at the Curtin Detention Centre. He was at the Detention Centre for almost a year, having been advised on the boat to throw his passport overboard. By doing this, it took longer to process his application.Eventually, Munjed was released and he caught a bus to Perth.
To establish himself in the Australian Medical profession, he had to sit many exams. Munjed now specialises and is a world leader in Osseo-integration. To achieve this level of excellence, along with a happy settled family, shows his many fine character traits.
As you read the book, you will be impressed with this man’s courage and determination to achieve his goals. Many of us would find it difficult to endure the hardships he faced and overcame. On board the boat, and at the Detention Centre, he cared for people who were ill, constantly monitoring their well-being.
He is indeed an extraordinary man!
|Author||Munjed Al Muderis and Patrick Weaver|
|Publisher||Allen & Unwin|