Going Back

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       March 21, 2019


Author  Munjed Al Muderis and Patrick Weaver

Distributor:      Allen & Unwin
ISBN:                 9781760633165
Publisher:         Allen and Unwin
Release Date:   March 2019  

Website:    https://www.allenandunwin.com 

Going back to any component of a life already lived is always challenging, but when it is returning to a country left under massive duress, your life hanging by a whim, a mere thread, the reality is something different altogether.

Munjed Al Muderis’s story is one well known as a man whom, as a young Doctor fled the regimen of Hassam Hussain, finding himself one of the many thousands of refugees reliant on people smugglers to find a safe place, a place in which to begin to re-establish a new life.

Eventually, and after some considerable time on Christmas Island in the Curtain Detention Centre, he was granted asylum in Australia. Not one to waste a very hard-won opportunity, he set about using his medical background as an orthopaedic surgeon to forge a new life and in doing so became a leader in the ground-breaking technique of osseointegration; a technic which implants titanium rods into the human skeleton which then allows robotic limbs to be attached, granting the person unimagined mobility and freedom of movement.

A phone call from the Iraqi government requesting he return to Iraq to carry out much needed operations on army, police and eventually civilian amputees, set his pathway in a new direction, a direction he never, ever envisaged, that of bringing much needed humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq. He granted the request, but it was not until he was almost ready to land in the country of this birth, he began to have some serious second and third thoughts about what he had committed both his team and himself to, in the coming days.

His story of Going Back fills in some of the many gaps in his life as an international surgeon, with many of the stories told full of heartbreak, acceptance and courage. He talks about the healing and help his skills a have been able to give to survivors of the Christchurch earthquake, soldiers from Britain, Australia, Iraq and the many Australian civilians who have been given the gift of mobility and in the case of so many people in Iraq, the gift of life.

His insights into the horrors of the continuous war faced in Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Palestine/Israel is enlightening, his brushes with authority in Egypt and America interesting indeed and also laced with irony, in the case of the United States.

Each chapter peels back the other side of humanitarian work in war torn, corrupt countries but it also shows the immense gratitude such work generates from people who have had enough of war, enough of politics and simply want to be able to lead a fruitful and positive life.

Going Back is a wonderful, heart-warming look at the good that can be engendered world wide when politics, humanity and hope combine.