Dr Cham Ariyasinghe is a registrar who’s been working as a locum in a Covid-19 clinic in Wodonga, Australia since it first opened in early March 2020. We interviewed him about his experience (read the article here), shortly before he flew off to Syria on a mission with MSF (Doctors Without Borders). We asked him WHY he decided to become a doctor and if doing aid work was one of opportunities that inspired him to study medicine.
When I was a kid I wanted to be an English teacher for the longest time and I chanced into medicine. To be totally honest what I have always loved is the chance to help.
On a basic level, doctors and nurses and physios, all healthcare workers, come to work to get something out of being able to help and make a person’s life easier. To see a smile or see someone in an outpatient clinic when they’ve gotten better. That is such a powerful thing.
I have always wanted to do aid work because I think there are lots of parts of the world that I feel are totally forgotten about and there’s a huge amount of need in a lot of places. It’s not that I’m doing it for the gratitude, I just think there’s something really nice about helping someone that is down and out and being able to provide some level of assistance.
I grew up in Hong Kong, but my background is Sri Lankan and I used to go back on holiday and there’s civil war and bombing and a lot of things that you don’t hear about. It’s a country that had very proud, sufficient and functional health services. Even in those early memories, I thought that there was something really great about going into the field; to remove yourself from your life and privilege to help someone who is less fortunate.