This year is a particularly poignant year for me personally since it will mark the 50th anniversary of my family’s exodus from East Africa.
My maternal grandfather was put on a ship from India at the age of 8 and arrived in Tanzania, Africa to build his future. My parents were both born in East Africa, and both my brother and I were also born there. We were rooted in both African and Indian culture, speaking Swahili and adopting many of the customs while staying true to our Indian heritage. I was born in Moshi, Tanzania and grew up in Kampala, Uganda.
Many Indians had been brought to Uganda in 1894, while it was under British rule, to build railways. Those who remained went on to become dominant figures in the country’s economy – something Idi Amin resented. Idi Amin was a general in the Ugandan Army and through a military coup in 1971 he assumed a dictatorship of the country. On August 4th, 1972 he announced to approximately 70,000 Asians living in the East African country, they had just 90 days to leave. Terror and fear enveloped the country as Asians and Europeans rushed to escape.
With the help of the United Nations and other organizations, my family fled Uganda and were welcomed to Canada. For months we lived in army barracks in Montreal until they could resettle us close to other family members. My parents started the long and arduous process of assimilation. As many immigrant families, they endured many hardships. My parents worked tirelessly to give my brother and I opportunities to succeed.
Now, on the 50th anniversary of our exile, it is a good time to reflect. Creating a meaningful life is not an option but a requirement when you have seen others make sacrifices so you can succeed. It also builds a sense that you must give back as others gave to you.
I have been fortunate to have found a profession that I love, but also one that has given me countless opportunities to give back. Helping my patients hear has been rewarding and fulfilling and brings me joy every day. The ability to travel worldwide and share my knowledge and bring hearing healthcare to those in need is my life mission. Going back to Africa, reminds me of my roots. Going to Jordan and helping the refugees remind me of my history. Next year, I hope to travel to India for the first time, and this will help to remind me of who I am.
With the closing of 2022, I urge all my patients to think of ways that you can give back. A simple smile or kind word can make a difference. We can all do something. Hearing Partners will be adopting a family in need and closing the year knowing that we gave back to our patients, community and staff.
We wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season and may the spirit of giving live in your hearts always!