In 2002, Ravinesh Ram, a Fijian sugar cane worker, suffered burns to 30% of his body after lighting a cigarette in a highly combustive cane field. His neck was fused to his chest and he lost use of both hands. In 2004, Ravi was brought to Australia and operated on by Melbourne Plastic Surgeon John Crock, who had become aware of his plight after volunteer work with Interplast Australia in the Northern reaches of Fiji between 2003 and 2008. Subsequently, Ravi regained use of his hands, and movement of his neck and head.
Stories like Ravi’s are what inspired John to start Aussie Health Abroad in 2008. Not only did he see the need for first class direct medical care, but more importantly he saw the need to develop a sustainable approach to training local surgeons to treat cases like Raja’s that arise in their own backyard. Aussie Health Abroad was previously known as Vakabauta Australia (meaning “Faith”) and was officially recognised by AusAID late in 2008. Now Aussie Health Abroad is in the process of applying for full DGR Status and Tax Deductability. Currently donations from companies who partner with AHA and use their support as an advertising tool are fully tax deductible.
While direct medical care forms part of the vision, it is the goal of AHA to provide training that will teach doctors in underprivileged regions of the world how to handle cases that they previously didn’t have to the expertise to meet. Through conferences, one on one teaching and specific mentoring it is our aim to increase the skill level of medical professionals to meet the medical challenges that currently go untreated.