As my father pointed out to me at dinner tonight, I have a tendency to spend more time talking about negative issues than I do appreciating positive developments that happen in the United States and abroad.
For that reason, I thought my first blog post should be some original content that is both inspirational and uplifting. I wrote this content for an internship that I got but was unable to fulfill due to conflicting commitments. It’s the story of the most inspiring individual I’ve ever encountered and how our interactions influenced me deeply — to strive to be a better person every day than I was the day before. His name is Sasa. He is a friend, a leader, and a solution to the problems of his people. I hope you enjoy.
After a childhood without access to healthcare, education, stable government, or any semblance of infrastructure, one Burmese man perseveres and continues to inspire hope in the hearts of future generations. His name is Dr. Sasa, a real life superhero.
Growing up in the jungles of Burma Dr. Sasa frequently watched as those closest to him perished from what he now recognizes as preventable diseases. He remembers having to travel seven days in the rain through rough mountainous jungle terrain in order to seek medical assistance – many of his friends died on this journey.
Dr. Sasa’s experience, hope, and vision for a different future inspired him to leave his family and his village at the tender age of thirteen. He walked to the capitol of Burma, Yangoon, where he taught himself Burmese (a dialect distinct from his tribal language) and enrolled in high school. Starting in 1988 the Burmese government shut down colleges in Burma responding to student protests. Dr. Sasa was undeterred from pursuing his education. He walked to India taught himself Hindi and English and enrolled in college where he received a B.S. and graduated with honors.
Dr. Sasa then returned to his village where he hoped to apply what he’d learned in his studies to stem the tide of illness. After two years he recognized he needed additional medical training. His village sold their very limited precious belongings and raised a semesters worth of tuition and airfare for medical school in Armenia. After his first semester, Prospect Burma sponsored Dr. Sasa allowing him to stay enrolled until he graduated, receiving his M.D with high honors.
After medical school Dr. Sasa declined to remain in the West, and immediately returned to assist his people, where he put his skills to use by setting up a healthcare training center on the Burmese-Indian border in 2009. During his time in Armenia, Dr. Sasa encountered Lady Caroline Cox, the founder of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust UK (H.A.R.T), and with her assistance, Dr. Sasa created Health and Hope, an organization dedicated to providing basic medical training and spreading awareness of preventative healthcare and first aid techniques.
Dr. Sasa hosts eight-month courses where two representatives from each of the villages in the region of Burma are trained to provide basic healthcare. They return to their villages to promote preventative healthcare, teach basic hygiene, first aid, and sanitation. To date, Sasa has trained over 700 individuals. His journey is the source of a Documentary film bearing his name. Sasa and those around him have taken their well-being back into their own hands. In doing so they have begun to provide hope for those who, until now, thought life was hopeless.