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There’s a very special celebration taking place today in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, where a group of refugees are returning as physicians.

What makes them special, CTV’s Kevin Green reports, is they are coming home after being trained as doctors in Calgary.

The decision they made to return to southern Sudan has them being hailed as heroes in their homeland.

 

Many Calgarians helped the refugee doctors achieve their goal and some of them are in Juba for their African graduation ceremony. Kevin Green spoke with Dr. Michael Tut Pur, a Sudanese doctor who has Canadian citizenship, as well as Lorne Jacobson from the Arthur J.E. Child Foundation, John Clayton from Samaritan’s Purse, and Ruth Parent of the University of Calgary.

Sudan is desperately in need of physicians. Dr. Michael Tut Pur is one of the doctors working in southern Sudan.

“Actually many people ask me ‘why did you come back? Why do you come when you have everything there in Canada. You have the luxury life there’. I tell them, ‘luxury is not everything’.”

There aren’t any luxuries here in Sudan. Hospitals have little or no sanitation. Pharmacies are often without drugs. Patients are in the most extreme need.

Dr. Tut Pur says, “Many people didn’t expect a doctor would come here because of the hostility and insecurity in the area." Dr. Tut Pur was 10-years-old and in a refugee camp when he was brought to Cuba along with other boys to train as a rebel leader. He earned a medical degree, but when he arrived in Canada as a refugee again, the degrees weren't recognized.

A Calgary-based charitable foundation heard their story and wanted to help.

Lorne Jacobson of the Arthur J.E. Child Foundation says: “Not only are they contributing in a clinical medical way but they are strengthening the community and it’s the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for them too. They are back home using their skills.”

The Arthur Child Foundation worked with Samaritan’s Purse Canada, which is headquartered in Calgary, and has operations in Sudan.

Samaritan’s John Clayton says, “And we saw in this group of physicians the possibility of bringing back people that had a passion to be here.” Together the two charities convinced the University of Calgary to help the doctors finish their training.

Ruth Parent of the University of Calgary says, “We have never done anything like this before. We train international doctors at the University of Calgary who will practice in Canada, and we’ve never done this before, and that’s a good question why would we do it? We simply did it because it was the right thing to do.”

Today the government of southern Sudan celebrated the doctors, in a graduation and commissioning ceremony.

The doctors, like Tut Pur, don’t see themselves as heroes but they are being told their choice to return to Sudan was heroic, not just for the medical skills they bring, but also for the hope they inspire.

Following their lead, there is hope that others might return, to help rebuild this country.

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