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AMDA Indonesia’s Dr. Tanra receives prize from the Japanese government

Publication date:2020-12-22
 
In acknowledgement of his contribution to the promotion of academic exchange and friendship between Japan and Indonesia, this autumn Dr. Andi Husni Tanra who heads AMDA Indonesia was conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by the Government of Japan.

After obtaining his doctoral degree in anaesthesiology from Japan’s Hiroshima University, Dr. Tanra (born 1943) began his teaching career in his native Hasanuddin University. While holding important positions successively as Head of the Department of Anaesthesiology, followed by Director of the Post Graduate Division and currently as an honorary professor emeritus, he has led AMDA Indonesia as its chairperson for decades to take part in a number of disaster relief activities.

 

Dr. Tanra receiving the Japanese
Foreign Minister’s Commendation

Ever since his organization embarked on its first humanitarian mission in 1992 in response to tsunami and earthquake in Flores Island (Indonesia), AMDA Indonesia has constantly dispatched relief teams at home and abroad. The aid work in which his team took part includes, Sumatra earthquake (1994, 1995), East Timorese refugee assistance (1999), Afghan refugee assistance (2002), Jakarta floods (2002), southeast Iran earthquake (2003) and Sumatra tsunami (2004) to name a few. Particularly, its avid work in the 2004 Sumatra tsunami relief was later commended by the Foreign Minister of Japan.

While actively engaging himself in disaster relief and other humanitarian activities, Dr. Tanra has keenly dedicated himself to Japan-Indonesia cooperation for many years until now. The below article was contributed by Dr. Tanra himself looking back on his ties with Japan.
 

“A postcard that changed my life”

In August 1974, it was at a seminar held at Hiroshima University for Japanese and Indonesian students where I met the university’s late dean Professor Soichi Iijima. Handing me his name card, he said I must write to him should I wish to study in Japan.

Upon graduating my alma mater in Indonesia in July 1975, I sent him a letter which contained only three sentences: “Professor, I graduated. Do you remember your promise? Can I really study in Hiroshima?” As the year 1975 was about to end, after many months of longing I received his reply which said I was accepted as a research student for a year and a half. On 2 March of the following year, I was finally able to step on Hiroshima’s soil once again.

The only concern which I realized later on was the fact that it would be almost impossible to study anaesthesiology deeply in six months, knowing that my first 12 months would be spent on Japanese language curriculums. I asked Professor Michio Morio, Chairman of the Department of Anaesthesiology, to extend my scholarship to two to three years, although it was rare for foreign students to receive technical education in Japan at the time.

The alternative which the professor persistently worked out for me was my enrolment in the school’s doctoral program. Thanks to the warm support of my peers, I was able to pass the test and was accepted with a four-year scholarship. After days and nights of hard work, I completed my doctoral degree in 1981 and returned to my homeland, Makassar, South Sulawesi.
 

“Commonalities between two nations and our wish for next generations”

Dr. Tanra with his children

The Japanese are very unique people whose integrity, discipline, courtesy, cleanliness and diligence all resonated with me. These attributes are still part of me and they have become the core of my life even after my retirement. During my time in Japan, I studied not only my specialties but also a lot of Japanese culture which resembled that of Islam, my religious faith.

After returning from Hiroshima, I started to work as an anaesthesiologist and established the Department of Anaesthesiology at Hasanuddin University’s Faculty of Medicine. To convey the goodness of Japan, I also started running a program in 2005 to give our residents the opportunities to gain experience at Onomichi Hospital in Hiroshima. Coincidentally, the head of the hospital’s relevant department happened to be an important friend of mine from the doctoral-course days. The program continued for eight years.

The number of trainees we sent every three months had totalled 76 by the end of the program. Likewise, we invited many Japanese doctors to Indonesia which resulted in a lot of exchanges between the medical professionals from both countries. As of today, it is my utmost pleasure to see that those former trainees, who went to Japan, have been working at the forefront of Indonesian medical scene. I cannot begin to thank Japan enough for this.
 

“My encounter with AMDA”

At the time of 2004
Sumatra earthquake (Aceh)

I met AMDA President Dr. Shigeru Suganami in 1981 through a mutual acquaintance at Okayama train station. It was right after my graduation from Hiroshima University, and the mutual acquaintance was a member of Asian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) which Dr. Suganami established.

It was at the time in which I was asked to set up AMDA Indonesia, whose humanitarian activities I have taken charge of up until now. At the time of 2004 Sumatra great earthquake, our team entered the Aceh region which was both devastated by the disaster and war-torn due to conflicts over regional autonomy. The complexity of the matter was somewhat resolved thanks to my ancestral relationship with the region’s local tribes which allowed us to organize one of the biggest emergency relief operations in AMDA’s history.
Reciprocating our feelings for Japan, my colleague Prof. Idrus Paturusi and I immediately flew to Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures when the horrendous quake and tsunami hit the nation in 2011. I joined Dr. Suganami to visit the disaster sites, and organized a fundraiser campaign after returning to Indonesia. With young people of my country, we prayed together for Japan’s earliest recovery from the calamity.
 

“The Conferment”

Little did I imagine I would receive such a prestigious prize. It is indeed an honour and I must confess I am still excited and overwhelmed. I consider this to be a gift from the God through the Japanese government. This is because, to the best of my knowledge, recipients of such an award have always been government officials, ambassadors and consul generals.

My relationship with Japan is through friendship, and I have been keeping in touch with many of my Japanese friends to this day. When I told them about the conferment of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, it made everyone happy. However, I mostly owe it to Dr. Suganami and all of my Japanese friends who have supported me along the way as a friend and treated me like a family member. With my profound appreciation to the Japanese government, I earnestly hope that the trust that was nurtured through many years will be bequeathed to the next generations.

I do hope from now on that many more Indonesian students will have a chance to study in Japan, because studying in Japan will let us gain at least three things, namely, knowledge, the Japanese language skills, and good cultural experiences. Finally, I firm believe, through good collaboration, the friendship between two countries will be strengthened and continued in the future.


 
    •  Indonesia
    •  2020

 
 
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