NCKU Alumnus Dr. Paul Bosawai Popora Opens First Standard Clinic in the Solomon Islands
成大醫學系校友波波拉索羅門群島,圓醫療志業夢服務社區
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        Located 5,000 kilometers away from Taiwan, the Solomon Islands is one of Taiwan’s few diplomatic allies. The 35-year-long exclusive friendship between both island nations is embodied in Dr. Paul Bosawai Popora, a graduate of National Cheng Kung University’s (NCKU) College of Medicine. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in July 2014, Popora returned to his home in the Solomon Islands to serve as the country’s sole professionally trained doctor. In 2017, Popora took the first step towards realizing his dream vocation by starting his own clinical practice.

        Dr. Popora’s clinic is located on Guadalcanal, the principal island of the Solomon, and is the first standard medical building in the country. The building was built by civil engineering high school students who, under the guidance of Dr. Popora and the assistance of textbooks on architectural design, completed the construction within two years. Dr. Popora hopes that one day he can build a hospital replete with various medical departments, including emergency rooms, general surgery, gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics. It is hope that these resources would benefit the community by improving the quality of medical treatment. Dr. Popora’s hopes and aspirations for the betterment of his community all started with his study at National Cheng Kung University.

        The path to success is strewn with obstacles: “The only thing you must not do is give up!”

        In 2004, Popora received a scholarship from the Taiwanese government and arrived in Taiwan to begin his studies, which required that he first learn Mandarin Chinese. Initially, the language was completely alien to him. Coupled with an intense case of homesickness, Popora wanted to return home immediately. However, after struggling through eight difficult months, he was ultimately admitted into National Cheng Kung University’s College of Medicine in 2005. His first year was a trying one. The issues he had in his classes were mounting. He was ready to throw in the towel, and wrote to the college dean Ruey-Jen Sung: “I give up. I want to go home.”

        Dean Sung immediately called Popora in to talk to him face to face to try to dissuade him from leaving: “The only thing you must not do is give up!”. With dean’s encouragement, Popora was able to adjust his mindset. Setting his eyes on his goal of becoming a doctor, Popora forged ahead and faced all sorts of challenges head-on.

        During his internship at NCKU Hospital, Popora became determined to reach his goal:

        “When I was working at NCKU Hospital, I witnessed many doctors, nurses, and volunteers’ selfless efforts and contributions. I knew I had to bring this medical technology back to my country.” Initially, patients were unaccustomed to his skin color and accented Chinese, but they were moved after witnessing Popora’s diligence and commitment. Popora left a deep impression on Ming-Fei Liu, a physician in the hospital’s department of internal medicine: “Popora was always open to engaging in discussions with others and learning from those exchanges. Moreover, the medical records he recorded were detailed and substantial. He was also kind towards his patients and received praise from all around.”

        Moved by the acts of selflessness within the NCKU Hospital, Popora sets his heart on becoming a doctor

        In July 2014, Popora received his bachelor’s degree from NCKU’s College of Medicine. In the following month, Dr. Popora returned to his country to work at a clinic at GPPOL, the company that sponsored his studies in Taiwan. At GPPOL’s clinic, he treated 2,500 patients free of charge on a monthly basis. Due to the grossly underdeveloped healthcare industry in the Solomon Islands, Dr. Popora was the island’s sole physician, so he had to see patients across all departments in the clinic. This was reminiscent of his internship days in the NCKU Hospital. Nevertheless, Dr. Popora was spurred by his experiences working at the NCKU Hospital and began promoting a volunteer program that centered on bettering the community through community development, healthcare, and education.

        In order to stimulate community development, Dr. Popora pushed for a community revenue plan where 10% of the revenue would go into a community improvement fund. He donated half of his salary into to fund a village development project of improving the community’s water source. Dr. Popora continued to offer his medical services at the Good Samaritan Hospital which had no physician. In addition, he would go to the Ghaobata Community Elementary School every Sunday to teach mathematics to the students there, hoping that these efforts would help students continue their studies.

        Four years after returning home, Dr. Popora maintains close contact with his NCKU teachers and classmates. He says that he has never once forgotten about his experiences in Taiwan, and is immensely grateful to his professors, advisors, and the workers at the NCKU Hospital. Dr. Popora hopes that he can one day return to his alma mater and continue his studies in external medicine. “You must remember that I am also an NCKU ambassador in the Solomon Islands.”

        距離台灣 5000 多公里,位於澳洲東北方的索羅門群島,是台灣少數邦交國之一,兩個島國建交35年的特殊情誼,也在成功大學留下美好的印記。2014 年 7 月,來自索羅門的波波拉(Paul Bosawai Popora)從成大獲得醫學學位,隨即返回家鄉成為當地唯一的醫生。2017 年波波拉醫師在家鄉建造了自己的診所,為他的醫療志業夢邁出重大一步。

        高中畢業的波波拉,2004 年飄洋過海到達台灣,進入成功大學醫學系就讀,展開他 10 年間波折不斷的求學生涯。返鄉後,波波拉醫師每個月義務免費看診 2500 人次,他將台灣視為他第二個故鄉,同時感念成大讓他實現幫助當地民眾的醫療志願,自稱「將永遠是成大在索羅門群島的大使」。

        醫生開設自己的診所看似稀鬆平常,但在索羅門群島偏遠的瓜達康納爾島,波波拉的診所是當地第一棟正規醫療建築,而這還是波波拉自己參考建築教科書、畫設計圖、購買建材,讓學木工的高中生花了兩年時間蓋好的。 這非凡的成就讓波波拉的同學現任東海大學助理教授的 Timothy McBush Hiele 忍不住特地傳訊向成大校長蘇慧貞報喜。波波拉的最終夢想是建造一家更大更專業的醫院,希望設有診療室、外科、婦產科、兒科、急診室及5間病房,提供給家鄉地區居民良好的醫療品質。這個醫療志業夢起源於成大。

        求學生涯波折不斷 「你唯一要做的事,就是不要放棄!」

        2003年波波拉曾因政府獎學金於巴布亞紐幾內亞修讀醫學,但一年不到就沒了經費被迫輟學,第二年波波拉幸運地獲得台灣政府提供的獎學金,於是飛到台灣繼續學業。第一次出國的波波拉,在新加坡轉機時目瞪口呆地看著高樓大廈,搭飛機時,心裡一直認為自己搭的是「空中火車」,想到火車竟然能夠在空中行走還能精確地被操控到某個地方,讓他驚嚇不已。

        但更大的衝擊還在後頭,波波拉被要求先學習中文,對他來說完全是天書,加上嚴重的思鄉病,幾乎馬上想回家,但為了未來的學業挑戰,終於撐過8個月的努力。緊接而來的是更艱巨的挑戰,2005 年波波拉錄取成大醫學系,第一年就吃盡苦頭,再怎麼努力,學業上還是有太多的疑惑難解。某天他真的覺得自己撐不下去了,心灰意冷之餘,寫信給當時的宋瑞珍院長說:「我想放棄回鄉去!」

        宋瑞珍院長當時立刻打電話給波波拉找他面談,用堅定的語氣告訴他:「你在這裡唯一要做的一件事,就是不要放棄!」受到院長鼓舞,波波拉重新調整心情,堅強迎接各種挑戰,日復一日,也正因為院長的一席話,原本想要成為工程師的波波拉努力朝向成為醫生的路邁進。

        但挫折又再次襲來,大四那年,他的台灣獎學金提供到期了,面臨輟學的波波拉難過地打電話通知遠在家鄉的哥哥,因為沒錢不能再唸書,即將返家。但天無絕人之路,正在宿舍收拾行李的波波拉接到索羅門大使致電,詢問他學習狀況,再次幫他爭取到兩年獎學金繼續學業,在學最後1年,波波拉又想辦法找贊助者,索羅門的GPPOL棕櫚油公司以他畢業後任職公司診所為條件答應贊助,波波拉總算能夠安心完成學業。

        在醫院實習階段,波波拉奠定了成為醫師的畢生志願,「當時在成大醫院我看到許多醫師、護理人員及志工無私的付出與奉獻,我更堅定要把醫術帶回故鄉的想法。」其實一開始,病人對於膚色黝黑、中文腔調特別的波波拉不太習慣,但後來都被他認真又負責的態度所感動。成大醫院內科醫師劉明輝印象深刻,「波波拉樂於和大家討論並且從中學習,病歷紀錄做得很詳實,對病人很親切,頗受好評。」

        奠定醫師畢生志願 成大醫院無私付出與奉獻感動了他

        2014年7月,波波拉取得成功大學醫學學位,8月份便返回家鄉在GPPOL公司的診所工作。當時,要離開生活了10年的台灣,對波波拉來說並不是件容易的事,他說自己當時很捨不得離開,因為在台灣、在成大,學習到很多,也獲得很多,而且擁有很多朋友,台灣是他的第二個故鄉。

        所羅門醫療落後,GPPOL 公司的診所提供當地民眾免費醫療 而波波拉是唯一的醫生,什麼科都要看,與在成大醫院實習相比,有過之而猶不及,每個月平均看診2500人。因為在成大醫院深受感動,看診之餘,波波拉也在家鄉號召並推動志工服務工作,以社區發展、醫療及教育等模式幫助及服務家鄉社區民眾。 在社區發展方面,波波拉推動社區營收計畫,計畫所得的 10% 捐入社區基金,他自己個人則捐出一半薪水當作資金,透過鄉村發展計畫,完成水源改善;醫療志工方面,當另一家 Good Samaritan 醫院沒有醫生時,他就義務免費幫忙看診;而教育志工方面,他每周日都在 Ghaobata 社區中學免費教授數學,幫助學生順利升上高中。

        將在成大醫學院所學的均化為志工服務的養份,波波拉一人身兼多職,除了擔任 GPPOL 健康部門主任之外,包括 GPPOL 瓜達爾卡納爾島工會主席、鄉村發展計畫志工、Ghaobata社區中學數理志工老師、Komubety 及 Sape 社區營收計畫與發展顧問、瓜達爾卡納爾島省 Thimbo 部落 Luvumatanighabu 主席、Good Samaritan 醫院醫生志工以及 Sape 醫療中心主任,都是義務幫忙。

        從成大醫學系畢業回到家鄉所羅門群島已近 4 年,波波拉仍然和許多成大的教授、同學們保持密切聯繫,曾任醫學院院長的林其和教授表示,波波拉求學期間,挑戰很多,但他始終以無比毅力去克服難關,所以回到家鄉有這麼出眾的表現是意料之中,「也許有朝一日有機會成為所羅門群的衛生部長,為更多人謀福利。」雖然在離台灣遙遠故鄉努力看診和做志工,但波波拉說,他從沒忘記在台灣的一切,也非常感謝教授和導師們,以及成大醫院醫療訓練的工作人員,有朝一日他希望能夠有機會再回到母校進修外科醫療,「別忘了我會一直是成大在索羅門群島的大使。」