Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the Philippines as an invited faculty for a hernia workshop. The opportunity resulted when one of our trainees - Dr Domingo Sampang- a talented and kind-hearted surgeon who spent a couple of weeks at our centre, recommended my name to Dr. Alfred Allen Beunafe - the President of the Philippines Surgical Society.
Frankly, I was expecting a small training centre attached to a private hospital in Manila. What I saw took me by surprise. There it was - a four storied building with a state-of-the-art animal lab and a cadaveric station. The lecture hall was also well-equipped. So was the rooftop hall overlooking the stunning Manila skyline. I was stunned by the logistics and on enquiring I found that this was the brainchild of Dr Alfred Allen Beunafe (I call him Allen now). He was one of the pioneers in advanced laparoscopic surgery in his region. He had the zeal to spread his knowledge and skills. This led him to start a nationwide tour where he would visit a surgeon in the provinces and teach and train them free of cost. When he joined a premier private hospital in Manila, he ensured that his spirit of imparting training did not end and guaranteed the creation of this state-of-the-art training centre.
I was also amazed at the energy Allen possesses. After a long day of clinical work involving multiple operations and training, he goes home way past midnight and sleeps for only four hours (please don’t try this, I don’t recommend it) and then he is up again. I had asked him over lunch the reason behind his cheerfulness, contentment and happiness. Allen had said, “I love to give what I receive.” And that explained why that man is happier than a lot many despite his mad rush.
He is interested not only in taking knowledge and learning skills but he is also eager to give it away. This way, he has contributed immensely to his community of surgeons who are eager to learn from him. He was full of gratitude for those who taught him. Probably that was what weaved a web of positive energy around him - keeping him and his companions happy and always positive. People like Allen make this world a better place to live in. They know the value of the gift of giving!
— The author is Surgical Gastroenterologist and Director, Digestive Surgery Clinic, Belle Vue, Kolkata.