Today you will listen to one of the most incredible stories. So much so that it genuinely sounds as unbelievable as the plot of a Hollywood movie. Such is the journey of my friend and colleague Dr Waheed Arian.
Born and raised in Afghanistan, Waheed’s childhood was spent fleeing from conflict. As early as the age of 5, he and his family fled their hometown in Kabul for the refugee camps of Pakistan taking the treacherous journey through the harsh terrain whilst dodging bombs and the Taliban. Once reaching the camps his family had to battle malaria, TB without proper access to medicine and healthcare.
Littered with these experiences and genuinely fearing for his life. Waheed managed to escape Afghanistan leaving his family in Kabul at the age of 15 before he would have been conscripted by the Taliban to fight. He managed to find safety in the UK. He started work in multiple low wage jobs in the London area, sending his earnings back to support his family in the war zones. He decided to formally learn english, complete his A and AS levels. Applied to medicine and through sheer determination managed to achieve a place at Cambridge. He completed his clinical work at Imperial, which is where myself and Waheed crossed paths in the same year group. He did an elective at Harvard.
If none of this was impressive enough Waheed went on to start radiology training and founded his pioneering charity “Arian Teleheal” that works directly with clinicians on the ground, and provides governments and global organizations with a blueprint for delivering innovative healthcare and education. Through a network of volunteers in the UK, doctors across Afghanistan have access to highly skilled and trained clinicians via encrypted social media platforms.
Dr Arian has been recognized as a UNESCO Global Hope Hero, a UN Global Goals Goalkeeper, and was appointed to the WHO Roster of Digital Health Experts in 2019. In the UK, he has been awarded the Rotary International Peace Award and the prime minister’s Points of Light Award.
We talk about a number of things today, largely centred around Waheed’s story. How the seed of ambition was planted by a doctor that treated him for TB when he was 6 and how refugees are important and why it is critical to fight for their rights.
You can read the full incredible story in Waheed’s new book – In The Wars (linked here) – which has just recently been released – what a fascinating journey of ambition and sheer determination to succeed.