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Gamal Albinsaid: Man on a Mission

  • Stevie Emilia

    The Jakarta Post

London | Thu, July 3, 2014 | 01:32 pm
Gamal Albinsaid: Man on a Mission (Courtesy of Gamal Albinsaid)" border="0" height="600" width="413">(Courtesy of Gamal Albinsaid)

He has dined with a prince and won many awards, but at home, young doctor Gamal Albinsaid is still known as the “trash” doctor.

His popularity came out of his establishment of Garbage Clinical Insurance, a program that allows the poor to “pay” for medical services with trash.

For Gamal, such popularity comes with huge responsibility and expectation.

“May God bless me in my work,” said the 24-year-old CEO of Indonesia Medika, an organization that adopts social entrepreneurship principles.

The program, which grew out of his concern for the country’s meager health budget, was first introduced in his hometown in Malang, East Java, back in 2010. It currently benefits some 2,000 poor people and has spread to other cities, including Bandung in West Java and Yogyakarta.

“I am planning to set up more,” said Gamal, who just graduated from Brawijaya University’s school of medicine and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in biomedicine.

The program, which offers solutions to two problems — poor healthcare and environment — has put Gamal in the spotlight, both at home and abroad.

He was recently named runner-up in the semi-established category in the fourth edition of the Arthur Guinness Fund and the British Council Indonesia’s Community Entrepreneurs Challenge, an annual competition that begun in 2010.

He was also the winner of the top prize in the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards — the Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur in January this year.

In the competition, which received over 500 entries from 90 countries, he bested six other finalists. The award came with ¤50,000 (US$68,315) grant and a package of individually tailored mentoring from the University of Cambridge’s sustainability leadership program.

“When I was announced as the winner, I just remember wondering, ‘how it could be’?” he said, recalling when he was named winner by Prince Charles during a dinner reception at the Buckingham Palace.

(JP/Stevie Emilia)

(Courtesy of Gamal Albinsaid)

He has dined with a prince and won many awards, but at home, young doctor Gamal Albinsaid is still known as the '€œtrash'€ doctor.

His popularity came out of his establishment of Garbage Clinical Insurance, a program that allows the poor to '€œpay'€ for medical services with trash.

For Gamal, such popularity comes with huge responsibility and expectation.

'€œMay God bless me in my work,'€ said the 24-year-old CEO of Indonesia Medika, an organization that adopts social entrepreneurship principles.

The program, which grew out of his concern for the country'€™s meager health budget, was first introduced in his hometown in Malang, East Java, back in 2010. It currently benefits some 2,000 poor people and has spread to other cities, including Bandung in West Java and Yogyakarta.

'€œI am planning to set up more,'€ said Gamal, who just graduated from Brawijaya University'€™s school of medicine and is currently pursuing a master'€™s degree in biomedicine.

The program, which offers solutions to two problems '€” poor healthcare and environment '€” has put Gamal in the spotlight, both at home and abroad.

He was recently named runner-up in the semi-established category in the fourth edition of the Arthur Guinness Fund and the British Council Indonesia'€™s Community Entrepreneurs Challenge, an annual competition that begun in 2010.

He was also the winner of the top prize in the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards '€” the Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur in January this year.

In the competition, which received over 500 entries from 90 countries, he bested six other finalists. The award came with ¤50,000 (US$68,315) grant and a package of individually tailored mentoring from the University of Cambridge'€™s sustainability leadership program.

'€œWhen I was announced as the winner, I just remember wondering, '€˜how it could be'€™?'€ he said, recalling when he was named winner by Prince Charles during a dinner reception at the Buckingham Palace.

(JP/Stevie Emilia)(JP/Stevie Emilia)
He said he faced stiff competition from the six other finalists. The one from Mexico, he said, was a big company, while another from Nepal had been spearheaded by a US-educated leader.

Gamal said that during the dinner, the prince praised his program as having addressed two problems with a single move.

'€œGod is very kind to me and I am very grateful,'€ he says.

Since then, he has been invited to visit several ministries and became guest on popular television talk shows. He has also received more invitations to take part in various seminars across the country '€” not just in East Java towns as he used to.

'€œNow, I'€™ve been Kalimantan and even Sulawesi,'€ said Gamal while in London for a study tour on social enterprises that was organized by the British Council Indonesia.

Gamal said he was fully aware of the pros and cons that come with such recognition.

The good things are that the program touches more people and may help inspire them, he said.

'€œI'€™m happy to learn there are those who even want to run the program independently. It shows there are many people out there who care [about the poor],'€ said Gamal.

The downside, he said, is that such popularity could create excessive or unrealistic expectations of the program.

'€œI'€™m sure that out there, there are many people who do bigger things compared to what I do,'€ he said. '€œMy principle is to stay sincere because even if you'€™re not, you still have to spend time and energy, so it'€™s best to give your all.'€

He said that many people start something with earnest goodwill, but are not strong enough to maintain principles in the face of adversity. '€œIt takes training to stay sincere,'€ he says.

Apart from sincerity, he believes in the spirit of togetherness and passion, qualities that he attempts to promote in his company.

'€œI keep telling my staff that there are many people who have bright ideas but cannot realize them, and that they are surprised when others make it happen. I think those people do not have enough passion. If they had sufficient passion, they would keep on thinking and pursuing,'€ he said.

'€œAnd when we have an idea but we only pursue it on our own, at some point, when we feel tired, we may stop. With a spirit of togetherness, we can push through those moments.'€

His passion is evident in the way he talks nonstop about his program and his love of books.

Gamal said that reading '€” mostly books on politics, religion and philosophy '€” are at the top of his
to-do list during his spare time since the habit allows his mind to roam free while keeping his heart grounded.

In an instant, he can repeat theories, or sections of books that he finds exciting, but he declines to share the titles or the names of the authors to avoid sounding arrogant.

'€œI believe theories give us the courage to analyze many things, including those things that we don'€™t like,'€ he says.

Since he was little, Gamal, who is the third of four siblings, wanted to become a pediatrician.

His father, he said, wanted to become a doctor too, but unpredictable life turns in high school forced him to work to support his family instead.

'€œNow, whenever we have guests at our home, my father tells them that his son is making his dream
a reality,'€ said Gamal, who spends his mornings drinking coffee and discussing politics with his father, who has retired after a career in the used-car business

His mother, who is in the batik business, is his other loyal supporter. She always prays for him in crucial moments.

'€œWhen I was waiting for the Young Sustainability Entrepreneur competition'€™s result to be announced in England, my mother was praying for me for hours,'€ he says.

With the recognition given to his program, Gamal is living his dream.

'€œAs doctor, we should care,'€ he said. '€œAnd if we do something that we like, it'€™s like playing soccer for a living; we'€™re on vacation for 365 days a year.'€

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