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Dow varsity honours Saving Face surgeon

By Sa’adia Reza

KARACHI: Amid a big round of applause from a packed auditorium, the Dow University of Health Sciences on Thursday presented a lifetime achievement award to Dr Mohammad Ali Jawad of the Oscar-winning documentary, Saving Face.

Dr Jawad is a DUHS graduate of the 1984 batch. The ceremony was held on the university premises.

Much to the enjoyment of audience, mostly students and faculty, Dr Jawad began with a colourful sketch of life at Dow Medical College when he was a student. He recalled the active, yet peaceful discussions on politics, the endless doodh-patti chai, and the “bill that we couldn’t pay”, and then praised the academic standard of the institute.

The plastic, reconstructive and burns surgeon said he was proud to be part of this group. “Dow is very special, very infectious,” he said while addressing the students. “Your connection goes very deep here.” For him, he said, returning to the DUHS was a bigger honour than receiving an Oscar.

Dr Jawad then explained his journey of healing faces and experiences of working with Dr Bari of the Indus Hospital and eventually, while working on the project, he interacted with a group of acid burn patients whom he treated. When the word of his services became public, the director and producer of Saving Face, Daniel Junge, contacted him and hence the work on the documentary began. The documentary, he said, gave them an opportunity to get together and start saving faces of Pakistanis.

In reply to a query, Dr Jawad said it was unfortunate that this male-dominated society usually condemned acid attack victims assuming that it would be their fault and they deserved the torture. Perhaps this was the reason the women victims were more than willing to cooperate when they saw a helping hand, he said.

“But we should remember that acid burn cases are not just occurring in Pakistan,” he said. “They happen all over the world, and Sharmeen (Obaid) and the girls have helped the global community.”

The doctor also advised the future medical practitioners to derive pleasure and satisfaction out of treating patients, and to share their skills in areas where they’re needed most.

Earlier, DMC Principal Dr Junaid Ashraf called the Oscar a ‘landmark’ in the history of Pakistan, and thanked the entire team of Saving Face for bringing the glory to the country.

“Acid face burns is something we read about a lot in the media,” he said. “But the good thing is that the redemption is also coming from the country.” Praising Dr Jawad’s efforts, he said that the doctor had always brought happiness to a lot of people, and now he had done the same for his alma mater.

DUHS vice chancellor Dr Masood Hameed Khan also congratulated Dr Jawad and declared that a tutorial room in the new block of the campus would be named after him.

Dr Jawad’s achievement was a proof that Pakistanis, as a nation, were strong, he said, adding that that all they needed was environment conducive to progress.

The VC counselled his students to remain positive as they were blessed with inspirational figures. He cited the example of the DUHS that began operating in 2004 with a handful of programmes and at present boasted of around 50 academic courses.

“Each one of you can become a Mohammad Ali Jawad,” he concluded.