Inspired changemaker paves the way for future young leaders

Posted: Wed, 7th November 2018 | Written by: The Team at Western Chances

Western Chances alumni Dr Garang Dut has a remarkable story. From childhood poverty to scholarship recipient, to an inspiring community leader. In Garang’s speech at the 2017 Good Business Forum, he expressed how he believed that supporting Western Chances and helping young people to achieve, means investing in a better community.

Inspired changemaker paves the way for future young leaders

Earning his place among the expert medical staff at Alfred Hospital, Dr Garang Dut has come a long way from the refugee camp he grew up in. He’s now a doctor, a surgical registrar and has completed a Master of Public Health from Harvard University pursuing his dream of making a difference in public health. This opportunity was funded by the General Sir John Monash Foundation and the Roth/Segal John Monash Harvard Scholarship. Garang knows more than most, how challenging it is to engage fully in studies while struggling with day to day living resources. Now, he’s giving back, through his medical expertise and in mentoring young people in his new home of Melbourne’s west.

The will to change

Garang experienced more hardship than a child should, spending 12 years in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. But, even from a young age and despite trying circumstances, he felt compelled to improve his environment.

“There were preventable diseases everywhere. There was clear evidence of the impact of poverty and what can happen, not necessarily if you do not have the right resources but also things such as the rule of law, the functioning business that keeps society going, teachers that nurture the young minds to be future leaders when the system is not functioning. And so from my perspective I saw that I want to contribute, to remediate the impact of diseases within the society.”

As a young person growing up in this environment, Garang aspired to become a doctor. However, the nearest medical school in Kenya was in Nairobi, thousands of kilometres away from his refugee camp at the border of South Sudan.

“But after having started my schooling pretty much under trees in open ground, writing in dirt, not enough stationery, I had the determination because I had the will to want to change what was around me.”

Western Chances empowers young people with a dream to work hard to achieve it

Moving to Australia with his family opened up a world of possibilities, but also new challenges. Garang received his first Western Chances scholarship in 2006 when he was in Year 11. This support from Western Chances gave Garang a chance to focus on his studies and he excelled in his VCE at Sunshine College.

“Taking on VCE requires that you have the necessary equipment such as books and calculators to undertake subjects such as Mathematical Methods and Specialist Mathematics and be acquainted with computers. It was Western Chances that gave me a hand up that first time.”

He was recognised as a Kwong Lee Dow Scholar by the University of Melbourne. Even through the long days of classes, plus commuting across the city on weekends to use the university’s software for assignments, he remained committed to his dream, and Western Chances helped cover transport costs.

“With that facilitation of my travelling I was able to do the rest by spending time at the university, studying hard, committing myself and subsequently going on to study medicine at The University of Melbourne.”

Helping young people to achieve: an investment in your community

Garang’s passion for vital work like eliminating preventative diseases fuels his interest in public health.

“I am inspired by the fact that at the end of the day, when I come home [from treating patients at the Alfred Hospital trauma centre], I might have contributed something, to someone, and helped change someone’s life. That was inspired by my environment but made possible by the various people like yourselves who have contributed to the good work that is done by Western Chances.”

In recognition of his talent, Garang was awarded a John Monash Scholarship to continue his endeavours at Harvard University. Garang is greatly inspired by this quote from Sir John Monash:

“Adopt as your fundamental creed that you will equip yourself for life not solely for your own benefit but for the benefit of the whole community.”

“As we all know western Melbourne has a great number of young people that would really benefit from such opportunities and within myself, I challenge myself to do more than be a doctor and I am very engaged with my community, still live out west of Melbourne where I can keep mentoring young people.”

Melbourne’s west is home to many other young people with aspirations to become tomorrow’s community leaders, like doctors, lawyers, business leaders, teachers and public health leaders. They need your continued support.

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