Dr Waheed Arian is a radiologist who set up a charity called Arian Teleheal in 2015. The charity enables volunteer doctors in the west to advise colleagues in conflict zones using smartphone technology. The charity has helped save many lives in countries including Syria, Uganda and Afghanistan where Waheed was born. In 1988, at the height of the Soviet-Afghan conflict, Waheed and his family fled Kabul for Pakistan where they lived in a refugee camp for the next few years. Waheed was just five when they arrived there and contracted tuberculosis. The doctor who saved his life planted a dream and Waheed decided that one day he would study medicine. When he was 15 Afghanistan was in the grip of the Taliban and Waheed and his parents knew it was only a matter of time before he would be recruited to join their fight. Waheed's family found someone who, for a fee, offered to help him leave the country and claim refugee status in the UK. He arrived in the UK in 1999, studied A levels while working in a number of jobs and then in 2003 took up a place to read medicine at Cambridge University. In 2014 he began training as a radiologist and currently works in the A&E department at a busy NHS hospital. In 2017 he won a UN Global Hero Award for his charity work. DISC ONE: Lose Yourself by Eminem DISC TWO: Gule Sori by Farhad Darya DISC THREE: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor DISC FOUR: Never Enough by Loren Allred DISC FIVE: Home by Michael Bublé DISC SIX: Fly by Celine Dion DISC SEVEN: Are You Ready for Love by Elton John DISC EIGHT: Everything I Wanted by Billie Eilish BOOK CHOICE: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba LUXURY ITEM: Pen and paper CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Fly by Celine Dion Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Paula McGinley
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Pvc sounds music, radio broadcasts, hallo unlearned event, and this is the desert island discs podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island and for rights. We since the music is shorter than the original broadcast, I hope you enjoy listening. I, my castaway this week. is the radiologist and humanitarian. Dr Waheed Irian he's a pioneer and tell him edison, where volunteer
headaches around the world, use every day mobile phone technology to advise doctors working on the ground, thousands of miles away its many lives in war zones and remote communities in countries looting, syria, uganda and afghanistan where Wahid was born. He founded the chair. The area and tele heal in twenty fifteen and one a u and global hero award two years later, all of which is remarkable, though, given his back story, it's nothing short of miraculous when he was just five, his family. Forced to flee their home in kabul during the soviet afghan conflict narrowly, skipping the bombing raids that followed them to pakistan arriving as few jeez. They were struck by malaria and malnutrition and he almost died of tuberculosis. The doktor who saved his life was impressed by his curiosity and giving him the stethoscope and a textbook so planted a dream six year old, what he'd decided that he too would become a doctor. The ambition to,
him from a refugee camp, in peshawar, to cambridge university and beyond. He says in the uk the opportunities to achieve my potential and to give back to my family, my adopted country and my homeland were within my grasp and I was determined to seize them with both hands doctor. What he'd welcome to desert island discs. Thank you so much for having me it's such a privilege to be here today. Let's start with your dream, actually you have to
Dreams growing up, didn't you to become a doctor, but also to live a normal, peaceful family life and you ve happily achieved in both. He live in chest out with your wife to vienna and you're you're too young children, I'm imagining that you never take that normality for granted, or I never take up mammography for granted. In a way I am reading my childhood, the lost childhood through my children. None I managing to go home, said their watch. My children play a play that I never had the opportunity. So those are the small things I don't take for granted. You once said the straight road doesn't work for me. Why not? I think it's it's my experience,
going through conflict through displacement that making any decision could be life and death and sitting around with parents to decide what we have to do the next day or the age of seven or eight, and even at the age of five. My father said one thing to me that if anything had happened to him that I would be looking at, the family, that's age, five, an end from then onwards. I lost my childhood in a way that I became, in other words, and I had to think on my feet. While the heat we ve got a lot to talk about with you got your discs to share and tell me about your fest were the first desk. I'd like to is lose yourself by Eminem. I got any these two eminem. When I arrived in the uk, I have no clue about music as western music and I didn't
am I was studying it sent a levels. Might avail college in london I used to see these teenage has walking. with their funds on, and they were doing all these days sing and rotting, and all that I was like what on earth is that and when I listened to the track and it really resonated with me, you only get one shot, don't miss your chance, but I thought that was something
me he's probably some middle men began. You invent a moment if you think that Mr Santer, an end and lose yourself so a heat irian. You were born in kabul in nineteen. Eighty treves, the height of the soviet afghan war- and you are one of the law. And surviving children to your parents touch mohammed and baby a mina. What do you remember when you think back to that time being taken by my mother to a local park to have an ice cream?
so good memory, it was a good memory I, and in that park there was a slight. It was a concrete soviet belt bag sliding, but he was absolutely amazing for me to be able to let loose with my cousins. We wouldn't get that opportunity very often a lot of the time we had to hide in cellars or inside the house, because it was the father was in hiding, so your father, he should say he was, was in hiding because all men were conscripted at a point expected to fight and- and he was a a conscientious objector I'll. I want to ask about him and in a moment, but I want to know a little bit more about your mom, if described, terrorism superwoman why she is- and I still remember our hearts- beating against each other consent
Is when the rockets would come and rain on us and late night, she would be tying head tight because she would be having such a bad headache, and I knew that she hadn't slept for days, but she couldn't afford to sleep because she wanted to know how the children are doing if any one has temperature, if for they, they're fed well and then be alert to what's going on from the outside,
well. Do we have to pack again do we have to move so where he do you've said that your mum was the pragmatist. Your dad was the idealist. Tell me a little bit more about him. He was he hadn't quite successful job. You know before that the conflict really took over Kabul he had to. He was selling currency at Afghanistan's largest money exchange market. I think growing up, he didn't go to school, and so he lost his mum aged four and he had a very tough childhood himself, but he also had this side to him that this slighted he was teaching us how to be resilient late at night. He will be telling me these stories of how muhammad Ali
It was fighting your fraser and you would be going round after round, but he would always get up and he wouldn't lose, and for me that was would give me a buzz now, I'm reflecting on it now that wow, he was actually telling us that in life you can't give up where he did time to go to the music. Your second choice today, what is it and why are you taking it with you to the desert island? The second choice is a song by one of the most famous afghan singers for hot diarrhea, it's called ghoulish sooty, the other half is coolly sooty, which means good bye, my flower. It was recorded in two thousand, but it reflects the time we went through and in the nineties, mainly during the civil war. The losses the traumas saying goodbyes to each other, and when I came to the uk, I used to listen to the song and reflect on what had happened: the ugh subzero jungle,
it does. Does my sudoku that if this man goulash glacier by far Darya why he darien your parents eventually made the decision to get the whole family out of afghanistan and head for pakistan. You a barely five at that point. The border was closed. So forced to make a very dangerous journey across the mountains. What do you remember about that crossing you? How to do it at my time and we have to do it on donkey
and the horses, but he was the same route that was used by the in the rebels to bring in weapons to fight, so anybody that was spotted along this path, this of it helicopter gunship and the jets would attack them destroy them. One morning we arrived and it was a bit too light and we were visible. My father went with a few men to locate a house for us to sleep, so I came with my father. We were traveling about seven minutes or eight minutes and then suddenly out of nowhere. My father just grabbed me And he run towards the village. We had been spotted, biased, biplane, that my father knew what was coming next, so he was running and he was trying two open one do knock one another do until he found one how's that was empty? He,
and often on the floor, which is used for baking in afghanistan, and that is a very large of nuts and services. Two of the house writes a warms the house as well. Does he doesn't deserve it? It's in one central place on the ground level on the ground. He took me with him so you're, hiding inside this oven we hiding inside of the oven. He towered me completely covered me. Then the bombing started bullets flying rockets hitting the wall that was screaming between me and my dad and after it's finished, we went back to to the area where my siblings wind at my mother, because we didn't know whether they would be alive pigs. So he tease him, but they were alive and nothing. This is something that people in conflict zones that's how they lose loved ones,
Wait it took about a week before you all arrived at the bamboo refugee camp, what with conditions but he found there. We were given one tenth and we have to find a way to live in that few mattresses or something for us just put on the floor But we didn't even have access to clean water, nothing when people think of refugee camps or when they say they are unsafe places. Yes, there safe from bombs, but physical, mental and social do not safe and cookies are absolutely ripe. Conditions for diseases, like area and everything else an end, then you contracted tb. While you at the camp so see your father managed to somehow get you to see a specialist in
push our and you would go for treatment with him once a month. So this is the man referred to in my introduction of he. He managed to save your life against the odds rate. I think he gave you a thirty percent chance of survival that at the beginning, he saved your life, but he also changed. It. Tell me about the the guy that he gave you that text book in the stethoscope? I remember the room, he had air com, but we never had the feeling of fat at the white. Could he had that depends he had I still remember them vividly your life and our absolute lee. I the white background that he used for seeing x rays as well, and I lost him, keep an x ray
if you put my experience, do you have another one you'd put another one I said: would you see there? He would quiz me there and I would answer his questions, but for me he was this healing figure and I wanted to be like him it's time for your next disc. Where he's, what are we going to hear eye of the tiger? It's the soundtrack to rocky movie whenever we used to go and visit this doctor in hybrid bother, my treat would be that my father would take me to cinema, and usually I was into action movies. Even the lyrics, the rising up back on the streets went the distance now back on my feet, just a man and his will to survive. That is something that kept me going
the survivor and eye of the tiger. So what he'd aryan you spent three years in the refugee camp you ve covered from tb and kept the medical textbook by your side. All that time so taught me through
the learning process, how did you learn the english that you needed to start to study it properly? The textbook was a precious gift, but also a toy for me. I had to flip through the pictures day in and out another way for me to be entertained was my father would buy the syringes from a pharmacy, and you asked me if I wanted to play doctor and patient with his, though he knew that you wanted to be adopted by this point on this, because I was so curious about medicine. He would allow me to inject bald water into his arm. He appeared at my port at an amateur
and I would not allow my child to take that syringe anywhere close to me, but his arm will turn blue and black because of course I didn't know what on earth I was doing, but then, after about one and a half year of treatment, when I became better, I was enrolled in a local school, but he was too muddy rooms next to each other. We had to sit on the floor that was the first time I got taste of the proper education. While he did ninety ninety one, you are able to return to kabul, but following the rise of the taliban in the mid nineties, your parents decided it was no longer safe for you to stay there, so they decided to send you to another refugee camp in pakistan. At now, this camp had set up their own university and I think it was there that you enrolled to study Listen, you would just twelve, how did you hold your own with your fellow students? They must have been much older. I will try to make my voice really horsemen. I would
and outside that I'm a grown up. There was another important point that, as a child navigating the camp, I used to think I used, look like an additive behave. I mean this behaviour gladly huddled as well to survive, but that's how childhood, not for myself alone. For so many children is lost, worried but it takes in time for the music it's number for today, but we got in next, and why have you chosen it never enough, but Lauren I'll read from the greatest showman. This is sir asunder resonated with me in the year two thousand, the seventeen I got to appoint.
that I had a loving family and in a way, if you can call it the achievement that I I had done enough to prove to myself that I was worthy of life, that I could just relax work in the nhs see my child grow and and have a happy life, but it wasn't enough for me on a reflected back on a journey when I was in a refugee coming on, I saw this young girl in two thousand and fifteen. When I looked into her eyes, my own childhood reflected back to me and that's the moment. I realized that but actually reach out to so many children across the globe, and that became my purpose, the song that b
no the never enough lorn over it from the greatest children. So he therein during the next few years. The healthcare system in Afghanistan had collapsed as more and more people left the country, and you start to feel that You're only option- was to leave to go to the west and build a career and support your family. There, too,
So you were hooked up with someone who described themselves as a travel agent. He said, oh yes, I can help you get refugee status and and you'll be welcomed in the uk. That was what you told me told me that, yes, we would get you a refugee visa, but it will cost you ten thousand dollars and you have to provide all that amount up front. I was talked with another to afghan refugees as well to offers work somewhere similar age. Another one was older. When we talk about the roots of leaving conflict zones, legal versus illegal. The reality is very different. There are no embassies in conflict zones, you don't have an online system, so my parents had to make that decision aged fifteen and nineteen nineteen on and they made a decision and they agreed finally that they would let go of me and I- Good reason as well that my life was coming to risk. I was coming to an age when I was becoming available to save the taliban,
as one of the soldiers and I knew that the time wouldn't be too distant when they ask me new paths. Certain asia is well. They must have been very today. There were worried, but we didn't couldn't find a solution, so those former routes were not available, but when the plane landed at heathrow It became immediately clear that that actually the story, been told, listen does not gonna be how it played out there with police cars waiting for you on the tarmac. Why, With either the instructions weather soon as you land and he threw you would get rid of your passports. And then you told the police that you afghan refugees are. They would take you. But what the eldest didn't followed instruction on the plane. He did something very stupid. He went to the toilet, to bananas,
sport and then the other one went. He burned his passport on the plane as well. So I had to go to add the toilet. Follow the majority. At that point there was enough smoke from the other to the alarm went off my heart, absolutely sang. I didn't know what I was doing. I thought. Oh, my goodness, sir. I have blown everything now so that explains the police cars waiting for you on the tarmac. They didn't send you home straight away. They actually sent you to feltham prison for young offenders. You ended up staying there for two weeks. I mean what was going through your head. I had heard that if my feet touched british soil, I wouldn't be sent back. So I was relieved I thought, oh, my goodness, I'm not going back
in this plane that have touched the british soil. Hey prevent that. Put me at an in a van, I said: oh, that's, okay, I'm an oven, and then they took me to police station and the bad news was given to me by one of their solicitors, and he told me that most likely that they will keep you in prison for a year and a half and after that you'll be deported because you've committed a crime, and that was extremely dark time for me, because I knew that there was no way for me to get in touch with my mother to tell her that I'm safe.
Couldn't tell her that your son have landed, but he is actually not safe, we'll find out where, like turkey laughed at this next desk wahid. It's your fifth choice today. What is it home by Michael public? This was a song that I was listening to one of the cambridge university. I saw that other students had family members who would visit. I didn't have anybody, so I would lock myself in that room. Most of the time. I realise that I was actually very damage child I had to grief for their childhood and I think this is a song that that help be grief. Summer day has come in paris, I
may be surrounded by million people by the feel whom, by Michael P, blake. But he Darien, you were released from felt them on bail and eventually the charges against you were dropped. What you remember about your first night of freedom in the uk, it is magical for me to be out on the streets for the first time to see clean. Things to look into the sky. The rain was dropping. I couldn't sleep the entire night, but I was in a hurry, and I knew that these opportunities can be taken away from me any moment I could be sent back. You definitely worth in a hurry what he did during the next few years, he worked in a gift shop and a greengrocers among other jobs. He also studied for your a levels in your spare time. Then, as you say, you got into cambridge where he studied medicine. How did you,
justice student life that first full. I couldn't believe that I was there cause, I didn't know so much about the reputation first to start with, and then, when I started searching about it, and somebody told me who I've met through one of the bitch gas jobs that I was doing and he said oh have you heard about cambridge university. I said yes, but it's not. For me- and he said well, you've got the a's. You should apply. So I went to one of my it is at one of the colleges, and he immediately put me off. He said: you're, not white, your refugee, we don't even know you school background to don't waste. One of your place is don't apply. I was furious without and I came out. I was crying under, but an hour stomping up and down and kings cross, but but I was determined acid if russian bombs didn't kill me became. It is not going to kill me. So I went the opposite way. I really they came and determined we're. Gonna take
movement for some music now, where heat. What's the next choice, it's fly by celine dion, because later on, when I came back to london to complete my clinical associate at imperial college, I was getting closer to my to become a doctor, but I was losing touch with my identity. I didn't know what I was british. I was afghan and I had was doing so much for the family that I came to a point that I run out of adrenalin, and that was my breakdown point and at that point it was so doktor schecter hues
my teach at imperial college and for the first time in my life I opened up. I said I just can't do this anymore. I was so damn broken deep down that I couldn't keep running anymore and he gave me a hug and he said where he'd listened. You've got a long life in front of you. you really have to look after yourself. So that's the first time when I started to be kind to myself and to let go do it always
wait. fly by silly, indian but he Darien he graduated from cambridge in two thousand and six andy staff training as radiologist. Several years later, you set up your charity and tell him but ass. We ve heard your mental health was suffering what will you do with? I was becoming quite over reactive and divinity I've noticed it. I was on the edge of my friends. They were checking me as well, but I knew I had to seek help on as the first time. I am disclosing that that I had to get up and go to a clinical psychologist and tell them later on work
on the front line in the nhs. As an eighty doctor radiologist, I found more allowing because I knew that my skills were being used. I could see that I could give to patients the smile on their face. Even now, despite being very busy nanny. I pull out a chair. I sit down with my patient and I have a good chat for five minutes. I hold the hands and asked them how the feeling of the family members be. A guy can see the worry on their faces as well, but that's the magical moment for me that reminds me of why I picked up a stethoscope hate the idea behind tell he'll is that volunteer medics in the west can beyond the line advising doctors in war zones and in countries with poor resources using smartphones, one of the charities first, patients outside Afghanistan was attacked
It will go in syria? How are you able to help her? She was diabetic this young girl. He was comatose, and I knew immediately that this is an emergency case, so they didn't know what to do next. I connected them to one or for pediatric specialists and he responded within minutes. He knew it was an emergency, as will he gave step by step instructions of how to manage that emergency. What fluids to give what medication to give and the next morning, I saw a picture in a video of that girl walking. That was something very special for me: immediate motivation, a proof of concept
that this thing is working thousands of miles away. A life has been saved it's time for your seventh choice for heat. What are we going to hear next? This is sir a song by sir Elton John. Are you ready for love a song when, finally, after my breakdown in two thousand and nine, and getting out of that and trying to learn to be kind to myself, I was ready to find somebody. I was ready to find a life partner who I could confined and who could help me talk about my life, and I found my wife
and that is the sun time dedicating to demeanour and john, and are you ready for love your wife to vienna, doktor Wahid area, and so why heed the politics of the current refugee crisis do divide opinion? What would you say
to people who are concerned about the numbers of people trying to come to the west. I would simply ask people to think of people who are fleeing conflict persecution or, for other reasons, as human beings. Of course, we have to protect borders. We have to also make sure that criminal gangs are not on operational as well, but blaming refugees, blaming people- flood conflict and trying to politicized them or weapon eyes them. I think that's inhumane wonder about your feeling: Send and your experience in a rift spent a long time reflecting on life growing up. on home and and also talking about afghanistan. Now, when you think about the country, what
if you miss about her- and what do you hope for its future of kyrgyzstan has sadly been forgotten, though it's it's extremely heartbreaking for me to see the people suffer, we can do better as as as humanity that if we can only manage to reach out to those people- and I miss a daily- but I would love to go back and sit with my relatives on a carpet to be able to eat with them together people to smile with them together to have tea chai. I want to explore. I want to just go and sit near a river and let the water just touch my feet, but now they need help and for the world to come together. Put the politics to one side and to reach out to the people I hate it almost time. I'm gonna cost you away. You shown yourself, of course, to be incredibly resourceful, rosalie,
strong someone who can build a new life from scratch? D, many concerns about being on the desert island. Have you picture it in your minds? I, when you think about it. I was thinking about this but I was accosted we all my life actually sit for me. You know what I might go on: relax for once. Actually, I'm looking for what I'm looking forward to you haven't finally a moment to put your feet up, I'm excited for you, one more disc before we send you away, though, where he'd? What's it going to be it's everything I wanted by a bleak irish, sam, a song that makes me think what's happened. It's my own life is repeating itself in front of me. Although I am better equip now. I have loved one around me. I have friends and I have the compassion and I am getting mental health support myself, but for me so it is a
I dream that I'm waking up from billie, eilish and everything I wanted so where he had aryan. I'm going to send you away to your desert island, I'm giving you the koran, the complete works of shakespeare, and you can take one of the book. What's that going to be Why? Who harnessed the wind it sir book by a fourteen year old, who.
Was in malawi. He couldn't afford to go to school. He had dropped out while I was going through a famine and hiv in, didn't: have a severe drought and didn't have water for the crop, so we had to figure out a way to help. It all starts with one remark: true story. That book is yours. You cannot have a luxury item where he'd. What are you going to go for? Please tell me you're going to treat yourself is supposed to be getting better at this self care business. I will be taking up and and paper actually, ah, when Was there a cast away and enduring conflict that I will go into outside the house on my own, I would find pennant paper and I would draw Oh I'm not good at drawing, but I would draw an imaginary house, an imaginary school, imaginary friends.
and that would give me ass a moment of solace whether it was for a few hours that was finding hope, give gladly and finally, which one track of the aid that you ve shared with us today. Would you saved from the waves were heat? It will be lie bison, indian, to comfort the lost myself for the last childhood, but also to reflect on the good things and what I am capable of. Doktor wahid arian. Thank you very much for sharing your desert island discs with us. Thank you so much laurent for having me the hallo, opium
a conversation with Wahid and I'm sure he'll put not pennant paper to good use on the island. If castaway many medics in the past, including did not professor day melissa, nay county anew and professor avril mansfield he could find these episodes in a desert discs programme archive and three bbc sends the studio manager for today's programme. Was Michael melhem, the assistant pretty it was Christine Pavlovsk II and the producer was pull making next time. My guest will be the rugby player Kevin's infield. I do hope you join us. Hello. This is marian keys, and this is terrifying and we're here to remind you that our podcast know you're asking is back for a new series. Each We take real listeners questions about life, love, luxury cats, dogs, dentists, anything really and apply are worthy wisdom in a way which we hope will help, but also, hopefully, entertain, join us. Why don't you search?
now you're asking on bbc radio for now available bbc sounds
Transcript generated on 2023-02-18.