The Art of Letting Go

"If you're brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello." 
~ Paulo Coelho ~

It was Monday afternoon around 2 pm, probably 40 degrees outside of the car. I was sitting at the back seat of standard MSF car waiting for my flight back to Juba to land. African music playing on the radio somehow made my leg started to shake following the beat of the music. I was sweating profusely and just wanted to board the aircraft ASAP so I could get some cool air.

I was ending my second mission in Bentiu PoC with mixed feelings. So many pending issues, unfinished business, unresolved matters with no one to hand over to directly. My replacement would only arrive at the end of the week at the capital and then the week after to the project.

Most of people working for MSF will experience a mission in South Sudan at least once. It's my third consecutive mission in South Sudan. Four missions in total. For the past 18 months I have spent half of it in South Sudan.

So, it's not really surprising that I got attached quite close to this mission. And even though I really want to experience mission in another country on a different continent, in the back of my mind I somehow long for returning to South Sudan.

But you don't always get what you want.

And that's why I have to learn to let go.

Lesson number one on the art of letting go is to realize that LIFE GOES ON.

I have to accept that I have to end my mission and leave the project. People come and go but the project is still running as usual. There's glitch every now and then of course. But patients are still being admitted to the hospital, clinical officers and doctors still conduct the ward round every day, surgeries are still being done, babies are still delivered.

Just because I end my mission it doesn't mean that the project stops to exist.

That reality coexists with the reality I'm living now: going back to my wife and son and working back at a hospital at home.

Lesson number two on the art of letting go is to realize that we are all replaceable. Dispensable.

There will always be another clinical lead, another medical doctor, another nurse, another someone that will and can take your position and continue where you left off. So don't ever think that the hospital will fall apart after you leave the project or everything that you've done will crumble into pieces. The project has been there before you came and will still be there long after you leave. This is also true when you refuse to take your much deserved R&R or holiday because you're too afraid to let the hospital runs by itself or by the rest of the team.

I believe that by realizing and accepting that, it would be easier to let go everything that you have lived for/with the past few months and move on with your life--wherever it may lead you.


  1. Well, gw gak akan seberani lw sih kayaknya, Dok... :D

  2. Long time no see, Mate. Where will be your next duty station? It is pity that the stories like this is not shared by many people because it is a path less traveled. What you do is noble and I bet not many doctors are dare to come to conflict and post-conflict area. It takes courage and a little craziness to do that. Well, some of us are born to take risks, right? Good luck for your next post

    1. Long time no see, Daeng. My next duty station is unknown. I'm staying at home at the moment.
      It is the reason why this blog exist in the first place: to document what I've gone through in my life, if it turns out to be something that needs to be shared then I'm glad I am doing this.
      Indeed it takes lots of courage and madness not only to do this, but also to continue doing this.


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