SA pharmacists tell their story

PH armacY will be front and centre in an episode of a new ABC elevision series called Dream Australia, which aims to showcase migrant success stories in a similar ormat to the popular Australian Story program. The South Australian government is involved in the first season, with exclusive promotional rights to the show which will be broadcast on the international Australia Network eaching about 50 million viewers across Asia, South Pacific and the Indian subcontinent. Pharmacist couple Irfan and Sobia Hashmi’s participation in the program was showcased last weekend in a major story in the Adelaide Advertiser. The couple moved to Australia from Pakistan in 2003, and have set up successful outlets under their Risdon Pharmacy Group in a number of remote SA locations which previously were without a pharmacy, including Coober Pedy, Quorn and Orroroo. And ironically they decided to settle in SA after seeing the Pakistani flag flying in the main street of Port Pirie. “We drove into Port Pirie just to look around and there in the main street we saw the Pakistani flag with other flags of the world flying,” Irfan said. “We were amazed and the local people told us the mayor had tarted flying the flag to celebrate some other health professionals, and we decided to stay,” he added. At the time there was a significant shortage of regional pharmacists in SA, with the couple both studying for registration and postgraduate qualifications. Prior to opening their outlets in the small towns locals were forced to rely on the post for medications. They’re PSA members and part of the Pakistan Medical Association of South Australia and (of course) the South Australia Cricket Association. Irfan was the 2009 South Australian Pharmacist of the Year. And they’re also proud Pharmacy Guild members, as evidenced in the photo published in the paper on the weekend (above) where Irfan and Sobia are wearing their Pharmacy Guild tie and scarf.


Migrant successes to showcase state

‘‘We drove into Port Pirie just to have a look around and there in the main street we saw the Pakistani flag with other flags of the world flying,’’ Irfan said. ‘‘We were amazed and the local people told us a mayor had started flying the flag to celebrate some other health professionals, and we decided to stay.’’ The couple, who have an outlet in Port Pirie as well as Blakeview in Adelaide, have won awards for their services to the industry. Irfan said affordability and a lifestyle suited to young families were also reasons to settle in SA rather than Melbourne or Sydney. At the time there was a large shortage of regional pharmacists in SA and both were studying for registration and postgraduate qualifications. Irfan said there were difficult times along the way but he has had many posi- tive experiences with South Australian people. When Sobia applied to the pharmacy board to open their first pharmacy in Port Pirie, Irfan’s employer sacked him and the couple struggled for months with no income. R ACISM against the couple in regional areas has been iso- lated. Once when Irfan was get- ting petrol in Melrose and was about to open a pharmacy in Orroroo, a woman asked whether he was a boat person and told him to go back to Pakistan. Before they opened their pharmacies in the smaller towns, people relied on the post for their drugs. Kuol Baak will also feature in the series. He was one of the so-called ‘‘lost boys’’ of South Sudan before moving to South Australia, and now lives in Port Pirie with his wife Mel. Kuol was 11 when civil war broke out in his homeland and a year later he became a child soldier, abducted from his rural village by rebel fighters. He didn’t see his family for another 20 years. Until they were old enough to hold guns the boys were educated, which was an opportunity Kuol says he would never have had in his village. But when the United States began financial aid to the rebels, it did so on condition that the boy soldiers be disarmed, leaving tens of thousands of them to fend for themselves. They were called ‘‘The Lost Boys’’ and thousands died of starvation, predation and execution. After being taken to a Kenyan refugee camp, Kuol completed school and took an interest in urban geography and town planning. He settled in Adelaide where he worked as a brick- layer and helped South Sudanese refugees. He met Mel who was studying medicine in Adelaide, and he completed a degree in town planning. In Port Pirie the council had been looking for a town planner for 12 months, and after six months the only other planner quit. Kuol and Mel travelled back to his village for the first time in 20 years. The Baaks’ charity, Timpir, raises funds for 700 children to be educated in the villages of Kuol’s homeland and provides bore water and health aid. ‘‘When I started in town planning I hoped to be able to make better towns in Africa, but now I think I am doing that in Port Pirie,’’ Kuol said. ‘‘I have had some people angry over the years, but it is always with the planning process, not me personally, but in development you can’t always do what you want.’’


Just bring it on, say diehard supporters

THERE will be no prizes for guessing where Irfan Hashmi and Krishnaswamy Sundararajan will be on Sunday afternoon. The devoted cricket fans will be at the sell-out match between Pakistan and India at the Adelaide Oval. Mr Hashmi, who owns five pharmacies in SA, is a devoted Pakistan fan. Born in Pakistan, he came to SA 12 years ago where he continues to indulge his love of cricket. “Cricket brings joy, it brings people together and it’s a big social event,” he says. Dr Sundararajan, born in Vellore in southern India, is an intensive care physician at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Adelaide and president of the South Australian Indian Medical Association. “Indian fans wouldn’t mind losing the World Cup, as long as Pakistan doesn’t win,” he says.