Hi Samsung Village readers! My name is Dohee Lee, an associate at Samsung Engineering, and today I’d like to share with you a heartwarming experience I had in a country far, far away from Korea where I live: Algeria.
A few weeks ago, I started two-month on-the-job training at our oil refinery project site in Algeria’s Skikda region. In July 2009, Samsung Engineering won a project to revamp an oil refinery for state-run oil companySonatrach, and it’s on track to be completed this year. Once completed, the refinery will have an increased capacity of 330,000 BPSD (barrels per stream day) and be able to churn out new petrochemical products such as isomerate, para-xylene and benzene.
While our engineers were toiling away, transporting heavy modules close to 2,000 tons, a different type of project took place on the site that was just as important to the Skikda community, and that even provided life-changing opportunities to many Algerians.
And today, I proudly present the “Medical Cooperation Program in Algeria,” a social responsibility program that was initiated, organized and supported by Samsung Engineering’s Skikda project team.
After five months of hard work with other great organizations such as the Ministere de la Sante a Skikda, L’hospita Skikda, Hallym University, Global Image Care and Gana Catering, eight prominent doctors from Korea took a journey of more than 30 hours to arrive in Skikda.
To tell you a little bit more about the region, Skikda is an industrial city with many petrochemical complexes. Unfortunately, quite a few of the residents have suffered third- or fourth-degree burns from gas explosions, and no access to plastic surgeons means most victims remain disfigured for the rest of their lives. There are also those suffering from congenital malformations like cleft palate, or severe neuropathy.
For these people, the Medical Cooperation Program was nothing in short of a miracle. Over 95 patients consulted with Korean plastic surgeons and neurologists and among them 28 underwent successful operations.
I was fortunate to witness some of these life-changing surgeries and to meet the doctors who created miracles. I was overwhelmed with happiness for the people who benefitted from this program and awed by the expertise of the doctors. I also thought it was a huge benefit for the local Algerian medical community and staff that were able to gain know-how and expertise through these surgeries led by the Korean doctors.
I got a chance to sit down with Hyowon Seo, Construction Director of the Skikda Refinery Plant at Samsung Engineering, who shared with me how he felt about the medical project.
Dohee: Congratulations for the successful completion of the first Medical Cooperation Program! What are your thoughts on this program?
Seo: Many of us were doubtful about the possibility of this project because so many pieces of the puzzle had to fit together. But everyone played their part well and we – along with our client Sonatrach, the local government, Gana Catering, GIC, and Hallym University – worked together as a great team. The result was a big beautiful picture. If any one of our partners had been missing, we could not have achieved such success.
Dohee: How was the medical team received by the locals?
Seo: The medical team was made of the best doctors in Korea including five prominent professors. They used their own vacations to come here, sacrificing their personal time to rest or to be with their families to make a difference to the lives of Algerians. They had very hectic operation schedules, but never once did I hear them complain about how tired they were. Rather, they wanted to do more operations. Their sense of duty and sprit of sacrifice was really impressive.
Dohee: What motivated you to put together this volunteer project? I am sure the plant project itself would have kept your team pretty busy and tied up.
Seo: Our first priority is bringing the best plant to the client. But our project becomes more meaningful when we make a contribution to the local community. We thought that the medical donation program was the best way to offer direct help to the local community.
The medical project not only changed the lives of 28 patients, but also raised the local community’s awareness of the importance of medical service. The plan to build a hospital specializing in treating burn patients in Skikda has become more concrete after being on the back burner for quite some time. Our program also helped bring to attention the need for a neurosurgeon department in L’hospita Skikda and now they have staffed two neurosurgeons for that department.
During my conversation with Hyowon, I learned that Ministere de la Sante a Skikda has officially requested that a second Medical Cooperation Program take place this September. For those patients that need more complex surgeries will be sent to Korea soon thanks to Samsung Engineering and Hallym University as they have both pledged to offer both financial and medical support for these patients too.
As this program continues, we look forward to sharing more heart-warming stories!