"I hope I will be a small piece in the puzzle; be part of the solution. It is a major problem but if everyone says 'it's not my problem, it's someone else's problem', then there will be no solution."
Dr Munjed Al Muderis is a pioneering orthopaedic surgeon giving amputees the ability to walk again. He is also one of our newest Red Cross Ambassadors.
Like many of the people Red Cross supports, Dr Al Muderis has experienced the fear and uncertainty of war and disaster. After a privileged upbringing in Iraq, he was living his dream of being a surgeon, until everything changed when he was ordered to mutilate defecting soldiers as a punishment under the Saddam Hussein regime. He refused and had to flee for his life.
Dr Al Muderis has seen first-hand how Red Cross and its generous supporters are easing the plight of many thousands of people around the world. "I first became aware of Red Cross, unfortunately, in a time of crisis with my family," Dr Al Muderis says.
"I lived through the war with Iraq and Iran, and the war between Iraq and the Coalition."
As a young surgeon he was forced to flee Iraq after refusing an order from Saddam Hussein to mutilate a busload of military deserters. He risked his life on a leaky boat to be granted asylum in Australia.
"I spent 10 months in Curtin Detention Centre, one of the most notorious incarceration places on earth. I was called by a number. 982 was my number."
Throughout these harrowing experiences, Dr Al Muderis saw how volunteers and staff working under the red cross emblem were bringing hope and care when all else seemed lost.
"The first time I saw the Red Cross emblem was in Amman airport. They were helping people into buses.
"As the war continued, I became more aware of Red Cross' involvement, especially with prisoners of war… Several members of my family were prisoners of war, including my cousin, and letters were sent through Red Cross from him to us and from us to him.
"When the war finished and prisoners of war were exchanged, Red Cross played a big role, from my memory, to bring those prisoners of war back home.
"Red Cross is one of a handful of organisations that is completely neutral and not for profit, with no political agenda. I have always wanted to be part of an organisation that is purely devoted to humanitarian purposes."
Now that Dr Al Muderis has found safety and opportunity in Australia, he has turned to Red Cross to help in the best way he can: as a passionate surgeon and advocate for our work.
"I am keen to serve Red Cross in the capacity of a surgeon in times of disaster. Red Cross is the first in the field in any kind of disaster, regardless of how dangerous the situation is, anywhere in the world.
"I strongly feel that as an Australian, we have a duty of care towards our fellow humans. Today, in 2015, [there are] 59 million people who have been displaced… this could be anyone, it could be us at some time."
For more than 100 years, Red Cross has supported vulnerable people who have come to Australia in search of safety. We are able to provide this vital aid because of the generous support of donors and regular givers, together with the shared passion of our volunteers and Ambassadors like Dr Munjed Al Muderis.
Watch the full interview with Dr Al Muderis »
Photo: Tim Bauer