60 Seconds with Doctor – Gaggandeep Singh Alg
Who is Dr Gaggandeep Singh Alg?
Well I could tell you so much! First of all I am a Sikh, born and brought up in an amazing Sikh family. Iím also a doctor about to start his speciality training in London, and the founder and current president of the British Sikh Doctors Organisation.
What is it like being a turbaned Sikh doctor?
Its amazing. I am so proud to wear my dastaar when working in various NHS hospitals. I am currently in deep Essex, by the sea-side, and I think I might be the only turbaned Sikh there. However I walk with pride, always wear my dastaar and people do stare, but when I smile at them they usually smile back! You do get the odd ignorant comment, but you just stand tall and smile. My biggest driving force is Waheguru ji (God) and my family. My parents have brought me up to be a good Sikh. My father, Mohinderjit Singh Alg has always been my ultimate role model. He has always been there for me, with his quiet but meaningful words I have kept my Sikhi and have reached by potential.
Why is your father such an inspiration?
I wonít talk too much about my father because he himself is a very humble man. My father was born in Tanzania, East Africa. He studied hard and went to university, his dream was to be a doctor. He got married and came to the U.K. and realised that he could not continue his medical education here as his qualifications from abroad were not accepted here, he had to start right from the beginning again. However being married he had to provide for my mother and the rest of the family, so he applied for a job in the civil service and was one of the lucky few who got a job. He has worked in various departments within the civil service and his final post was at the Cabinet Office. My father wanted all his 4 children to be well educated and wanted us all to have private education. So, as well as working 8am to 6pm in the city he worked in various other jobs. For most of my life I saw him wake up at 5am tie his beard and his dastaar, leave the house at 7am and return home at around 11pm, he would have dinner and then sleep. His routine was the same for over 30 years and only recently he has been able to retire. He has never been on holiday and has never asked for anything. How can this man not be an inspiration. I always wanted to be a doctor, but I would be lying if I did not admit that I partly became a doctor to fulfil his dream of being one too.
Behind every great man there is a great woman, and thatís definitely my mother. My mother has always supported my father, even she has worked very hard all her life. She has always kept me motivated and worries about me constantly. I canít forget the rest of my family, my chacha (dads brother) and chachee (chachaís wife), and my aunty (fatherís sister) and all my brothers and sisters have all played a huge part in who I am today. Waheguru and my family are definitely my driving force in life.
How has Sikhi helped you to reach your potential?
I have to admit even though I have always maintained my dastaar and have never cut my hair, I have not always understood why. I endured quite a bit of resistance from kids at school regarding my dastaar and hair, but something made me keep it. As a teenager I started reading more about my faith and understood why Iím a Sikh and what it means to be a Sikh, and I love it! I am still learning and I will for the rest of my life, every word in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji has so much meaning and strength.
One thing Sikhi has taught me is that always think about what you have, not what you donít have, always help and provide for those less fortunate, regardless of caste and creed. With my skills and knowledge Waheguru ji has given me the chance to practice my Sikh humanitarian role in my daily job and with BSDO.
What is British Sikh Doctors Organisation?
I started British Sikh Doctorís Organisation (BSDO) in 2010. I had always wanted to set up BSDO for many years, even before I started medical school. I wanted to give something back to my family and community, who with Waheguru Jiís blessings brought me up to achieve every ambition I have ever had. Mine and my familyís belief in Waheguru Ji and the teachings of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji have given me the strength to complete medical school and become a doctor. Now, I have the chance and the ability, with all my brothers and sisters to build an organisation and provide health care to all human kind. So thatís what the organisation does. It supports people from all backgrounds, giving health advise, screening for common medical and dental illnesses, and mentors both school children and trainee doctors to get in to and through medical and dental school. We are doing more and more everyday, and its just sewa. We do not ask for donations, we have lots of fantastic friends and family who support us and allow us to do our work!
So, what next for BSDO?
We have lots of big events coming up this summer. We have our screening programmes which will be huge! We are starting our school mentoring service in September, and we have a very special surprise for our medical and dental students who wish to travel the globe. Additionally our new website will be launched very soon. So watch this space!
How can we all help BSDO?
Simply ĎLikeí our facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/pages/British-Sikh-Doctors-Organisation/214739741877063). Tell everyone and anyone about us. Contact us if you want us to screen anywhere or if you are interested in joining us. All our contact details are on†www.britishsikhdocs.com.
Any final messages?
Please support BSDO, just Ďlikingí our facebook group shows your support for our cause. Also to anyone reading this: always be strong, stand tall and work hard, you will get to where you want to be. Remember Waheguru with every breath you take, serve humanity and provide to those less fortunate