My Father – Dr. Umanand Prasad

My Father was one of South Australia’s most eminent doctors he was also one of Fijian’s most notable philanthropist.
Abel and Dad
He died in a car accident at one of Adelaide’s most notorious intersections.

Throughout his life he was always one to help others. I guess thats where my need to help others comes in. His most notable philanthropic endeavour was to help a Fiji-based medical school.

When he passed away our entire family was devastated due to the fact he passed away at the young age of 66.

Dad and Kalpi on his way to SingaporeThe newspaper reported that his colleagues also praised the “humble good Samaritan” who had “set a new standard for benevolence” as one of Fiji’s leading physicians and most generous philanthropists.

IMG_1094The father-of-seven split his time between Adelaide – where he owned “several properties and businesses”- and Lautoka, on the west coast of Fiji, where he taught at the medical school named in his honour.

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He and his wife also a doctor emigrated to Australia from the pacific island almost 40 years ago after answering a call for volunteer doctors to help treat the injured in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracey in Darwin.

Dr Prasad, who was a close friend of the later Premier Don Dunstan, established his own GP practice at Brahma Lodge, which is today one of the largest medical centres in the northern suburbs.

The former Fijian Ministry of Health official won plaudits for his charity work, including a donation of more than FJD$1m ($600,000), that helped build the University of Fiji medical school.

Dad was appointed “honorary dean” of Umanand Prasad School of Medicine when it opened in 2008 and was “eagerly” awaiting the graduation of the first batch of students in December, unfortunately he did not make it but his wife Dr. Uma Prasad and daughters attended the graduation.

The centre was formally opened by the country’s Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama in a ceremony attended by the country’s elite including members of Cabinet, the diplomatic corps and other “distinguished guests”. It was indeed an honour to have been part of the opening and helping during the construction period.

Colleagues said the “good Samaritan” had paid off his donation to the school in April along with FJD$45,000 ($26,000) worth of scholarships before the first batch of students graduate in December.

My father was heavily involved in the Indian Association of South Australia, also helped Fijian politicians seek asylum in Australia following the 1987 coup.

“He strongly believed in serving the community throughout the Northern suburbs,”

“His legacy is immense. He was a wonderful, generous, loving man and incredibly humble.

“He did not seek or encourage others to seek accolades for himself, as that was not his motivation.”

It was nice that Mr. Kamlesh Arya, a spokesman for the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji [APSF], a religious body representing Indian Fijians, said the island community was “shocked”.

“Dr Prasad had been eagerly awaiting the [graduation] event to be present and participate,” he said.

“The news of his tragic passing has shocked the Sabha and its members. Fiji has lost a good son.”

The doctor had plans to build a Hall of Residence for the students and had recently bought land adjacent to its campus but his death has now thrown the project into doubt. It is now plan to help finish off the dream my father had and in honour of my mother will name it Dr. Uma Prasad Residence.

When he passed I received so many Facebooks messages from students who he treated like his own children saying

“Dr Prasad’s memories would always be part of the campus life … through the majestic three-storey building of the Umanand Prasad School of Medicine.”

I remember once my father telling me he had not just seven children but 127 children.
He loved each and everyone of his children. I could see it in his face everyday for the six months I spent with him in Fiji.

Dad was originally from Labasa, on Vanua Levu, the second largest island of Fiji.

 

I know that I have let him down in so many ways and there is no way that he will ever be willing to forgive me. But for now I will honour him by being true to my word.

Dad I will always love you and miss you everyday.

Love

Kalpi

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