PeMSAA Sydney – How it all began.
The Peredeniya medico expatriates living in North America convened and maintained annual PeMSAA meetings at Las Vegas in the 1990’s. They asked us to hold the 2008 meeting in Sydney in order to rotate around various countries.
The challenges to host such an event were numerous:
- Until this invitation, we had no contact or get together in Sydney or Australia as Peredeniya medicos. We had no idea of numbers or names of doctors apart from our immediate circle of friends.
- When contacted, some were reluctant to join us or were not interested in such a fellowship.
- There was no established organisation
- There were no funds
- There was little experience in organising a 3 day event as in the style of parent PeMSAA ( LA)
The drive to form a committee was itself a difficult task. A few who knew each other got together and formed a committee and, as I was from the senior batch I was elected president.
So began a rather difficult and uphill journey. The planning was meticulous. We met one year in advance once a month at a member’s house, minutes were maintained, but we soon realised our limitations especially in setting up a new organisation and lack of funds. Each committee member and partner paid their registration fees in advance to pay for the deposit for the hall hire!.
This made us seek sponsorships from drug companies, who were not very enthusiastic to sponsor an unknown entity such as PeMSAA, but we persevered. To get the money from outside sources we had to register our organisation and get an ABN. Being doctors who never had to work outside our hospitals and patient clinics, we were forced to seek help from our non medical spouses. They supported us in many ways such as opening separate PeMSAA bank accounts, application for ABN, invitation of Chief Guest, Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of NSW to open our conference, getting special plaques as gifts for the Governor and conference speakers.
We expected a good turnout from other countries, but response was poor, so we had to open the conference to non Peredeniya doctors and their spouses.
At the end it was a successful event and much talked about amongst our local crowd and visitors.
During the conference we held informal discussion amongst the delegates as to the future of PeMSAA Sydney. Majority supported the view to hold meetings in other states and thus was the birth of PeMSAA Australasia.
Dr Nithi Sivathondan ( Tharmakulasingam)
Founder President – PeMSAA Australia 2008