Serving the people of the UAE as a doctor for the last three decades has been a feeling of unconditional love for Dr Saleema Wani
The greatest treasure for me as a doctor in the UAE, has been to witness babies born at my hands, go on to become mothers and fathers themselves!
During my three-decade’ plus journey in the UAE, I have been at hand to see generation after generation bring in beautiful children into this world.
I remember holding the hands of a young mother giving birth to her daughter. And then years later, holding the hands of her daughter as she gave birth to her two children.
And to think that when I landed here with my husband on April 15, 1989, I thought I would be spending probably a year or two, before returning to my home country.
The second day after landing in the UAE from Kashmir, I began work as a junior doctor at the Corniche Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Interestingly, when I arrived here, I had still not resigned from my previous role. I had planned on staying here for a few years, before returning to my home country. Little did I know then that those ‘few years’ would extend into a ‘few decades’ — thirty-two years to be precise.
In those years, I have walked in and out of the hospital day in and day out. There were times when I was extremely tired and desolate, as life kept marching ahead, but I could not give up. I was on a mission, with little time to spare!
When I think about leaving the UAE, it is hard to imagine. It is hard to leave a country when it feels like home and you are surrounded by family — not only your own blood, but the many who have become my extended family here — thanks to my profession.
I have served two generations of mothers, and today I am helping those women born through my hands, give birth to new babies! Many of them still call me up and ask for my advice, and treat me as if I were their second mother. How could I possibly leave my children behind?
When I look at these mothers, I see that while so many changes have taken place in the UAE over the last three decades — be it socio-economic change or in other aspects, two things have re mained constant — the values and traditions instilled in Emiratis and expats by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan. The second is the weather! And while not much can be said about the weather, it is fair to say that it was these values and traditions of love and patronage showered by families and elders, that made me feel like I was at home — just like a member of each of their families. It gives me comfort knowing my two sons Mohammed and Ammar are never going to be alone.
Raising two sons whilst working as a doctor, being a wife, and earning qualifications all at once was not easy. But how could I not upskill when the path was paved for me through the pragmatic and visionary leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Our Nation’s Mother Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF).
Sheikh Zayed once said: “No matter how many buildings, foundations, schools and hospitals we build, or how many bridges we raise, all these are material entities. The real spirit behind the progress is the human spirit, able man with his intellect and capabilities.”
This particular quote resonates deeply with me. It inspired me to work on my growth in order to remain abreast with the latest technological advancements, as well as give back to the community by assuming several teaching and mentoring roles in the education sector.
Erich Fromm once wrote that: “People who manage to learn to love in a mature and conscious way understand that love isn’t possession nor conditions. Love is a caring and firm desire to promote the growth of all those people we love.”
Simply put, serving the people of this country as a doctor for the last three decades has been a feeling of unconditional love for me. As I reflect on my time in this country, and the years to come, I feel that life is not about us doing what we love; rather, we need to love what we do.
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