105 medical staff from Kerala landed in the UAE today. They will serve the country, which is home to some 3.5 million Indians.
Reenu Augustine, an emergency nurse from Alappuzha district of Kerala, has joined the Covid-19 medical mission in the UAE leaving her four-month-old baby at home in India. “Saving the lives of people affected by the virus is more important,” said the mother of two children. Her elder daughter is four.
“It breaks my heart to leave my baby home with my husband and parents. He is too small. But I think this is the time the world requires my service the most. I am sacrificing my happiness for a larger cause: the common good of humanity,” she told Khaleej Times, as some 105 medical staff from Kerala landed in the UAE on Wednesday. They will serve the country, which is home to some 3.5 million Indians. This is the second batch of nurses to arrive in the UAE after initial 88 staff of Aster DM Healthcare joined frontline duties last week.
Photo: Reenu Augustine
However, the decision to come to the UAE as part of the medical mission was not easy for Reenu.
“My family was very worried over me getting infected. It took me some time to convince them about the safety measures in hospitals.”
Reenu stressed she can’t live in fear of getting infected.
“What would have been the condition of the world if the healthcare frontline warriors nurtured this thought? We know our services are invaluable and indispensable during this time of distress. It is no time to turn back to safety. It is the time that we defend and contain the virus. All healthcare workers around the world are waiting for that day to come. They are working and dreaming about it. And it is not too far,” she averred.
‘Biggest challenge of my life’
Muhammed Raid, a respiratory therapist, is on his first trip abroad and never imagined it would be for such a big mission. He hopes his experience of treating Covid-19 and Nipah patients in Kerala will come in handy.
“I hail from Kozhikode district and was on the frontline during Nipah virus outbreak in 2018. In past few months, I have taken care of Covid-19 patients.”
Photo: Muhammed Raid (centre) with colleagues
Kerala was among the first states in India to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak with preventive measures.
Raid noted it was an emotional moment for many of the staff, who like him came to the Gulf for the first time.
“I know this is the biggest challenge of my life. I am single and my parents were very happy to see me be a part of the mission,” he said.
‘I got stuck in India for 70 days’
Sheba Pradeep, nurse manager, critical care, Burjeel Medical City, was stuck in India due to the lockdown. There were 30 others who were in a similar situation and returned now. “I went on a 17-day leave on March 9 and got stuck there for 70 days. There was no way to return and VPS Healthcare arranged this trip.”
The second batch of 105 medics from #India arrives in #UAE for the #Covid19 mission. The #UAE-based VPS Healthcare bought the team of nurses, doctors, and paramedics, on a specially chartered #EtihadAirways. https://t.co/ywP3eNYDUu
Video by Ryan Lim@cgidubai @IndembAbuDhabi pic.twitter.com/ttbGWkkIId
– Khaleej Times (@khaleejtimes) May 20, 2020
Sheba like rest of the staff took a PCR test in Kochi and again after landing in Abu Dhabi. She will rejoin work once the Covid-19 test result is out.
‘We are sure to win this battle’
Vinod Sebastian, a male nurse, already misses his four-month-old baby but said he is duty-bound to defend the spread of virus.
“How can we hold back when a virus is raging around the world,” asked the father of two kids.
Photo: Vinod Sebastian
With over 11 years of experience, Sebastian volunteered during Kerala floods and recently amid the Covid-19 crisis, and felt fully prepared for the battle against the virus.
“We are sure to win this battle. We have the prayers of the whole world with us. It is our time to act and we shall do it to our fullest abilities,” the native of Ernakulam district put it succintly.
‘Wanted to serve Covid-19 patients’
For 25-year-old KT Kamarunissa from Kozhikode district, the chance to serve the people during this health emergency is dream come true.
Photo: KT Kamarunissa
“I wanted to serve Covid-19 patients. I had contacted the district authorities in Kozhikode for a possibility to volunteer in any of the Covid-19 facilities but didn’t get a chance. It was then that I came to know about this recruitment carried out by VPS Healthcare. I had no second thoughts.”
She was well supported by her family but her only issue was of being separated from her child.
“I will be meeting my child after winning this battle,” said Kamarunissa, who treated a Nipah-infected patient when there was an outbreak in Kozhikode in 2018.
‘Proud to be part of this mission’
VR Rakhi, an ICU nurse for over six years, had persuaded her family to join the medical mission.
“This is our duty. We have to step forward to help the world in this crisis. I am proud to be a part of this mission,” Rakhi said. “I will miss my six-year-old daughter. She has told me that she will study well and become a smart girl and learn everything by the time I get back home,” she said as her voice trailed off.
‘Will work to make parents proud’
Pinkymol Mathew, a 26-year-old nurse from Kottayam, has worked in the critical care department for about three years now and found full backing from her family for this mission.
“I discussed this opportunity with my family and all were very supportive. Now, I should do my work well to keep my parents proud.”
Photo: Pinkymol Mathew
The 105-member medical team will now be divided into groups and will undergo training at various Covid-19 hospitals under VPS Healthcare. They will be on the frontlines as soon as the Covid-19 test results are delivered to them.
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