Dubai: An Indian woman aged 69 is leaving the UAE today (December 14) after 42 years of service in the health sector in Abu Dhabi.
Full of cherished memories, Keralite Mary Mathews recalled how she had worked as a medical secretary at government hospitals in Abu Dhabi since 1978, and upon her retirement in 2012, had got a job with the same profile in the private sector in 2013.
Sharing her story with Gulf News, Mary said she landed in the UAE in 1977 with her husband Kochupurackal Kochukunju Mathews, who was an employee at the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Department. In keeping with her mother’s wish, Mary was qualified to become a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in History and another in Education. When she got the opportunity to work with a government hospital as a medical secretary, however, she said her husband encouraged her to opt for it.
“Hence, I joined the Central Hospital, which eventually became Sheikh Khalifa Medical City. In 1993, I was transferred to Al Mafraq Hospital (currently known as Sheikh Shakbout Medical City).” It was after serving there for three decades that Mary retired from government service. However, she got the same job with Burjeel Hospital within a year. After seven years of service there, Mary has finally called it a day and is flying back home for good.
Having worked under doctors specialised in ophthalmology, ENT, anaesthesia and long-term care, Mary’s job profile included typing medical reports of patients, making store inventory requests and patient room inspections to ensure everything was in place. She said she was happy to see the growth of the health-care sector in the UAE and also how Emirati women have been empowered through education.
“Hospitals and clinics had modest facilities at the time when I first reached here. Now, I have worked in a hospital that has five-star facilities, offering a high level of patient care,” she observed. “I have seen this country’s astounding growth in various fields and I am grateful for everything that I have received from this country. Everyone loves to be here in peace and harmony and there is safety for women and families.”
She said she was thankful to her past and current employers, especially Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director, VPS Healthcare, for employing her at Burjeel Hospital at the age of 60, post her retirement.
Mary said she wished to spend her retired life doing farming and gardening in Kerala to live a “self-sufficient” life. “I am looking forward to spending more time with my relatives and in the church, doing social service.”
She said her only regret was not being able to fulfil her mother’s dream of making her a teacher. “I will see if I can give private tuition to children so that I can do justice to my mother that way,” Mary said.
Words of appreciation, gratitude
One of the few Indian expatriate women with such a long official track record in the UAE, the grandma of five has been showered with love and gratitude by her family and colleagues.
In a statement to Gulf News, Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, who presented a farewell gift to Mary, said she was “very dedicated, committed and diligent at work”.
“Her long-time experience in the government sector had played a crucial role in moulding her. She was bold, persevering and handled challenges and crises deftly. She joined us in 2013 after retiring from the government sector and had worked in my team.”
He said Mary “was like a family” to all at the hospital. “We at VPS Healthcare and Burjeel Hospital wish her all the very best. We will miss her and will always be grateful to her for all the services,” he added.
“Everyone in Burjeel loves her and has a lot of respect for her. We are going to miss her a lot,” said another colleague.
Mary’s Sharjah-based daughter Bindhu recollected how her mother supported the family for decades, especially after she and her two siblings lost their father to cancer in 2005. “That was a painful point for my mum. She struggled for the betterment of us children. Though I was employed, I did not have a good pay then, being only a starter. I had helplessly watched the tears in my mum’s eyes. When I myself became a mother later, I could realise the value of the sacrifice and pain she had suffered — all alone — for us children,” Bindhu said.