In COVID-19 Era; Salima Rahman, a Turkmen of Afghanistan Serves Afghan Refugees in Pakistan

An Afghan refugee doctor has recently been praised by the United Nations for treating patients with coronavirus in Pakistan.

The doctor is named Salimeh Rahman. She is one of the front-line doctors fighting the Coronavirus virus, which provides services at the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi.

This is the second Afghan woman who is on the first headlines in the immigration world in this critical situation in the fight against coronavirus.

Previously, Najiba Gholami, an Afghan immigrant girl in Iran, has shone at one of Mashhad’s hospitals in Corona.

Medicine in Rawalpindi

Salima Rahman has been working as a health care worker at the Holy Family Hospital since 2015.  Originally an intern, she is currently pursuing a postgraduate internship at the hospital in her final year of training.

The Holy Hospital is one of the best hospitals in Rawalpindi, visited by many refugees and locals.

With the spread of the coronavirus across the country, as well as in Pakistan, about 4,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country so far, of which 64 have died.

“We are advising and educating people about preventing the virus and minimizing its prevalence,” Salima Rahman told Reporterly.

 That’s What Made Her a Doctor

In 1991, the day Salima Rahman was due to be born, a doctor at the Swabi refugee camp, where Ms. Rahman’s family had been living since 1980, told her father that his wife’s unborn child was in a critical condition and that he should do whatever it took and transfer his wife to the hospital sooner.

But his father was unable to transfer his wife to that hospital. He did not have enough money to do so.  He had many problems, and at the end, Salima Rahman was born in the same camp.

At the time of her birth, his father vowed that when his child born, whether he was a girl or a boy, will become a doctor to serve others, and no other refugee would have to face these challenges.

Dr. Rahman was born without serious complications, and since then her parents have been trying to make her dream of becoming a doctor.

As a refugee Turkmen Afghan, Salima Rahman lives with her Turkmen people in Atok, Pakistan.

Ms. Rahman’s father, along with the Turkmen community, settled in the Soviet Union’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa refugee camp in 1980 during the Soviet Union’s war, which is supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The family moved to Atok from the camp in 1993.

This family has 8 members and Salimeh Rahman is thr second eldest member of the family. She has 4 brothers and 1 sister.  All of them have completed their primary education at the Atok refugee school.

“My father immigrated here, he had nothing, he was an orphan, he had no financial and social support and he had a lot of problems, but those difficult days passed and today he is busy with a small business in handmade carpets that is woven by refugee families,” she said.

First Female Physician

She completed her education in Pakistan. The refugee school is run by an organization called Barakat in Atak, where she studied and then entered Atak State College.

She is the first woman from the Turkmen refugee community to work and study as a doctor.  Ms. Rahman has no guidance, and the country’s laws are not the same for refugees as others, but she still managed to make her father’s dream come true.

She has competed for her bachelor’s degree in medical sciences but has competed with others to obtain a site dedicated to Afghan immigrants in Punjab province.  That’s how she got her License.

She is now a model for refugee women from the Turkmen people because she has overcome many cultural and social barriers to higher education.

Afghan refugees in Pakistan

Although Salima Rahman is a doctor, she still has many challenges. She is still struggling to serve the people of Pakistan and the Turkmen community after completing her education in Pakistan because she is not allowed to work under Pakistani law, but she is now happy to serve two nations in the Holy Family Hospital.

Although refugees have the opportunity to make a living, they lack equal opportunities with other Pakistani citizens, she said.

“Asylum seekers work on their own, and most of them have daily wages and some livelihoods. During the restriction due to COVID-19, they have no support to their lives and families, so they definitely need support,” Dr. Rahman said. The UNHCR and some other organizations are trying to support them and help them improve their living conditions. Now, due to the Corona crisis, refugees and asylum seekers may need more help than ever before.”

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