Many people are not good at remembering numbers and dates. I am one of them, but I can still remember some.
One of them is February 14th, 1996, when I lost my most valuable asset: my mother (may her soul rest in peace). She died from acute liver failure that perhaps resulted from a lack of health and emergency facilities in the village where I was born and raised.
I was 10 years old, a student in the 5th grade. Before she passed away, she gave me one last wish: that I would become a famous doctor. But I saw uncertainty in her eyes when she closed them for the last time.
The next important date that I can remember is February 13th, 2009 when I officially became a doctor. I went on to live an ordinary life with a balance of loss and gain. My goals and ambitions were always with me, but it wasn’t until another date, October 11th, 2011, that I found my life purpose.
This is the day that I joined International Medical Corps as a Medical Officer for relief and rehabilitation programs in flood-affected areas of Pakistan. I knew my life was going to change forever, but when I left my bed at 5:30 am for the first time and started to travel in an International Medical Corps vehicle through the devastated area, what I witnessed gave me a deep sorrow more painful than any bone crush.
Hundreds of poor, homeless, diseased, and malnourished patients (children, women, and elderly) were in need of help. For a moment my brain was shocked. I could see my purpose, ambitions, and mother’s wishes right in front of my eyes.
I then embarked on one of the best days of my life, and I have not looked back since.
In the past six months, I have found that there is no better feeling than giving a dying patient new life, or learning that a woman finally got pregnant after 17 years with our help.
I have been able to help so many people, like the elderly man who complained of pain in his bladder, or the child who needed deworming medications. I have stitched fingers, treated skin infections, and seen malnourished children and women nourished back to health because of International Medical Corps.
I have purpose every morning. No child should die of malnutrition. No patient should suffer from a severe infection because he doesn’t have antibiotics. No pregnant woman should have to suffer from complications in her delivery because health services were not available.
I wish I could tell my mother that I have started to live my life with purpose, that I am proud that my wife is living with the same purpose, and that I have found a larger family with International Medical Corps.
Every time I treat chronic pain, it heals me from inside. It gives me strength, seeing a community that was crippled by disaster start to get up through its own resilience. Above all, I can see my mother’s face, as she taps me on the shoulder, every time that humanity is relieved.
There is definitely no better feeling than this.