In the twilight of dawn each day, Adnan wakes up to the incessant chirping of crickets. He puts on a crisp white uniform, and clips a badge onto its pocket labelled, Assistant Nurse, The Aga Khan Hospital. As he steps into the hospital’s red brick structure, moments before the chaos of the emergency room engulfs him, Adnan braces himself for the day that is yet to unfold, like a soldier preparing for battle.
“As a child, I always imagined myself in plain yellow Khakis, serving my country as a soldier,” he recounts. “But I tell myself now that there are more than one ways to serve. I chose this field because I have witnessed my loved ones struggling in times of emergencies because of the dearth of medical professionals. What disappoints me however, is the violence healthcare professionals in Pakistan face despite the hard work they put in.”
Back at home, sitting atop a charpoy beside Adnan is Nazira Bibi, his mother, beaming with pride. “When the kids were younger, it was a struggle to pay for the doctors’ fee and medicines. We often wished for one of our children to grow up and pursue the field of medicine,” she recalls.
15 years ago, Nazira Bibi and her husband, Mukhtar Ahmed, migrated to Karachi from a small village in Multan to build a better future for their children. But as they began settling into the city life, Mukhtar, a carpenter, struggled to provide for the family. To aid the meager family income, Nazira Bibi began stitching clothes at home. Adnan, who was seven years old then, was admitted to the TCF school close to their home in Ittehad Town, where many children in the neighborhood studied. Today, Adnan is a role model for the children in his community.
“There are two attributes that help you most during an emergency situation: focus and courage,” Adnan says. “I developed these attributes at my school. A strong base of education coupled with a culture of trust and empathy have helped me build the strength required for nursing.”
“If I get a chance, I would like to join the Pakistan Army as a military nurse to live my dream of serving in the army,” says Adnan as he breaks into a smile.