'Recognition for frontliners': Pinay nurse in UAE inspired by conversation with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A nurse from the Philippines who recently had the privilege to speak with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince said their conversation has inspired her to become "a better instrument of hope."
Filipina nurse Jessa Dawn Ubag in an Emirates News Agency (ENA) report published on Friday, May 28, that she considered her video conference with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as "a recognition of the Filipino community in the UAE along with all frontliners."
Ubag, who hails from Dumaguete City, is a 31-year-old a staff nurse at the Infectious Disease Unit of Rashid Hospital in Dubai. She had a conversation with Sheikh Mohamed in the third episode of the Sheikh’s virtual "majlis" on May 13.
In Arab culture, majlis is a casual venue where community members gather to discuss local events and issues, exchange news, receive guests and socialize.
"We believe that we are an instrument of hope to give spiritual, mental, and emotional support to our patients in time of despair. That’s why when Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince personally appreciated me, I felt he was recognizing all nurses for spreading hope," Ubag told the ENA on Friday.
"His words have inspired me and my fellow nurses to spread more hope to patients and community at large. We nurses felt that we are somewhat heroes in our own small way. It has inspired me to be a better nurse and a better instrument of hope," she added.
During the 3-minute video conference on May 13, Sheikh Mohamed first asked Ubag how she was doing, and then asked her to share her experience as a nurse in the UAE, and the lesson that all of them can derive from it.
Ubag told him about the time she took care of a 20-year-old COVID-19 patient throughout her 3-week recovery.
She told Sheikh Mohamed that wearing the personal protective equipment (PPE) for her entire 8-hour shift was exhausting at times "but I chose to enter the warzone with an unseen enemy because I believe this is my calling as a nurse, to be of great service to more people more needy than I am."
She said witnessing patients arriving at the hospital sick, and later getting discharged free of COVID-19 was to her "proof that there is always light at the end of a dark tunnel."
Then the Sheikh asked her about her family back home, Ubag said: "My mother is worried back home, but I constantly reassure her that I am perfectly fine. Her daily prayers for me helps me a lot and... is [my] driving force to face each day in my work."
To this, Sheikh Mohamed said: "Give her my best regard. Tell her you are with your second family."
On OFW's insights
Ubag said in the ENA report on Friday that she felt the "sincerity and thoughtfulness" of Sheikh Mohamed during their conversation.
"I admire his sincerity and thoughtfulness to ask about my family and wellbeing here. It was a nice experience to hear from him and to know that all our efforts during this pandemic are highly appreciated,"she said.
She also cited how the UAE government gives the same treatment to its citizens and foreigners.
"The idea of tolerance and accepting people of all nationalities from across the globe have created a social environment that resonates well with our professional values of compassion, empathy and caring to others," Ubag said.
"I got this opportunity despite being a foreigner. I am a Filipina and I felt it was a recognition to the Filipino community in the UAE along with all frontliners," she added.
She said the job of a nurse assigned to the infectious disease unit is risky but she and other nurses in her department support each other. They also assure their patients, "You are not alone; we are with you."
"When critically-ill patients get well and go home with a smile, expressing their heartfelt thanks, we realize the importance of our human touch in our job," Ubag said.
Ubag has been working at Rashid Hospital for 6 years. She moved to Dubai in 2014 after working in the Philippines for 3 years. Her older sister is a nurse in the United Kingdom.
Ubag, who is single, said her only dream is to start her own family, according to the ENA report.
According to the Filipino Nurses’ Association in the Emirates (FNAE), there are approximately over 20,000 Filipino nurses in the UAE working in the government and private sector, including homecare companies.
The group said the number of OFW nurses in the UAE represents approximately 60% of the overall total.
UAE hosts people from over 200 countries. There are around 750,000 documented OFWs in the UAE.
As of May 21, 48 OFWs died of COVID-19 here. – Rappler.com