Shahabai is the head nurse at CRHP’s Julia Hospital. If you visit the Hospital, her presence is unavoidable, she is always making sure patients are being taken care of, and she ensures everything is in order. She has been with CRHP for so long that she jokes about not remembering what her life was like before joining CRHP, before giving her heart to the Organization. Lately, Julia Hospital has been the site of surgical camps made possible by the association between CRHP and the Freedom from Poverty Foundation and Gicam. Shahabai talks about how she views her changing role, the importance of the camps, and how it all fits into the CRHP goal of “health for all”.
- How long have you been working with CRHP?
I started working at the Comprehensive Rural Health Project in 1985 after a tragic traffic accident where my only child and husband passed away. I was devastated. After speaking with Drs. Raj and Mabelle Arole, I decided it was best for me to come to CRHP and be trained as a surgical nurse. It gave my life purpose.
- How was that transition from being a wife to becoming a nurse?
My life and my family’s lives changed for the better when I joined CRHP. The Aroles were so supportive. Dr. Arole taught me so many skills; he taught me a lot about how to treat patients and about curative and preventative healthcare.
- What has changed the most since you started working here?
(Laughs) So much, the hospital is new. Also the types of patients have changed. Before we had many more patients with preventable diseases. Now we have the camps with different surgeries and cases. We are now capable of helping many more people.
- I have seen you work so hard during the camps, what do you think about the past two surgical camps we just had?
It is hard work but my father told me, “Shahabai, you need to work with your hands.” I feel very connected to the patients, as if they are my family, and that is how I am able to keep going. I learn so much during the camps because there are so many unique operations. So far, all operations have been successful; there have been no complaints, and I am proud of that.
- Do you have any favorite moments from the past two camps?
The burn victims touch me very much. Many of them were hopeless, and after the surgeries, they are so happy and excited to continue with their lives. One patient, who because of her injuries couldn’t lift her head up, told me how excited she was to finally be able to see the stars, and that really moved me.
In her 30 plus years of service, Shahabai still continues to expand on her depth of knowledge about nursing and rural healthcare, and she is grateful for the opportunity to work for CRHP and the community and to help educate the next generation of women that will continue the fight for a healthier India.