The eighth episode of the podcast Our Voices provides a powerful insight into a woman’s journey from a timid college student to a confident nurse.
Two life-changing incidents during her time growing up in India shaped Resma’s destiny: the first being her reaction to the collapse of an old man in the street. While others rushed to his aid, she felt herself freeze: a reaction which prevented her from helping the man. The second incident occurred while she was at college, she was witness to a man who had decided to take his own life by throwing himself off a bridge. His badly fractured body lay directly in front of her, devoid of life, and its image has haunted her ever since: “I was shocked, I was standing there, I couldn’t do anything.”
Both incidents left Resma feeling helpless, there was nothing that she had been able to do to help the people whose suffering she had directly witnessed. However, she vowed that this was something she would not experience again: “from that day, I decided I had to do something to save people’s lives.”
As a result, Resma became a nurse. She began her career in India but moved to Abu Dhabi in order to make a better living. But, although the pay was ten times more than she had got used to back home, her position in the country lacked stability and so she came to the UK to work in the NHS.
Resma describes how she had mentally prepared herself for the racism which she had been told she would experience here, but, 5 months into her stay, she describes British people as “sweet, down-to-earth and and always polite”. One challenge she has observed about British life, however, is the division that exists within families. She describes caring for a woman post-surgery who was experiencing depression due to the fact that she was socially isolated “no-one was calling her”. Resma took it upon herself to treat the patient with kindness and consideration. She reassured the patient about her health and talked to her to find out about her interests and hobbies. Once she discovered that the patient liked reading, she went and bought her a book, an act which immediately lifted the patient’s mood. Through what was a relatively small action, the patient discovered that there was someone who cared about her and this made all the difference. So much so that the patient cried upon leaving the hospital as she knew how much she would miss Resma’s care and attention.
Resma’s story teaches us that it is possible to turn traumatic experiences into something positive, that it is possible to break the cycle of suffering in order to help people to heal. In Resma’s own words: “I can make a bad situation into a good one because I have a positive mind…I never say I can’t, I always say I can.”
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