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Nursing the sick with a smile at 73

Saturday, September 25, 2010 10:52:46 AM, Charles Tabbu

Concha Paras with Sheikh Abdullah Ahmed Sayed Bugshan, owner of Bugshan Hospital.

(Photo: Yhani Blancha Sabornido)

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Jeddah: At first sight of her, you might think you are seeing the living Mother Teresa, the Albanian nun who has become an inspiration for many people for her charity work in India. Everybody in the hospital where she works calls her Mommy Concha. Even the owners of the hospital where she works, her coworkers, visitors and patients call her the same. It's not because of her age or her looks, but rather her chemistry with the people around her. She treats everybody as her sons and daughters, including the owners.

A native of the island of Mindoro in the central Philippines, Concha Paras, now 73, was a single mother of four who decided to try her luck to work abroad 28 years ago to support her children. At Bugshan Hospital in Jeddah, she started as a housekeeper and after completing the probationary period of three months was promoted to assistant nurse.

Despite her age, she is still working as a medical staff at the hospital, which was just a few years old when she joined it. She is still very much focused in her work: preparing schedules, following up medical records and assisting patients and co-staff. She is also adept at working with computers.

"My children are my inspiration. They are my priceless gift. They are the source of my strength," says Paras, recalling the days when she struggled to feed and clothe her young children.

"Even at my age now, I am inspired by them. Now I am happy to see them as grown-up professionals with their own families," she added.

Mommy Concha herself is an inspiration to many of those who know her. People of different nationalities, especially Saudis, are known to make it a point to see her when they visit the hospital. Ever the caring mother, she spends a lot of her time in the hospital caring for people.

Among her huge fans is Abdul Ghaffar, a Pakistani.

"We never missed to pay a visit to Mommy Concha. My kids and my wife knows her very well. Visiting her is like visiting your own mother," he said.

Her exemplary behavior and loyalty to her work has gained the respect of his employers. "When I was very young, I only knew Mommy Concha. Even my children, they love Mommy Concha. The whole family calls her Mama. She is treated as one of the family members of Bugshan," said Ahmad Ali Bugshan, one of the owners of hospital.

In an interview, Ahmad Ali Bughsan said that while Paras has long reached the age of retirement, they allow her to continue working because it is her passion.

"Mama is No. 1," he said, adding that even if she does not come to work and needs to stay at home, she continues to get salary, housing allowance and other entitlements.

Paras, on the other hand, said she was just returning the kindness the Bugshans had shown her and other workers. She said the family is known for humbleness and love for others, regardless of nationality, an observation shared by another expat, Abduljabbar Tamanor.

"All my children were born here. The Bugshan family assisted me in times of need, especially when my children were born. They are a family with good heart. That is one of the reasons I am with this institution for 22 years," Tamanor said.

Paras says she has become used to the affection and attention of her colleagues. "Even people I do not know, when they see me, they approach me and kiss my hands and my forehead. That is probably the reason they sometimes call me Mother Teresa," she said.

It's quite easy to mistake Paras, now a Muslim, for a nun. Whenever she speaks, she always emphasizes the essence of the love of God.

"I am always thankful to God and my employers that I was given a chance to render service in this hospital. I reciprocate that with my dedication and love to them," she added.


(Courtesy: Arab News)




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