Inspiration From My Father
Born and raised in Mafraq, a small city in the Jordanian desert 80km north of the capital, Amman, my father was always extremely intelligent and hard-working. With all those lazy summers I spent on Jersey beaches, I was constantly being reminded of how he would always take his father's bike at the age of nine so he could cycle to a nearby town to paint and lay bricks just so he could bring home some extra income. And I could never go to a family holiday in Jordan without constantly hearing about how he had the highest score in the "tawjihi", the national state exam taken during the final year of school.
Once completing school, my father was awarded a scholarship to the USSR to study medicine and that is where he went. Soon after, he met my mother and within a few years they were married and returned to Jordan where he was quickly rising in the doctoral ranks. This is where my younger sister and I came into the picture.
I believe that this is when things changed for my father. A young family changed his outlook; he knew he had to provide the very best for his wife and children, even if that meant putting himself last.
He wanted to provide my sister and I with opportunities that he never had such as a good education in a land of equality, prosperity and political stability. Things not so readily available in the Middle East.
After several years, this opportunity arose in the United Kingdom but it did not come without its fair share of risk and sacrifice. Despite being a consultant in Jordan, my father would have to give up his prestige and importance and start right back anew on the job ladder. Thankfully, this far inferior role paid a considerable amount better- a further demonstration of the difference in state of affairs.
At the time, we did not have enough money for the whole family to go so my father would have to go alone, in the hope that we would be able to join him later. Not only would he have to leave us but his whole extended family of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins (and trust me there are a lot!) who make up such an essential part of Arab culture.
Despite being young at the time, I remember how much of a difficult decision this was for my parents with many a nights spent heatedly debating the topic but nonetheless they made the decision for him to go and soon enough he was moving into a minuscule 1 bedroom flat in the West of London where he knew nothing and no one, not even the language!
Despite the difficulties of being away from home, my father worked extremely hard. After just over a year had passed and my father had saved enough money for the my mother, my sister and me to join him. After impressing his superiors, a recommendation a year later had landed my father a further job raise which implicated a move to the Channel Islands. Here, he continued to work hard, persevere and rise but he soon reached a ceiling that prevented him from being a consultant.
This is where my father's story inspires me the most...
Despite having all of the necessary expertise and experience, my father was repeatedly over-looked for this position with the Royal College of Surgeons insisting that some of his qualifications held in Jordan do not transfer over. Some conspired to say that this was a discriminatory ploy to prevent foreigners from holding such influential roles but this did not stop my father.
At first, he decided to appeal the Royal College of Surgeons' decision. This was a lengthy and expensive process but the decision was not overturned. Then, he took the decision to court- even more lengthy and expensive- but yet the same result. My father would not be held down.
Despite nearing 50 years of age and a long time since med-school, he began working towards this qualification. On top of his ordinary gruelling hours, he studied relentlessly every night. Despite falling just short on two occasions, my father continued to bounce back and passed the written and oral examinations. But the process didn't stop there. The qualification also required a fellowship year and with that came the greatest deal of risk my father would ever face.
My sister and I were both at University and by this stage my parents had added another sibling to the mix. In addition to this, my family had mortgage payments to pay. The year's fellowship forced him to leave his current role and like last time; relocate. The difference this time is that he would be off to Cardiff and his annual salary would be cut in half. Like last time, my father had grown accustomed to a comfortable living situation with a loving family and a hot plate of dinner ready for him every night. Again, he would leave all that for loneliness and uncertainty where his ageing body would be expected to work the shifts of a young junior doctor in the hope that he can improve the situation for himself and his family.
Yet again, he persevered through the difficulties and attained this allusive qualification. He was appointed a consultant at Jersey General Hospital this summer and is currently in the process of establishing his own private practice. As a recent graduate, I hope I can show the same courage and perseverance as I embark upon my working life.