x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

'I was active then dependent on others'

The experience of a man's elderly father inspires him to launch his own private nursing company.

Jeruy Greg working as a nurse helping Mohammed Kazim Habib at his home in Ajman.
Jeruy Greg working as a nurse helping Mohammed Kazim Habib at his home in Ajman.

Years of fatigue can be heard in Mohammed Kazim Habib's voice when he talks about the stroke he suffered seven years ago.

It caused paralysis of the right side of his body, yet what really troubles the 78-year-old is the loss of his independence.

"The situation took me by complete surprise," he said. "To go from being active to being so dependent on others, unable to move or eat on my own, it shocked me."

Mr Habib moved here from Syria in 1967, before the creation of the UAE, and used to be the senior preacher for Awqaf in Ajman.

He also founded Al Ihsan Charity Centre, a non-profit organisation in Ajman that assists the poor and distressed.

The experiences of Mr Habib and his family in coping with his stroke inspired his son, Atallah, to launch a private nursing company.

"For nearly six months after the stroke, everyone in the family was responsible for taking care of him," said Atallah. "Everyone had a role to play and would take turns.

"Many times they would call me while I was at work and I'd have to leave the office to tend to him."

Atallah, 52, searched in vain for resources to help his father and soon realised the community's need for a home care service.

"I was sure there were many others in a similar position who also needed help," he said.

He then launched Al Hilal Private Nursing and Medical Services.

But even though he hired round-the-clock help, family members still go the extra mile to ensure their loved one is cared for.

Mr Habib's wife, Nabiha, has dedicated much of the past decade to tending to her husband.

"He can't sit up straight or move - it becomes a particular challenge when we need to change the sheets," she said. "Sometimes he won't let you move him or he'll start shouting back. It's not always a one-person job."

She insists she has no regrets, despite these difficulties.

"For seven years I have cut off all communication with people just so that I can be by his side," she said. "But he always stood by our side when we needed him and now it's our turn to do the same."

mismail@thenational.ae