From the first day I started volunteering at the Maliheh Clinic I noticed a phenomenon that I could sense, but not articulate. As I continued to watch the staff and volunteers interact with patients I finally was able to define what I was feeling.
The majority of our patients are “invisible.” By this, I mean that they go through life with people looking over them, around them or through them. Our patients may be the ones serving you at a fast food restaurant or cleaning your office building at night. They are the people we may address perfunctorily while looking down to count our change, but they are the ones we don’t look in the eye and see as human beings, nor could we describe them five minutes after we leave the counter.
At Maliheh, these individuals are not invisible. Every medical provider, every staff member or volunteer looks each person in the eye and speaks to them as a unique individual. We care about them and their families and we demonstrate that not only with medical skills, but with our body language and our respect. We value them. We teach them and we learn from them.
I’m convinced that even if we weren’t providing excellent medical care, these patients would leave our clinic feeling better than when they arrived, because they were seen, treated and respected for who they are…fellow human beings with the same dreams for their families that we have. We are probably one of the few places where many of these people are recognized this way.