Ramadan in UAE: This school doctor takes extra care for her students, family
Dr Sarah Mandalawi swings into action when a student or colleague falls ill at school
Every day, Dr Sarah Mandalawi checks on students and school staff, ensuring they’re well and do not have symptoms of respiratory illness. In case anyone turns up with Covid symptoms, she notifies her colleagues right away. For her, it’s daily routine — but for the school community, it’s a role that has become more important now than ever.
Dr Mandalawi, who hailed from Baghdad, Iraq, joined the GEMS Al Barsha National just a few months ago, as the UAE government has made it mandatory for schools to have a medical director, who is usually a doctor, along with nurses. “I have to really thank the government and the school administration for bringing in such strict protocols to ensure better management of the pandemic.”
She also oversees the contact-tracing and alerts the authorities and students’ parents in case of positive cases. Beyond medical procedures, she also educates the staff and students on Covid measures and highlight the importance of getting vaccinated.
The duty, she said, is not always easy. “We are always wearing PPE kits which play an important role in protecting us. That being said, the stress is always there, especially as the students who are sick could turn up positive later. Also, it is more of a concern among children. Many a times, dealing with parents is a challenge. When we request a PCR, we need to convince them because the first instinct of a lot of parents is to say no,” she added.
Dr Mandalawi spent her entire life in the UAE. “My family has been here for over 20 years, since I was in Grade 2.” A graduate of the Rosary School in Abu Dhabi, she completed her MBBS from the University of Sharjah.
This Ramadan, she wakes up at 6am for work, taking a short nap after Suhoor.
“I work till 2pm and get back home, take a shower, and help my mum prepare the day’s Iftar.” Since she lives with her aged parents, Dr Mandalawi takes extra precautions to ensure that the family is safe and healthy.
Iftar is strictly a family affair for the Mandalawi family. “We don’t go out anywhere since the pandemic or organise family gatherings. My brother who lives nearby comes to visit often, but we don’t share food,” she said.
For Iftar, soup is mandatory. “We start off with dates with tahina on top. We have some juices and ‘marak’, a form of sauce added to the rice. We have ‘kheema’ and fish and sometimes we make pasta and roasted chicken with rice. We have desserts once in a week, not too often, because my dad is a diabetic,” she said.
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