“By sharing my medical knowledge and expertise to contribute to the improvement of health care in Afghanistan, I added meaning to my everyday work.”
Name: Niloufar Rahim
Profession: Medical Doctor
Country of Origin: Afghanistan
Lived in the Netherlands since: 1997
When you think of Afghanistan, you probably think of war and misery. But Afghanistan is also a country of promises and Afghans across the globe work very hard to realize those promises. The Netherlands also has a very committed Afghan diaspora.
Take Niloufar Rahim, for example; she is a doctor, chairwoman of the Afghan-Dutch Foundation KEIHAN and made it her life’s work to rebuild Afghanistan.
Niloufar regularly goes back. Since 2014, IOM has enabled her to provide medical skills training to students and doctors in Afghanistan. These cover essential skills in surgery and emergency medicine. “For me, it was a dream come true. Since I have been in the Netherlands, I wanted to be able to mean something for the country with which my heart will remain connected. In my profession, I dedicate myself wholeheartedly to society. I really enjoy doing that, otherwise, you will not opt for healthcare.”
Contributing to the development of a country like Afghanistan is challenging. “You start with small steps and that requires patience.” Reconstructing a war-torn country is anything but simple. Education and healthcare are the pillars of a healthy society, which is why Niloufar is tirelessly committed to contribute to their improvement. “We as diaspora can contribute much more easily because of our close affinity with Afghan culture and language.”
The Netherlands has many doctors with an Afghan background who give back to their country of origin. “Through knowledge transfer and practical training, we make a big impact on education and healthcare. Clinical skills cannot only be learned from a book. In order to act adequately and efficiently as a doctor, you need a lot of practical training.
Niloufar’s patience and dedication allowed her to achieve a lot. Together with other doctors of KEIHAN Foundation, she has trained hundreds of medical students to prepare them for work in hospitals and their future professional career. In addition, dozens of trainers have been trained in two provinces, who will continue the programmes in Niloufar’s absence.
“What touches me most?
The abundant enthusiasm and perseverance with which the students work and learn. Despite the inhumane circumstances, filled with pain and sorrow, they continue to think positively. They continue to believe strongly in a better future for Afghanistan and are willing to work hard for it. That is why, together with other Afghan Dutch diaspora, I try to assist them by increasing the cooperation between Dutch and Afghan hospitals and universities. In this way, I hope that we can continue to support each other.”
photography by Kristie Wernink