Jammu and Kashmir IRCS volunteer Uzma Farooq talks about her first volunteering assignment

I have been associated with the Red Cross since 2012. Soon after registering myself as a volunteer, I received a phone call from the Red Cross office in Srinagar requesting me to visit SMHS hospital to take care of a woman who was admitted there but didn’t have any family or friend to nurse her. When I entered the ward, I saw a woman lying on a bed, looking very anxious and worried. I walked up to her and introduced myself as a Red Cross volunteer.

My ward’s name was Aisha and she was from New Delhi. She told me she had been visiting Kashmir with some friends. She was scheduled to return to Delhi that day but she took ill — her blood pressure shot up — and she was admitted to the hospital for treatment. Her friends, presumably, went ahead with their journey.

Seeing how agitated she was, I tried to soothe her nerves. I explained to her that she had no reason to worry as I would attend to her needs in the daytime. She was relieved to hear this and a gentle smile broke out on her distraught face. I also helped call up her family on the phone. After speaking to them, she felt reassured and I convinced her not to worry or come to the Valley unless the doctor so advised.

Having calmed her down, I sat next to Aisha to watch over her. As I looked around the ward, I realised all the other patients had either a family member or a friend attending to them — all the more reason for Aisha to feel bereft of care and attention. She was a stranger to me but being able to dispel her anxiety and taking care of her gave me a strange sense of fulfilment.

I was lost in my reverie when the doctor doing the rounds came up to Aisha’s bed. He examined her and prescribed some medicines. I went out to buy the medicines for her and also bought her some food.

Then I sat on her bedside and we talked like old friends. Before I realized, it was evening and time for me to go. Aisha was feeling better by then. She was finding it hard to express her gratitude to me for taking care of her. I felt quite bad about leaving her alone in the hospital and going home. We were struggling with our emotions. Suddenly I heard a voice: “Are you Uzma?” I turned around to see a young man who explained that he too was a Red Cross volunteer and had been deputed on night duty to take care of Aisha. Relieved that she had someone to attend to her needs, I left the hospital.

Back home, I kept thinking about Aisha all night. It was my first experience as a Red Cross volunteer. I felt very happy that I had made Aisha’s time in the hospital comfortable and made her feel cared for at a time when she was alone and anxious. I am thankful to the Red Cross for providing me this opportunity to help someone in need.

ICRC New Delhi