Inside The World Of A Jordanian Nurse Doing Essential Work In The Pandemic
Samah Ibrahim Tanieub is at home on break between nursing shifts in the Jordanian capitol, Amman – two weeks on the COVID-19 isolation ward and then another two weeks in quarantine before she can come home.
The long shifts are particularly difficult for Tanieub because she’s a divorced single mother with four children, the youngest just five years old. The work doesn’t pay more than her regular salary of about $650 a month but she volunteered for COVID-19 duty and says she loves her job as a nurse.
Her routine at work now includes putting on an N-95 mask, a double layer of gloves, protective overalls and eye goggles that leave sweat running into her eyes. But she is known for her engaging bedside manner – so much so that thank-you letters from her patients prompted a public thank you from Jordan’s health minister.
“Sometimes you know patients are depressed and under stress – they’re in a room for 16 days – and lonely,” says Tuneiub, 33. “I talk with them and joke with them. I say think of me like your sister, or your daughter. If you want anything I am here.”
In Jordan and other Arab countries, many conservative families look down on nursing as a profession for their daughters because it requires contact with strange men and working nights. But the pandemic is beginning to change that perception.
“Many, many people say ‘thank you for working with corona patients’ even on the bus,” Tuneiub says. “I feel very good inside. It helps me respect myself also.”
For poor families like Tuneiub’s, nursing can be a step up. Tuneiub’s mother, Helima Deeb Salam