Dr Amara Ilyas, 37, received a scholarship from the CARE Foundation to complete her medical qualifications. She works as an Assistant Consultant at King Fahad Specialist Hospital, Saudi Arabia.
I grew up in Lahore and went to a government school – the attitude of the teachers to students was inappropriate. Then CARE stepped in and adopted the school. The biggest change was children were treated with respect and care.
In 1993, my father passed away. At that time, because of the financial crisis in Pakistan, he was searching for a job. He had a small business, which was not running very well, and suddenly had a heart attack. My mother and brother supported me. My mother worked very hard, selling shoes in a local market. She is a very brave woman.
We were facing severe financial crises back then. CARE Foundation awarded me a scholarship to complete my studies, and that was a big support for me during those difficult times.
I graduated in 2010 from Fatima Jinnah Medical College in Pakistan. In 2017, I completed my postgrad in physical medicine and rehabilitation from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Pakistan.
Today, I am a medical doctor, with over ten years’ experience. Currently, I am working in Saudi Arabia at King Fahad Specialist Hospital, as an assistant consultant in rehabilitation medicine. Shortly, I am moving to the UK for a registrar post at Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopedic Hospital in Shropshire.
The reason I chose to specialize in rehabilitation is that I have a disability in my right leg from Polio. There is a stigma around it in our society. So, to overcome that stigma my mother told me that I had to study, to become empowered, and help other people. She has been the driving force behind me.
I am moving to the UK to learn all I can in a developed country and receive training to excel in my field.
My ultimate goal is to then come back to Pakistan and open a rehabilitation centre, because disability is a really big issue in Pakistan, and people do not know where to go for help. I see myself as a role model to my patients as I wear a shoe raise, and show them, and say, if I am wearing one, you can too! It is breaking down stigmas.
Now is the time that people should realise how important an education is, especially for girls, they need to be independent and be empowered.
I am hoping that Pakistan will shine in the future, and the women in our society will be in a better place. Education teaches you ethics, it helps determine the right direction to achieve one’s goals.
A leading educational non-profit foundation, CARE Foundation, is supporting 1,000