Dr Ahmed’s Work

Ahmed sat at his desk and flicked through his old research papers: years of studies, each one edging a little nearer to a cure. They were so close.

He stretched his muscles, tight from another long working day, and studied the faces in his bundle of creased photos. All were lost to him, victims of the evil that had crushed their homeland: Mother and Father, Maryam on their wedding day, their boys. Only he and little Zaina had escaped, and his work now was just for her.

Tomorrow he would drive buses, then clean offices. Zaina would graduate next year.

Copyright - Ron Pruitt

Copyright – Ron Pruitt


This picture led me, eventually, to think of the many highly qualified and skilled people from troubled countries, who have come to my country, and others like it, to escape danger or persecution in their own. I teach such people, helping them to gain the language to find work as bus or taxi drivers, waiters, shopworkers, cleaners – honest, necessary occupations. However, how sad it is that their skills as doctors, engineers or accountants will probably be wasted. 

This story is my contribution to Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

27 thoughts on “Dr Ahmed’s Work

    • Thank you, Rochelle. It’s sad that more of us can’t allow ourselves to be moved by the stories of migrants and refugees. My work has allowed me to get to know quite a lot of them as individuals, and for the most part, I’m amazed by their determination and courage. Margaret.


  1. This reminds me of an article I heard on NPR last week. The man, who had been a pharmacist in his own country, is now a janitor. The sorrow in his voice was heart breaking, also the pride at being able to support his daughters and wife in a new land. You caught that feeling very well.


    • Thank you, Alicia. I’m encouraged by your comment. We would all benefit so much if somehow governments would find a way to allow the talents of newcomers to be properly employed instead of placing bureaucratic obstacles in their way.


    • You’ve hit the nail on the head, Bjorn. Prejudice, inefficiency and bureaucracy will never be overcome, I fear. And I guess it is understandable that receiving countries become overwhelmed – especially those who open their arms a little wider than the rest. But we can’t stop trying, and we can’t stop caring.


    • I suspect there are thousands of similar stories. I can’t believe there isn’t a way to tap into all that talent. I understand the need for caution and safeguards in respect of maintaining standards in qualifications, but surely, with oversight or some kind of supervision, these people’s skills could be utilised. It’s not as though we have an over-supply of professionals – I know how long we have to wait for medical appointments in Australia.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It must be so frustrating for highly trained refugees not to be able to work in their field. Perhaps after he has finished putting Zaina through school he can do the necessary work/schooling to get his own qualifications recognised. Such selflessness but such a waste.


  3. Your story puts a face and emotion into the stream of refugees we see in the news. From a distance, they resemble an endless herd. Thanks for reminding us that inside each one is a unique individual with hopes and dreams similar to our own.


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