Leaders with Human Touch

I had an interesting encounter this week, after His Majesty  the King’s speech  at the opening of the fourth session of the third legislative term at Shaikh Isa Cultural Hall . And I think it is worth sharing with the readers.

After the end of his address, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, along the other top leaders of this country, was receiving the people. And I waited for my turn to greet him.

After greeting His Majesty – who, as always, warmly inquired about my family – and prior to my paying respects to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who has always been a source of inspiration to me,  I had the opportunity to thank His Royal Highness Prime Minister  Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa for his one special gesture.

But to tell you about that gesture, I must take you back a few days, when our paper, the DT News,  published a sad story.

We had written about a  51-year-old Filipino national Gerry Cahapay, seeking financial assistance to fix an artificial limb as he had lost 80 per cent of his leg due to gangrene. 

As a gym instructor living in Bahrain for the past three and a half years, Gerry  has been supporting his family of six, who were living in the Philippines. As he was the sole breadwinner for his family, they were all in grave need of his support. And the tragedy of his losing a limb shook up the entire family.

Gerry said he was determined to continue his job here after fixing an artificial limb because, according to doctors, he can lead a normal life once the artificial limb gets fixed.

However, the cost required for the treatment and artificial limb  was ‘well beyond the budget’ of an ordinary expatriate.

That morning, after the publication of this story in our newspaper, I was in for a surprise.

I got a call from my long time friend and Assistant Undersecretary for Information and Follow Up at HRH the Prime Minister’s Court, Dr. Ebrahim Al Dossary saying that HRH the Premier, from his personal funds, will bear all the expenses needed for the complete treatment of the Filipino national.

He mentioned to me that the Prime Minister had read the tragic story in our newspaper, and had instructed him to call me, and to make arrangements for Gerry Cahapay’s help.

It was, therefore, for this special gesture, of helping the gym instructor, that I thanked the Prime Minister when I met him this week.

But he said, ‘No, I should thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve’. He said that he was glad that newspapers like ours are able to bring to light the plight of some unfortunate people, so that they can be reached and served.

I felt more touched by his words now, than how touched I felt when his office quickly helped the poor man who had lost his limb.

I must admit I felt proud when he said that he regularly reads our newspaper.

But I felt prouder still when I realized that I am living in a country where its leadership respects its expatriate workforce so much so that even individual cases attract the attention of its kind leaders.

As an expatriate myself, I am genuinely overwhelmed by the concern and compassion displayed by this country’s leadership not only towards its citizens, but also towards its non-Bahraini workers.

It is no wonder then that a grateful Gerry Cahapay, who received help, had these words to say: “I am hopeful again, and I am extremely thankful for being in such an honourable country that has generous leadership and generous people. Had I been living somewhere else, I wouldn’t have received such kindness.”

“I am very optimistic about the upcoming period, and believe that I will be able to work again. Though it has been almost three months since I have sent any funds to my family members, I am hopeful, the future will be better.”  

And now, I am hopeful too, that Bahrain’s future will be better than before. With kind and benevolent leaders that this country has, the only way ahead is a way better than the past.