(MENAFN - Arab News) A leading educationist and an important member of the tightly-knit Indian expatriate community in the Eastern Province is leaving the Kingdom after serving as a family and community medicine expert for 31 years at Dammam University's College of Medicine.
Dr. Parveen Rasheed, a mother of three adult, Western-educated children, is expected to join a prestigious research institute in the United States. A native of Gwalior, she studied and taught at the famous Aligarh Muslim University before coming to Saudi Arabia in 1977.
At a series of events organized in her honor, she recalled her long and memorable association with the community and the Indian schools in Dammam and Jubail.
As wife of the international award-winning researcher at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), the late Rasheeduz Zafar, she became a household name among the large and diverse Indian community in the Eastern Province.
"When Rasheed Bhai died in a tragic road accident in November 1994, she weathered the deep personal tragedy with remarkable calm and fortitude and committed herself to her husband's ultimate goal of making a difference in the lives of Indians in Saudi Arabia," said Mukarram Ali Khan, a close family friend and a respected alumnus of India's Aligarh Muslim University.
Speaking at a well-attended farewell function organized by the north Indian community in Alkhobar at the weekend, Rasheed could barely hide her emotions.
"It is indeed a very sad moment for me to bid farewell to a community that I knew for 35 years," she said. "A chapter of my life ends and new horizons await. As I look over all the faces of friends, I consider myself really blessed."
The late Rasheeduz Zafar is widely credited with establishing the two community schools in Dammam and Jubail which have now grown into leading educational institutes.
In a voice that quivered with emotions, Rasheed admitted that leading a life all by herself for the last 18 years since her husband died was extremely challenging.
"I have no words to thank you for your kindness extended to me from time to time and it is this special care and love from you all that allowed me to stay in this country for all these years," she said. "At times when things were not as good, you all were there; when I was sick, you were there; when I needed a car ride, you were there; when I needed any help, you were there."
Among those who listened to her remarks were well-known members of the community such as Dr. Jamil Ahmad Qureshy, Shariq Jamal Shamsi, Anis Bakhsh, Parvez Qader Askari, Dr. Nafis-ul-Hasan, Syed Abdallah Rizvi, Shoaib Ahmad Quraishi, Azeem Warsi, Rahat Sultan, Shoaib Nagrami, Syed Kidwai, Arshad Anwar, Taj Haider, Feroz Fazal, Javed Hafeez, Naushad Ali and Nida Jamil.
"Thank you for being my traveling companions along a large and important part of my life's journey. The enormous collection of shared experiences with each one of you is and will remain indelibly printed on my mind," she said.
Recalling the contribution of expatriates to the development of Saudi Arabia, she said: "Though we made our contributions to the local people - for me it was educating the young Saudi minds and providing medical care - we also had an opportunity to grow professionally, intellectually and socially."
A separate farewell function at the Indian school in Dammam was attended by members of the managing committee led by Chairman Thirunavu-kkarassu K. M., Principal E. K. Mohammed Shaffe and Girls' Section Principal Incharge Lt. Col. J.A. Rocque.
She described the institution as a mosaic of diverse activities.
"The academic results speak for themselves," said Rasheed. "The community owes this to the efforts, dedication, inspiration, motivation and competence of the team of teachers supported by the leadership of
the section heads and principals."