Letter written by Dr. Mary Bruins Allison to her family during the early months of her career as a medical missionary, describing her first case.
Why It Matters
When Dr. Allison first arrived in Kuwait, she spent much of her time learning Islamic and Arabic culture, and did not do a great deal of medical work. However, she worked closely with a male doctor, Dr. Myrlea, who sent her to visit the sheikh’s wife when she was ill, as the sheikh's wife did not want a male doctor. Dr. Allison describes some of the difficulties of treating purdah (the practice of concealing women and segregating them from men) women and also the difficulties of navigating a new culture.
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Analyze this evidence
- Purdah women were not often allowed to leave the house unless a male family member accompanied them. Are there other reasons the sheikh’s wife may have refused to go to the hospital?
- Do you think making house calls were more stressful for medical missionaries than working at a clinic or hospital? Why or why not?
- Why does Dr. Allison say it is “tricky” to treat the sheikh’s wife? Other than the queen’s health, what are the consequences if something goes wrong?