Despite the fact that Samah Kahn, 28, has a background in medicine, she’s concerned about how she will find a job due to the current pandemic.
Kahn was born in Punjab, India, and is currently living in Glasgow, Scotland. She is working on her dissertation for her master’s in public health at Glasgow Caledonian University. Her student visa will expire in September of this year. While she had hoped to stay after graduation, Kahn said that she hasn’t been able to find any job openings in her field due to the pandemic.
“They’re either looking for nurses or doctors,” said Kahn, “I’m not registered in the general medical council, so I can’t even offer any kind of medical help. I would do it for free if I could.”
Kahn is a graduate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, which she attended at the Bahrain campus. She had planned to practice medicine, but her struggles with her disabilities forced her to change her plans.
Kahn has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome—also known as EDS—a genetic condition that weakens the body’s connective tissues, as well as fibromyalgia. Both disorders affect her mobility, to the point where she must use a cane to get around. Her doctors have encouraged her to use a wheelchair, or at least a walker.
In addition to hindering her job search and her hopes of remaining in Scotland, Kahn has also struggled with her ongoing treatment of her disabilities due to the pandemic. For example, an appointment at her pain clinic, which she scheduled months ago, was postponed and then canceled entirely.
Her family currently lives in Qatar, and she will likely return there if she cannot find a job before her visa expires. But, if she returns, getting back to Scotland will become much more difficult.
“With an Indian passport, it’s so hard,” Kahn said, “because they want to keep you out of the country so badly that they make it really difficult, they put you at the bottom of the list.”
According to Kahn, it’s much easier for people from European and other western countries to get work visas in the United Kingdom than it is for non-westerners, especially people from India and Pakistan. People who are already living in the country are also given preference for work visas.
“If they pick me while I’m not living here,” said Kahn, “it’s only because there’s literally nobody else they could’ve picked.”
This is a huge blow to Kahn, who has dreamed of living in Scotland since she was a child. In the time she’s spent living here so far, she feels like she’s finally found a place where people treat her like she belongs.
Though Kahn was born in India, she spent most of her life in Saudi Arabia until she was 21. She attended school in Bahrain and has lived in Qatar. She says she’s been treated as a second-class citizen everywhere she’s ever lived, either due to being an ex-pat or because she’s Muslim. When she visits India, she says, people often refuse to believe that she’s Indian. In particular, she remembers a woman who once argued that, since her name was Kahn, she couldn’t be from Punjab.
“What she actually meant,” said Kahn, “is ‘you’re Muslim, so you’re not one of us.’”