Nov 2, 2009
Gertrude Dyck worked with The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) at Oasis Hospital for 38 years, from 1962 until her retirement from TEAM in 2000. Over those years she made many friends, both among the local people and from among her colleagues. A number of those colleagues are still here at the hospital. She died in her native Canada in October of 2009 at the age of 75.
During her many years at Oasis Hospital, Gertrude became affectionately known by the local people whom she served, as "Doctora Latifa". Latifa in Arabic is a word with deep meaning - gentle, merciful and kind. In the days immediately following her death, a number of local people who remember Gert's sacrificial service done in the love and compassion of Jesus Christ conveyed their condolences. The articles in both the English and Arabic papers, published here at the news of her passing, are yet another tribute to the lasting impression Gertrude Dyck made upon this land. You can read the articles in The National (the English paper) and Al Ittihad (in Arabic).
In recent years, Gertrude Dyck was officially recognized by the Health Authority for her service here. She also received two of Canada's highest honors for her work in the UAE: the prestigious Order of Canada and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal. In addition, the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi was planning to bring her back for the dedication of the Doctora Latifa library there, which will still be dedicated in her honor very soon.
Gertrude Dyck will be missed by many people here. Her passing brings us nearer to the end of an era -- that of those pioneers who came to the UAE before oil and wealth, serving the needs of a people whose population was in decline due to a lack of even the basics of modern healthcare. Additionally, one of her biggest contributions to Oasis Hospital, and the people here, is the photographs she took. The pictures she took of her life, her friends, and Oasis Hospital's growth and development now serve as an historical archive of the rapid changes the UAE has seen in the last 40 years.
Ultimately it was the way she served the people with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ that stands out to people as they think about "Doctora Latifa."