MAKKAH: School teacher Mohammed Al-Fifi has cancer and is currently in hospital undergoing chemotherapy – it’s also where he teaches his students.
The cancer is a challenge in itself, and few would question him if he told his bosses he was too ill to work – especially with the added threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the dream of returning to the classroom and seeing his students has helped to get him through the grueling treatments he receives on his path to recovery.
And the pandemic has helped ensure he can teach sooner than he previously thought, thanks to a video link connecting him to his students from his hospital room in Saudi Arabia.
“Teachers are responsible for the biggest and most noble of jobs, and under no circumstances are they allowed to disregard their duties,” he said.
Al-Fifi, 37, is a third-grade Arabic language teacher at Abu Omar Al-Dany Elementary in Riyadh’s Al-Uraija Al-Gharbiyah area.
In May, doctors told him they had found cancer in his lymph nodes, and he was admitted to the hospital soon after to begin chemotherapy.
Four treatments later, he is doing well but faces a long, hard battle.
“Virtual learning allowed me to regain some strength, despite my illness, and I feel like I’m back on my own two legs in my classroom, moving between my students’ desks to observe their work,” he said.
Although he was delighted to see them again, he admits it was an emotional and challenging experience both for him and the youngsters.
“Seeing my students for the first time was extremely stressful and difficult from my end and theirs,” he said. “My students noted my physical changes and I could see the sadness on their faces. It’s difficult for all of us.”
As he continues his treatment, Al-Fifi said the support he has received from the Ministry of Education, his colleagues and the students has helped to keep his spirits up and get through this tough time.