A Syrian doctor who made Perth her home has swapped her stethoscope for shopkeeping.
Mariana Tayar moved to the Fair City just a year and a half ago after graduating with a medical degree back home in Syria.
But when she moved to Perth and married her husband, a fellow Syrian doctor, she had to start all over again in order to practise medicine in Scotland.
Having qualified in Arabic, Mariana now has to relearn all her medical terms in English and sit three more exams before she is allowed to practise medicine in the UK.
But she was still keen to use her skills here and has found herself working in Ninewells gift shops.
The kind 24-year-old has clocked up more than 100 hours of volunteering in Ninewells and was recently presented with the Saltire Award for her efforts. The Saltire Award is a Scottish Government youth initiative which celebrates the volunteering achievements of young people.
Mariana said: “As a doctor, your goals are to help others.
“If I cannot practise medicine now then I want to help others in another way.”
Mariana originally started volunteering by helping make tea and coffee for Ninewells patients in Ward 18.
However, having just arrived in the UK, she lacked confidence speaking English and felt sad that she wasn’t able to engage in the long conversations with patients that other volunteers could.
It was then suggested Mariana help in the Ninewells gift shops.
Fundraising officer for Tayside Health Fund, Gillian Moran, who manages Ninewells’ two gift shops said: “Mariana’s great. She does work over and beyond here – doing extra shifts.
“She does the bulk of the volunteering. We are very grateful to her.
Mariana admitted: “I did not think I would like it here but everyone is so friendly and helpful. Gillian has been so supportive and flexible. It feels like my second home.”
When Mariana isn’t in Ninewells she’s at home with her nose in medical textbooks. She said:”I just sat an exam in Glasgow for my visa extension and I passed with distinction. That was a real confidence boost.”
Marianna still gets home to visit her family who live in a safer part of Syria, far away from the war-torn city of Aleppo.
She said: “I lived in a village in Syria. Scotland is not that different from Syria – it’s just colder.”
The generosity of Mariana and others volunteering in the gift shops and all their customers helped Tayside Health Fund raise £51,940.99 for NHS Tayside last year.
Some of the money raised has gone towards blackout blinds for the Centre for Brain Injury at Royal Victoria Hospital and buying televisions for the Clinical Investigations Unit in Ninewells.