Dr. Stella Luche, also known as Dr. Maria Estela Canete Luche by her colleagues and her patients, is still sharing the value of smile to her grateful patients and serving the citizens in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The Cebu native is the first and only Filipino dentist working at the Ministry of Health and one of the Kingdom’s most respected experts in her field.
She has been recognized by both Bahraini and Filipino communities in the country, as the lone Filipino doctor in the Ministry.
But before her success in the Kingdom, Dr. Maria had to endure a long journey from the Philippines.
Right after graduating as Doctor of Dental Medicine at the Southwestern University in Cebu City, she dreamed of expanding her boundaries and exploring what the world has to offer.
Dr. Maria then decided to become a stewardess and travel the globe.
“Back in the day, I was already interested in becoming a stewardess and that ambition occurred after I became a full pledged dentist,” Dr. Maria told the Filipino Life.
“I thought that this is my chance to travel and to see the world before engaging myself with a private practice,” she added.
She became a flight attendant for Gulf Air, where she met her now husband, Mr. Hadi Marzooq, a Bahraini. They got married, blessed with four kids, and finally settled in the Kingdom.
But her journey did not stop there. As soon as she got her citizenship, she struggled to get a license to practice as dentist in the country.
Not all, especially Filipinos, are able to obtain the license because of its authoritarian standard to pass other nationalities.
“It is really hard to pass the license. I never get the chance to have it on one take I keep on trying until I get it,” she shared.
While waiting, she worked as Dental Surgery Assistant (DSA) for three years at the American Mission Hospital, the oldest and most established hospital in the Gulf.
When Dr. Maria finally got her license from the Ministry of Health, she was then assigned in different health centers in the Kingdom, particularly in Riffa, and slowly became well-known in her profession.
Because she is married to Bahraini, she learned the language and it became easier for her to communicate with her patients.
“In the Ministry, you will get to face different people and nationalities,” the dentist said. “Thus, [communication and] proper treatment is very important as a doctor.”
Dr. Maria’s passion is to serve the people and give what is best for them despite some of her patients being disobedient.
But that does not stop her from achieving her goal to be a doctor.
“That is the reason why I wanted to join the Ministry [to serve the people],” she said. “I don’t mainly aim for financial gain but for service and stability.”
Despite working in the ministry for years now, Dr. Maria said she is still overwhelmed by what she has achieved in her career.
“I feel elated whenever my fellow countrymen are proud of me, even more if Bahrainis appreciated my service,” she said.
“It’s like I have lifted the Filipino cultures and values as one,” she added..