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Press Release

Nurses' Remarkable Friendship Spans Over 60 years, 3 Continents

Published on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 (12:41 p.m.)

Our paths converge for many reasons. Through time and circumstance, we encounter thousands of people throughout our lifetime. Among all those fleeting faces, caught somewhere between the ebb and flow of family and acquaintances, occasionally does anyone stand out. Yet somehow, in the midst of this event we call life, genuine friendships are forged. Most of these will be short-lived; others will be long and filled with fond memories; and on the rarest of occasions, those most special may even last a lifetime.

“The Sisters” Milly Edwin and Leela Abraham have known each other for over 60 years. Their unique friendship predates the iPhone, MTV, and Kennedy’s presidency. They met before Vietnam was a household word and before most of us were even introduced to color TV’s. Throughout the years, the call of career separated the ladies, but they always managed to find each other. And while they can’t be certain of what initially united them, they are certain of why they remain together; the bond of friendship.

Millie and Leela both had a unique Christian upbringing in India. Through chance, or perhaps faith, they first met in the late 1940’s at the Methodist sponsored Ellen Thoburn Cowen Memorial School of Nursing on the outskirts of Bangalore, India. The class was very small and all the students were women. Back then, nursing was not thought of as a highly-regarded career.

“When I started nursing, it was the lowest job in India. People thought it was dirty and no one wanted it. But we were devoted. When you see people suffering, you get attached to patients and their needs,” Ms. Abraham said.

Despite what society thought, Milly and Leela stayed the course and finished nursing school. As young students, they had no idea what the world had in store for them. They couldn’t know that their life’s mission would carry them across 3 different continents, affording them the rare and wonderful opportunity to see the world while caring for people of many different cultures.

After nursing school, Leela began her service at a mission hospital in Agra, India. She worked and studied intensely, and after 3 years, was accepted to England’s hallmark Oxford University on a full scholarship from the Psychiatric Nursing Program. Soon after graduation, Leela left England and began working at St. Catherine’s in Ontario, Canada.

At the same time Milly was working in Delhi, tutoring the healers of tomorrow in India’s Elite Nursing Program. Then, in the 1970’s Milly ventured overseas settling in Philadelphia.

Soon after Milly arrived, the “Sisters” were reunited yet again, this time at the University of Virginia Hospital. They worked there until a job offer in 1973 drew them to what is now home; Las Vegas. While at Southern Nevada Memorial hospital, now University Medical Center, Leela worked in ER while Milly worked on the psychiatric and surgical floors. They both worked in Las Vegas until retirement in 1995.

After living in Las Vegas for over 20 years and witnessing the city’s explosive growth, Milly and Leela decided to spend their retirement here. But they didn’t squander their twilight years just sitting around relaxing. The notion of altruism that first presented itself in nursing school would continue throughout their retirement. The ladies kept busy with different church groups, helping the homeless, teenagers, prisoners, and groups that assist foreign countries in need. They have been active parishioners in a Las Vegas Methodist Church for almost 40 years. Their generous spirit and community service has garnered them a number of awards including:
• A proclamation from Senator Barbra Cegavske for their contributions to the welfare of people throughout the world.
• A Certificate of Recognition from Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons for their excellence in service.
• A proclamation from County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani for their hard work and sacrifice.
• February 14, 2010 was declared Milly Abraham and Leela Edwin Day by then Mayor Oscar Goodman for their service in the health care field.

As remarkable as their story is, there is still more to be told. Now in their mid-eighties and with ailing health Milly and Leela don’t get out as much, but they are still active in the Methodist Church. As November is National Family Caregivers Month, Catholic Charities will be holding a reception Nov. 12, 2012 to honor Respite Care clients who have passed away over the last two years. Both Milly and Leela are current Respite Care clients and will be attending. Their special friend Senator Cegavske will be there as well. The reception will be held at CCSN’s St. Vincent courtyard on 1501 Las Vegas Blvd North from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

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