1st Palestinian Birth+Prenatal Ctrs, Jordan Valley

 
$38,236
$9,764
Raised
Remaining
First Sonogram of healthy baby Mohamed
First Sonogram of healthy baby Mohamed

Dear Friend,

I am proud to tell you that after nearly seven years of project development, we opened the Birthing Center in the Palestinian town of Ein Al Beida on Thursday, March 19th!  

My Rotary Club of Woodside / Portola Valley was one of seven Rotary Clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area who joined the Rotary Club of Nazareth and the Rotary Club of Ramallah to purchase and send 6 pallets of equipment including ultrasound, heart monitors and infant warmers.  Assist International coordinated the equipment selection and testing — as well as the training program that was funded by your contribution as a donor.  It is Rebuilding Alliance who hosted the three doctors who are also professors at the Santiago University Hospital in Chile who joined us as trainers: Dr. Mauro Parra, Dr. Hugo Salinas, and Dr. Nedeska Morales!

“I got the chance to join Dr. Nedeska Morales as her interpreter when the Palestinian women doctors were learning to use the ultrasound machine,” said Ayat Omran, Communications and Outreach Officer for Rebuilding Alliance. “A pregnant woman came for check up. It was touching and emotional to witness this process for the first time in my life and see the baby inside. It brought tears to my eyes watching his face, his little feet and his heart jumping. It was really jumping up and down and that was unbelievable. This baby will come soon into life, probably at this new center!” 

Everything gracefully fell into place:

  • The equipment arrives safely the day before our team got there. The equipment was trucked from the Peugeot warehouse where a Ramallah Rotarian had carefully stored it, over to the Jordan Valley to Ein Al Beida’s emergency clinic.

  • As soon as Jim Stunkel and Jason Onarecker from Assist International arrived from the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, we met up with the doctors in Jerusalem then headed to Al Aqaba, stopping for dinner at Darna, a famous restaurant in Ramallah. We reached Al Aqaba’s Guesthouse long after dark.

  • We all helped Jim and Jason in opening boxes and putting equipment together.   Jason, now in medical school, has his degree in engineering with lots of experience in medical equipment maintenance and trouble-shooting. The Doctors from Chile, pitched in, as did the Al Beida Clinic’s staff.  

  • Most of the equipment worked, right out of the box!   The doctors tested the heart and blood pressure monitors out on one another – but there's only one way to test the ultrasound.

  • Soon, the OB/GYN team arrived for training on all the machines, especially with the ultrasound machines.   Two of the three doctors were born in Russia, marrying Palestinians.   Now we were the Palestinian/American/Chilean/Russian team!

  • When a young mother joined us to see the first sonogram on the new Utrasound, the women doctors stayed in the examination room with her, and so did Dr. Mauro. Dr. Mauro and Dr. Nedeska provided the training as Ayat translated … it almost worked perfectly.

  • Word came that Dr. Assad Rimlawi , deputy Minister of Health, was on his way — so exciting. The once empty rooms in the Japanese-funded emergency center were now filled with birthing center equipment: heart monitors, ultrasound, bassinet and infant warmer, suction — and Jim Stunkel proudly introduce each piece of equipment to the minister and staff.

  • The people of Ein Al Beida hosted a full luncheon of musakhan, the wonderful chicken with sumac and sauteed onions served on bread baked round in a Taboun oven, so delicious.

  • We spent the afternoon assembling the equipment at the Al Haj Clinic in Al Aqaba where the Ministry of Health is welcoming visiting doctors, nurses, midwives, and yoga teachers to offer classes to new parents.

  • About that gap in the programming of the ultrasound machines, Jason and the Assist International team back in California scrambled to find the answer – by next morning, both ultrasound machines were working correctly, now measuring key dimensions to calculate the gestation age of the growing fetus.

  • On Thursday night, Dr. Mauro joined Mayor Haj Sami and both the Assist International and Rebuilding Alliance teams for tea at Othman Abu Hosni’s house — one of Rebuilding to Remain homes in Al Aqaba.  

  • That night, the President Marwan Totah and Internatioal Service Chair Wijdan of the Rotary Club of Ramallah drove all the way to Al Aqaba to present plaques for each clinic to Dr. Jameel Daragmeh, Deputy Ministry of Health for the Tubas Governorate. Dr. Jameel presented each member of the team with a special plaque of thanks from the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

  • The next day, we traveled to Nazareth in Israel where we met with Nazareth Rotary Club President Alber Zaher and our long-time project mentor Rotary Past District Governor Yusef Srouji. Abu Yusef is the 2014 winner of the Service Above Self award, Rotary International’s highest honor!

  • And what a night we spent in Nazareth, walking all the way down the hills from the scenic St. Margaret’s Guesthouse to explore that wonderful town, then walking all the way back up again!

  • On Saturday, our whole team continued to explore the historical and religious, visiting the Annunciation cathedral and the ancient synagogue where Jesus spoke, there in Nazareth as well as the White Mosque there too. Then on to the Dead Sea and Jericho, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. We even took the cable car up to the Mount of Temptations!

  • We brought the doctors back to Bethlehem where their hosts, Bethlehem 2000 – Chile, would help with their journey forward.   Dr. Hugo and Dr. Nedeska headed off to Gaza while Dr. Mauro returned home. Jason returned home to Oaklahoma that next day too while Jim, Kelly and I stayed on to visit with the Ramallah Rotary Club at their Wednesday meeting.

Next week, April 6-16th, Kelly, Ayat, Niveen and I will welcome the Rotarians from the San Francisco Bay Area as they come on tour to see the Birthing Center and prenatal clinic, along with the wonders of this Holy Land.  Generous donor, if you would like to join us for the upcoming Birthing Center Tour, please send me email at Contact@RebuildingAlliance.org

Thank you again for your support and patience. Great to see this project happen at long last!  We could not have done this without you!

Sincerely,

Meeting our Professor Doctors from Chile
Meeting our Professor Doctors from Chile
Six pallets delivered by Rotary Club of Ramallah
Six pallets delivered by Rotary Club of Ramallah
Beautiful Moms at new Birthing Center Ein Al Beida
Beautiful Moms at new Birthing Center Ein Al Beida
Dep. Minister of Health came to see & welcome us!
Dep. Minister of Health came to see & welcome us!
View of the Palestinian town of Ein Al Beida
View of the Palestinian town of Ein Al Beida
Birthing Equipment arrived in Ramallah at last!
Birthing Equipment arrived in Ramallah at last!

After six long years working through endless details, I am so pleased to tell you that our Birthing Equipment made it through Israel’s Customs and is now in the care of the Rotary Club of Ramallah! 

“This makes me incredibly happy,” said Al Aqaba’s Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq, on hearing this good news.  “I remember our meeting with Rotarian Sophia Omar in Palo Alto in 2008 when I learned about her successful effort to open a 2 room clinic in Afghanistan that is now the biggest hospital in Afghanistan." So exciting to see inspiration become reality.

Dr. Jamil Daragmeh, the Deputy Minister of Health in Tubas, has hired three women doctors who are ready for ultrasound equipment training at the new Birthing Center in the West Bank Jordan Valley town of Ein Al Beida. In addition to the Birthing Center, the project also includes the Prenatal Clinic in Al Aqaba. This is a part-time clinic and the Palestinian Ministry of Health is giving Al Aqaba the ability to invite visiting staff in addition to training the part-time staff on site.

The distinguished training team includes Palestinian-American doctors who will be flying-in all the way from the country of Chile.  Assist International, our partner in this project, has connected with a distinguished team of doctors and sonographers from Chile — they are standing by to fly to Palestine and begin training.

“I sincerely appreciate the generous donations of  everyone who made this dream happen: the Rotary Clubs who provided grants for the Birthing Center equipment and all the Rebuilding Alliance donors who helped provide additional equipment for Al Aqaba’s Prenatal clinic and for the costs of training,” said Mayor Haj Sami. “Al Aqaba’s people have had no one to give them these basic health services — this prenatal clinic will help save lives!”

Now here is a question for you, Gentle Donor. Would you like to tour the Holy Land to join in the opening ceremonies at the Birthing Center and the Prenatal Clinic?   We’ll be hosted by the Rotary Club of Ramallah and the Rotary Club of Nazareth and the visit will include the festivities at our clinics in the Jordan Valley and also tours of Ramallah, Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I'll have tentative dates read soon  — Please send me email or give me a call at 650 325-4663 if you would like to join us.

Thank you again for making this project possible.

Sincerely,

Donna

Received by the Rotary Club of Ramallah
Received by the Rotary Club of Ramallah
And carefully stored until training team arrival
And carefully stored until training team arrival

Attachments:

Dear Friends,

I have good news:  this month, a delegation from  Circle of Health International will be visiting Al Aqaba’s Al Amal (Hope) Clinic and also the new clinic in Ein Al Beida.   Circle of Health International is a U.S. NGO dedicated to working with women and their communities in times of crisis and disaster to ensure access to quality reproductive, maternal, and newborn care. They provide volunteers to give clinical and technical support on site in the field, supporting local clinicians without taking over their work.

This delegation is a team of 4 people (3 women and one man) who will stay in Al Aqaba Village on Nov 18 - Nov. 22, then return again Nov. 26 - Dec. 1.  One delegate, Certified Nurse Midwife Ms. Simone Lance, will remain to volunteer through the end of the year.  They would like to assist at the Al Aqaba Clinic, at the new Emergency Care Center in Ein Al Beida, and anywhere in the area where they are needed.  They are ready to provide workshops on a diverse range of birth, prenatal and postpartum topics, and would like to provide hands-on care as well.

Meanwhile, our project is moving forward step by step as we get ready to ship the medical equipment.  Upon our return from our successful visit with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Sophia Omar and I met with Assist International to get the equipment ready for shipment.  Assist International revised the equipment list to comply with the request by the Ministry of Health for equipment brands with local tech support.  You may remember that Rebuilding Alliance’s project is in parallel to Rotary International matching grant for the Birthing Center equipment so we are submitting the revised list of equipment to Rotary International for their approval. As soon as RI approves, funds will be transferred and Assist International will ship the equipment.

Thank you again for your support of this important project.  We’re getting close now.  We think the equipment will arrive in February and we will schedule the trainers to arrive soon after.  I look forward to sending you an invitation to join us for a 10 day tour in February or March to include our birthing center and clinic, and visits to the Rotary Clubs of Ramallah and of Nazareth and some wonderful site seeing!

As always, please feel free to call us with questions or suggestions at 650 325-4663.

Links:

Staff and tiny patient at the clinic in Tayaseer
Staff and tiny patient at the clinic in Tayaseer

Hello Project Donors,

Thank you again for your support.   My colleague and mentor Sophia Omar and I are here in the West Bank to work through the details of this project so that it will move forward at last.  Although the Rotary grant combined with your GlobalGiving donations provides for equipment and training, so far we’ve not had a commitment for staffing.  Sophia and I are here to get the staffing allocation or develop a Plan B for private staffing.

On Sunday, Dr. Allam Jarar of the Palestinian Union of Medical Relief Societies (we asked his intervention when the Palestinian Government failed to respond to our requests by mail and phone) introduced us to Dr. Mahmoun, the Director of the Ministry of Health for the Tubas Governorate.  They took us to visit a new clinic and emergency room building constructed by the Japanese government in the village of Ein Al Beida, about 25 minutes north of Al Aqaba, also in Area C Jordan Valley.  We also visited the clinic in nearby Tayaseer in addition to visiting the clinic in Al Aqaba Village earlier in the week.

They propose citing our Birthing Center in the new Ein Al Beida Clinic instead of Al Aqaba Clinic and there are a number of good reasons for this:

  • The Tayaseer Checkpoint can prevent residents of the northern Jordan Valley from reaching Al Aqaba's Clinic;
  • Ein Al Beida is closer to the communities of the north including more than a thousand Bedouin families;
  • There is already staffing 3 days per week;
  • The Ministry of Health is making a commitment to expand staffing to 7 days per week and provide a midwife and nurse on site 24/7 for the birthing center.

Meanwhile, all agree that Al Aqaba Clinic will be a good place for prenatal appointments and are offering medical staffing there 2 days per week, but just 3 hours per day.  In addition, they are willing to contract with NGO’s to provide yoga and birthing classes, and various other Mother Child Education classes in Al Aqaba, rounding out the prenatal care program to 4-5 days per week.

Next step:  a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Health in Ramallah, hopefully this Thursday.  Overall impression: favorable.  My concern:  When I said we'll bring the training team in October, Dr. Mahmoun said this is too soon. Does the Ministry of Health have the budget needed to make their big commitment to staffing in Ein Al Beida's new clinic?   When will they actually open the new clinic and emergency health center?

We’re here in Palestine and Israel through Aug. 29th, and we're determined to return home with a clear commitment for staffing, a clear schedule for opening both the Birthing Center in Ein Al Beida and the Prenatal Clinic in Al Aqaba, and a good sense of how we will get the equipment in.  I'll get back to you in two weeks with an update.

Sincerely,
Donna

P.S.  On Tuesday, we’re speaking at the Rotary Club of Nazareth, a sponsor of the Birthing Center. Sophia and I are invited to talk about our work in the West Bank and also Sophia’s remarkable hospital (now the largest in all Afghanistan!) in Kabul.  They would also like to have our two clubs develop a Rotary project “to benefit of our medical institutions here in Nazareth that give their services to about a quarter of a million people, Jews, Christians and Moslems that live in Nazareth and the surrounding cities and villages.”  We continue to draw upon their insight and expertise!

Healthy babies, healthy moms & families - our goal
Healthy babies, healthy moms & families - our goal
Side View of New Clinic
Side View of New Clinic
Front door of new clinic
Front door of new clinic
Our meeting with Dr. Mahmoun and Dr. Allam
Our meeting with Dr. Mahmoun and Dr. Allam
Good meeting overall!
Good meeting overall!
Yup, that
Yup, that's me -did I mention the 104 degree heat?
Facing Al Aqaba photo by Maurice Jacobsen Mar 2013
Facing Al Aqaba photo by Maurice Jacobsen Mar 2013

Hello Everyone,

Thank you again for your support.   Your donation makes it possible for Rebuilding Alliance to bring together a remarkable team to do something that no one could do alone:  install a birthing center that will serve a population of 50,000 people in the northern part of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley.  

I am writing to say that our birthing center implementation plans are stalled as we resolve two hurdles.  Please know that our team is usually quite good at resolving big and small hurdles.  Ok, here's what's happening: 

1.  The "refurbished equipment" challenge:   The equipment that Assist International is sending for the Birthing Center is refurbished equipment and whether it arrives first through the Amman airport or first through the Ben Gurion Airport, it must go through Israeli customs before entry is allowed into the West Bank.  From what we are hearing, Israeli Customs does not allow entry of any refurbished medical equipment.  The NGO with lots of experience whom we asked for help declined to assist us, saying that it is a BIG challenge to get special approval.

Now for the hopeful next steps:

A.  About 8 years ago, Assist International has brought and installed refurbished equipment in the Daniel Pearl Hospital in Israel.  They are exploring customs approval via their connections; and

B. There is a shipping approval group affiliated with the King of Jordan who has asked to help facilitate;

2.  The personnel challenge:  Our birthing center program includes equipment and training but does not include personnel.   At the time we wrote the proposal in 2008 (yes, that long ago.  A lot of work has gone into this project), Al Aqaba Village anticipated it would be easy for the Ministry of Health to ramp-up personnel at their Al Amal Clinic.  Now lack of funds to the Palestinian government (the U.S. Congress stopped U.S. funding as punnishment for their vote for recognition before the U.N., and the Israeli government stopped transfer of taxes collected) means that they have not met payroll for over 4 months.   Even the Ministry of Health itself has contracted to working only 1 day per week.   

Birthing Centers are usually 24/7 so we must find a grant to fund staff at the Al Amal Clinic.  We're in touch with Dr. Moustafa Barghouti's group, the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, to identify staff.   Because British Consul originally built the Al Amal Clinic, we will ask the British Consul for a grant to fund Birthing Center personnel.

So, that's where we stand right now.  I'll keep you posted as these matter resolve.  Thank you again for your support and your patience.  This is a project that matters and I look forward to arranging the next steps (scheduling the training visit with the new staff and scheduling a tour for all the donors) as soon as we know how and when we will get the equipment in.

Sincerely,
Donna

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Organization

Project Leader

Donna Baranski-walker

Executive Director
San Mateo, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of 1st Palestinian Birth+Prenatal Ctrs, Jordan Valley