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