Our two first postgraduate MTI scheme subspecialty trainees arrived in the UK to train in neurology in 2008. Although on their selection committee, it was with some apprehension that I and my neurology colleague welcomed them here. Will they settle down easily? Will they accommodate to a new cultural environment? Will they be welcome and their path facilitated by local trainers and trainees? Will they have a positive impact easing the path for others to follow? Will they work hard and be up to the task of acquiring the skills needed on their return, broader than those necessary in the UK where specialists are better supported by teams? Most importantly, will they return and make a success of their professional life in Palestine, serve their community and pass on their skills to others?
So much was at stake but we need not have worried. Both Dr Rami Abadlah and Dr Fadi Al Kafri did us proud, not only during their stay, but also on their return, building for themselves excellent reputations as well-trained, skilled, hard-working neurologists, teachers and great doctors. I cannot praise them highly enough. So why ‘bittersweet’? Sadly, our cup is half full. Rami continues to work and live in Gaza. Fadi after more than 3 years of working as a neurologist in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and as Assistant Dean For Clinical Affairs at Al Quds University has very recently left. Since his return in the summer of 2012, and every few weeks, Fadi ‘crossed the bridge’, with all that implies, to see his wife and family in Amman; during his brief visits, the eldest of his two sons, now 3, usually did not let him out of his sight. All his efforts and those of others on his behalf over the last few years to obtain a residence permit for his family failed. Permits are not being granted in the present political climate. Eventually the family could remain divided no longer. Fadi has had to, for now, give up his dreams and the West Bank has lost a young neurologist and educator with vision and great promise.
Some circumstances are beyond our and our trainees’ control. FQMS postgraduate trainees through our Juzoor partnership sign a legally binding agreement to return to Palestine to work for a period of at least twice the period of training and to contribute to a rolling fund to train others in the future. Our new trustee, Dr Awwad Awwad, believes this is essential: that those we support now not only commit to return but also pledge to later help support others to train and develop when their circumstances allow.
In this newsletter we share a short update on some of our programmes, successes and progress of our current trainees. We hope you enjoy reading it as well as the inspiring letter from Dr Hani Abdeen, ex- Minister of Health and Dean of Al Quds Medical School on the wonderful academic achievements of the medical students.
Our work goes well. Needless to say it would not be possible without your support. This is my opportunity to say a big thank you to all our supporters. I am aware that we do not keep in touch enough between fund raising dinners. We shall try harder. It is not for lack of will but for lack of time as most of our trustees have full-time posts. My last few words are to thank a very special father and daughter team. Many of you know Rita our much-valued FQMS secretary. Our treasurer, Mr Anthony Leonard, continues to keep our accounts in order despite illness. Thank you Rita and thank you Tony from the bottom of our hearts! Our work would not be possible without you. Finally, at this time of year, preparations are underway for our fund raising dinner on March 11th 2016. Dr Rawya Charif is working hard again this year, while Rima Abboushi is again taking care of the sales table and the ‘legendary’ FQMS raffle. Our hosts will be another special father and daughter team. I shall leave you guessing for now! We rely on you to be there for us to make it a success. Thank you.
Message from Lina Nashef, FQMS Chair