Christmas in Palestine

Chairman’s Update December 2020

Christmas Palestine

“A merry Christmas to you. It is very easy to feel jaded and cynical about the end of this year and the advent of next. Everything comes to an end. With every hardship comes a new horizon. Of that I am 100% confident.

At FQMS we managed to safely navigate March and snuck in with our gala dinner. It was very successful though attendance was expectedly hit by the early worries about COVID19. From our point of view as trustees it has been a very interesting 9 months. We have learned a lot and the constant ducking and diving to navigate the exposed manholes of the pandemic kept us on our toes. Rita, our devoted and excellent operations manager was furloughed for many months as we were unable to conduct any real fundraising activities.

Our main concern is always the beneficiaries of your generous donations. Palestinian medical schools shut as did most around the world. The difference in Palestine is the inability of the average person to rely on state help. Occupation limits freedom and ability to earn. In Gaza the wretched siege exacerbated many people’s miserable lives further. We diverted some of our funds to cover the tuition fees. Thus students did not have to incur more debt and the fees received helped pay the salaries of their teachers and trainers so they can survive easier.

You know about our upcoming webinars. The first one is on 16th January. We are jumping with joy that Professor Jim Al Khalili agreed to address our guests. I spoke to Jim and was struck by his humility and grace. Professor Hani Abdeen, the Al Quds Medical School dean will also give a real life portrayal of the medical school. We will also be joined by recent graduates from the school and you will get a very good picture of life there.

Please donate in advance if you can. We are pragmatic and appreciate that many of you may be stretched more than usual this year. If you are considering making charitable donations please keep FQMS in mind. The Trustees are working hard trying to approach donors.

We all wish you a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

See you on January 16th at 6pm.”

Khaled Dawas

Zahir certificate

Zaher’s elective experience 2019

In June 2019, Zaher went on his elective to Koc University Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey. His experience focused on Cardiology.

Zahir

“Last summer, I did an elective course in the Cardiology Department in Koc University Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey. It was a fascinating experience which uncovered a whole new world in medicine for me. I hope to experience again as soon as possible.

Upon arrival and in the first meeting with my supervisor, we came up with a plan for my rotation in the cardiology department. We wanted to cover as many cardiology clinics as possible.

What I learnt

The outpatient clinics treated a variety of different cases, such as heart failure, valvular heart disease and arrhythmia. After we examined the patients, we discussed each case and formed a treatment plan. These considered all the patient’s details so it could be most effective. In my humble opinion, the biggest influence this clinic had on me was how the patients were dealt with in terms of ethics and medical information disclosure. They emphasised that the patient-centred approach is the cornerstone of the health care delivery. As an example, one seventy years old patient suffered from arrhythmia and wasn’t accepting his treatment plan. The doctor surprisingly showed the patient how the scoring system worked and invited him to find out his own score. This helped persuade him to embrace his treatment.

Zahir Istanbul Doctors

In echocardiography there were numerous cases with positive findings. This included hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, valvular heart diseases and ventricular kinetic abnormalities. In addition to pre-operative assessments, the rotating doctor started with demonstrating the cardiac windows and the cardiac anatomy revealed by the probe in each window. The doctor also taught me to read echocardiography and to identify different pathologies and abnormalities seen in various diseases. The most interesting part in this clinic, as I’d never seen a transesophageal echocardiography.

Another thing I observed was the process of installing a holter for a variety of patients and how to interpret their reports to identify arrhythmias. I saw numerous pathologies such as different degrees of heart blockage, supraventricular tachycardias. 

In the end of this report, I would like to thank you for the amazing opportunity this experience gave me. It allowed me to visit new countries and discover their culture. It also widened my exposure to different treatment methods.”

Read more about the international training placement programme here

Gaza group

Can you help FQMS achieve our mission?

Gaza teaching group

We are looking for new trustees to provide leadership and help shape the future of FQMS. Can you help?

Our aim is to create a future where Palestinian healthcare is self-sufficient backed up by excellent medical education. This would negate the need for patients to be referred for treatment away from home.

We are recruiting 2 new trustees to join our board, to provide leadership and help shape the future of FQMS. We are particularly interested in hearing from people with skills and experience in at least one of the following areas: Business, Finance, Fundraising and Law.

We know that diverse Boards make better decisions, so it’s important to us that we have a variety of perspectives and experiences represented. Our Trustee roles are open to everyone and we encourage applicants from all backgrounds.

I hope what you read in this recruitment pack will inspire you and drive your interest. We would like to hear from you, talk about your ideas and contributions.

Deadline for applications: Friday 11th December 2020

How to Apply

Apply to admin@fqms.org and send the documents listed below:

  • An up-to-date CV – maximum 2 pages.
  • A supporting statement – outlining your interest in the role and how you fit the person specification. Include examples of your skills and knowledge gained from voluntary and paid work. Maximum 500 words.
  • Referee details – We need references from 2 people who can evidence your ability to work strategically at board level, and also your specialist knowledge, please include:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Position in the organization
    • Relationship to you
    • Telephone number
    • Email address

If you have any questions about the role or your suitability, please email admin@fqms.org.

If you are accepted there will be a 6-month introductory / probation period to allow for mutual vetting.

Read more about how you can help FQMS

Osama books

Osama – FQMS bursary

At the beginning of lockdown, we kindly asked our donors to help us support more students in Gaza through our bursary programme. Here is the story of one of the students which we were able to support as a result of your donations. Read about Osama and his experience receiving a FQMS bursary. He is a student at IUG.

Osama in surgery training

“At the beginning, I want to express about my grateful for you for your support me and my colleague students and stand beside us in our crisis and don’t allow for financial impediment to prevent us from achieving our goals and dreams.

In fact I have a problem in matriculate for 2019/2020 season in the university in addition to the debit on me for the university and other persons. So I was in urgent need for financial support and by assistance of Allah and your scholarship I can pass this crisis. So really thank you very very much!

I will make my all effort to fulfil my dream, I have faced a lot of obstacles in my way that I could overcome, but the financial situation still poses a major obstacle but your scholarship gave me great hope and determination. It appeared to me as a sparkle in the darkness determination.

This scholarship means so much to me that it open up horizons for me to develop my relationships, talents, hobbies, and focus on my studies. Without it, the dreams that I’ve planned for and hoped to achieve will probably be shattered.”

Read more about student bursaries here

Laila el-Haddad speaking

Chairman’s update April 2020

Has it really only been just over 4 weeks since the FQMS Annual Gala Dinner? So much has changed since then. Read the Chairman’s update April 2020:

Gala dinner audience

The dinner on the 7th March was much fun and Anjum Misbahuddin and the other committee members succeeded inn organising a varied and lively programme. The Ambassador Dr Husam Zomlot gave a short word followed by summary of the state of medical education and needs in Palestine by Dr Hani Abdeen, Dean of the Al Quds Medical School.  Laila el-Haddad, the Gaza-born keynote speaker, gave an inspiring and clear message about ambition and achievement. She travelled from the USA specifically for the evening and we are grateful for the time and effort she put into this.

Imran Yusuf was our celebrity comedian. He won over even more fans with his poignant and cutting humour. As a longstanding loyal and generous supporter of our charity, Najy Nasser was awarded this year’s “Major Benefactor Award”.  The evening was wrapped up by Hawiyya and the ever popular dabke folk dance with many joining in. 

The city theme this year was “Gaza”. Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell were very kind in allowing us to use clips of their fantastic film “Gaza“. Gaza is particularly prone to the disastrous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with its poor healthcare and the siege restricting movement and trade between it and the rest of the World. Access to intensive care and other hospital facilities are very limited and the health of the average Palestinian in Gaza has been weakened by years of poverty and deprivation.

The dinner raised about £100,000. Thank you to all of you. The attendance numbers were certainly hit by the COVID-19 concerns though this was at an early stage then. FQMS expects that this will affect its ability to fund all the projects we had planned. The level of poverty and deprivation will increase dramatically in light of the economic situation affecting everyone. The travel restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 mean that students will not be able to travel for their international training electives. The FQMS trustees therefore propose to divert the electives funds to bursaries this year.

I look forward to seeing you on the other side of this crisis. If you are able to, please consider helping FQMS with more donations to help with bursaries for students whose families will struggle even more than usual to fund their education. 

Anatomage table demonstration

Chairman’s report December 2019

Anatomage table demonstration

Read the Chairman’s, Khaled Dawas, report on what FQMS has achieved in 2019.

Where did 2019 go?

Of course we, and most of the British population, have been fixated on the elections and the ongoing campaigning. However, FQMS has its own business and this has revealed many successes.

The Al Quds University Medical School has opened the new FQMS Anatomy Lab, which is near-fully funded by FQMS. An Najah University Medical School in Nablus is following closely behind as it awaits delivery of the new digital technology tools.

Though FQMS prides itself on these capital investments in the medical education system in Palestine, we remain the strong proponents of the human side of it. FQMS proudly continues it’s partnership with the Madrinha Trust. We have just agreed full scholarships for a further group of medical students and are in the process of interviewing and selecting the students.

That is not all. Three more Palestinian board certified doctors have arrived in the UK to complete 2 years of sub specialist training. They are training in some of the most renowned UK centres in their fields. These are the specialists who we hope, will drive even more improvement in the clinical and academic profiles of the Palestinian health sector in years to come.

The FQMS annual gala dinner is on 7th March 2020. We have a new venue, the grand Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane, and are very excited about the programme. The city theme for this year is “Gaza” and we have a surprise lined up for you for the evening. In addition to being a fundraising event we as trustees pay particular attention to the entertainment side.

Our mission requires constant seeking of donations. We are inundated with requests to help students in Palestine whose families are unable to pay their fees. Sadly, we are unable to help many. Please keep your donations coming. Even a £10 donation is worthwhile.

Donate now

Nayef Aqel

Dr Nayef Aqel obituary

Dr Nayef Aqel passed away last month, read his obituary, which was written by one of his many friends, Dr Mohammad Qadiri. We all mourn him and give our condolences to his wife and 4 children.

“Sadness overwhelms me as I write on the passing of my friend and long-time colleague, Dr Nayef M Aqel on the 13th of October 2019. After a short illness. Nayef passed away peacefully at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge surrounded by his beloved family and friends, aged 65 years.

He is survived by his wife Dr Lama Zakarneh, and 4 children; Ameera, Nader, Hiba and Lujane.

It is ironic, but fitting, that he should spend his last days in the same hospital he loved and studied at as a PhD student.

Nayef was born in Jericho, Palestine and brought up in Amman, Jordan. He studied at Jordan University and qualified as a medical doctor in 1979. His ambition was endless. He worked at Irbid medical school, Yarmouk University, before pursuing further education and a PhD at Cambridge University. That was followed by a 5-year postgraduate training programme in histopathology and the award of the FRCPath diploma. 

Nayef worked as a consultant pathologist in several UK hospitals; Basildon Hospital, London North West University/ Northwick Park and Northampton Hospitals. He had a special interest in haematopathology and breast pathology. His career extended to almost 40 years.

Nayef is highly regarded for his professionalism. He devoted much of his time to teaching and supporting medical education with emphasis on Palestinian medical schools and training. He was a trustee of FQMS (Al-Quds Foundation for Medical Schools in Palestine) and supported the training of the under and postgraduate students both at professional and personal levels. Nayef also supported the development of pathology standards and services in many Arab countries. He participated in and ran many educational symposia voluntarily, often on his own, in Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and Sudan.

Nayef was also a family man. Supremely calm and thoughtful, rarely did he display anger. Even during his last days he was one who many turned to for wise counsel and considered advice and help.

Nayef loved to bring people together. He ran the Palestinian doctors’ dinner meetings for more than 20 years and successfully organised the latter himself 3 monthly. These were not only wonderful social gatherings but also intellectual and academic occasions.

Lama describes him as a great scholar, generous giver, amazing mentor and a man of honour. Nayef Aqel was indeed a wonderful man.

I would like to extend special thanks to the doctors and nurses at Northampton and Addenbrooke’s Hospitals for their loving care and support during Nayef’s final days.

‘May God accept his soul and grant him the highest place in Paradise’.”

Dr Mohammad R Qadiri
Consultant Physician

ansam

Ansam – undergraduate scholarship at An Najah

Ansam volunteering at the Dome of the Rock

Ansam, a 4th year medical student at An Najah University, was accepted for a full undergraduate scholarship through our partnership with the Madrinha Trust last year. Read about her experience:

“I can’t believe I just finished my third year as a medical student! It’s a feeling of happiness mixed with enthusiasm for what’s coming!

Now let me tell you a little about what I experienced in those 3 years. These years have never been easy. They were full of fatigue and staying up at night to study, full of double effort, extracurricular and voluntary work.

Three years ago, i was not like the current who I am! Much has changed. For the better as I see. I became responsible for myself and my decisions. My dreams grew and my abilities exceeded everyone’s expectations, including me, and my hopes exceeded the horizon!!!

I am now very proud of myself that I have taken the highest marks in these years and have been able to sustain my progress.

One of the most important things that happened was that I became a mentee of the Madrinha Trust. Yes, it was really a big turning point in my whole life. To be honest, I have no words to describe how I feel toward Madrinha. Madrinha’s mentees are so nice. We share each other good news and great achievements.

Of course, I must not forget to mention my wonderful mentor – Ayman – who always offers to help me.

Ansam volunteering

At the end of my 3rd year in college, I volunteered in the emergency department of a government hospital here in Nablus to get used to the nature of working in the fourth year, the first clinical year. It was a very joyful time I learned a lot such as nursing skills. Despite that pleasure, it was a bit tiring because I was working 6-7 hours without a break. But it was all easy when you see the smile of a young child after treating him or seeing an old man praying for God to reward me with good.

I am now starting my 4th year, it was said that it’s the hardest year of the six years of medicine, but I am very excited about it. Because brave people don’t stop hearing whispers of fear. They hear the whispers but take action anyway!”

Read about undergraduate scholarships here

Jamal

Jamal – undergraduate scholarship at IUG

Jamal observing surgery

Jamal, a 4th year medical student at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), was accepted for a full undergraduate scholarship through our partnership with the Madrinha Trust last year. Read about his experience:

Jamal

“I am Jamal a 22 year-old medical student at IUG. I belong to a family that consists of 10 members: my mother , 3 brothers, 5 sisters and me. My father died in 2007 when I was 10 years old. My mother took the responsibility to raise and educate her sons and daughters.

During this time my mother faced some difficulties concerning our financial sate and these difficulties were exacerbated when I decided to study medicine at IUG. Unfortunately, the fees in the Faculty of Medicine are extremely high. Because of that the need for a scholarship became very necessary, so that I could reach my dream of becoming a great doctor.

At this time, the Madrinha Trust responded to our need and gave me the wonderful opportunity to join their family. By applying to its programme of helping and supporting students at universities, they built a bridge to my goal. This scholarship solved a large part of the financial problem facing my mother and has made me more responsible and serious about my medical study. Also I get experience about managing my time between studying and developing myself outside of university life.

I am very thankful to your support in my educational route. I think I would’ve faced more obstacles and problems, if I didn’t get the chance to become a member of the Madrinha Trust family. As a result of the continuous observation of my mentor, I have even achieved a higher CGPA. I feel very proud to be a mentee under her supervision.

All of my thanks to you Dr Majd. I believe that I’m going to reach my goal through her help and advice about my studies and social life.”

Read about undergraduate scholarships here

Ayman

Ayman – Madrinha Trust mentee and now mentor

Ayman and his mentor Nick
Ayman and his mentor Nick

Read a letter from Ayman about his experience going from being a mentor and sponsored by the Madrinha Trust to being a mentor to Ansam, a Palestinian medical student at An Najah University:

“It’s always challenging for me when it comes to write or describe what Madrinha has done since many years. 

Ayman

I clearly remember the first moment I have been accepted as a mentee at Madrinha Trust in 2013. All days, without exception, were superb and astonishing. I enjoyed every single moment with Madrinha. My life has completely changed for the better after joining Madrinha and used all my abilities to succeed and improve myself at all aspects especially in studying the field I really like, Human Medicine. What proves this is the wondering I touched from the surrounding when they started saying: “What happened to Ayman”? “He became another person; especially when he came back from Wales in 2014”. Year after year I have started to recognise myself very well and take the lead and responsibility in doing my activities.

Two memories that it would be impossible to forget. The first one was in 2014 when I got an opportunity for elective training in Cardiff, Wales. The other one was in 2016 when I did a training at Oxford University Hospitals especially in the field I would really like to join soon; neurosurgery. These chances were just amazing, I have made great friends, acquired the brilliant knowledge, and also have touched the U.K. system and culture closely. 

In 2017, I got another chance of travelling to USA for clinical training at Harvard Medical School for two months. It was also a big addition to my life experience and got in touch with many kind people there who were always welcoming me and trying to support as much as possible. 

I finally successfully graduated as a medical doctor from Al-Quds Medical School-Jerusalem in 2017 after 6 years full of work and loss of sleep. However, they were full of memories and I think Madrinha made the years pass smoothly with no obstacles. 

Currently, I am working as a Teaching Assistant of Advanced Neurology for Master students at Al-Quds Medical School and also a Researcher of Neuroscience at the Palestinian Neuroscience Initiative which is also located at Al-Quds University. 

As a future plan, I have presented some documents to one of the reputed hospitals in Tel Aviv, Israel to do a neurosurgery specialty. I have received an initial approval from the chief of the department but I still await the final approval by the Israeli Ministry of Health. I will definitely keep you posted for any progress in this regard. 

I know I talk too much but I have many stories and things in my mind. Let me finish by writing about two main issues. At first, I am so proud of being a mentor after I spent a considerable period of time as a mentee (Although I am still a mentee for the great mentors and supervisions at Madrinha). At this moment I remember my late, wonderful and great mentor Dr. Nick Dudley who supported me a lot before he left us. Selma Harb came after that and also was so kind in helping me. The same applies to Dr. Khaled Dawas who is doing his best to support me. 

Now, I am the mentor for an amazing mentee; Ansam, who is smart and responsible for her studies and has been achieving top results in the last few years. I am quite sure she will repeat her success once again in the following years. 

Finally, I would like to send my warmest regards to Jania and Mike who have established this wonderful organization and I would like to do something similar in Palestine in the future. Further, my warmest regards to you, Rita, for your ongoing support and help. I look forward to meeting you all real soon. 

Together we can establish and develop innovative minds. 

Thank you. 

Ayman”

Read about undergraduate scholarships here