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

Majd

Majd – Madrinha mentor for undergraduate scholarship

Majd

Majd, a 2nd year anaesthesia resident, was sponsored by the Madrinha Trust when she was a medical student at Al Quds University. She is now a Madrinha mentor to Jamal, a medical student at IUG, who is part of the undergraduate scholarship programme. Read about her experience:

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”

Mahattma Ghandi
Majd

“When I started medical school, I was told “time flies”. I really never knew the meaning of that till today.

Three years after graduation, here I am a 2nd year anaesthesia resident working in a really big hospital – a dream came true.

The reason I am willing to endure all the pressure, stress, sacrifices and long hours is because I love what I do. Even if it is not the easiest path, choose what you love the most.

Behind my success story comes the motivation and support I got from my family and Madrhina. A long journey together, from being a medical student and a mentee, through internship and now residency and being a mentor, which I really like.

I’ve always liked giving advice and helping others and with mentoring Jamal this has given me the opportunity to achieve it. We not only talk about medicine, we also share stories of our families, friends and hobbies.

My father is fighting lung cancer now, Jamal helped a lot with his sweet words and prayers. I feel we are more than a mentor-mentee relationship, but brother and sister.

Madrhina family has done it all; introducing people from all over the world to each other, being exposed to different cultures and societies, helping students becoming what they want and giving all the support they need. I am happy and always grateful for what they did and still doing.

Thank you.”

Read about undergraduate scholarships here

Anas in Gaza

Dr Anas – journey to Gaza

Dr Anas’ journey to Gaza in June 2019 to help examine the medical students at the Islamic University of Gaza.

“Being a British trained doctor of Palestinian heritage, I have always wanted to travel to Palestine and contribute to its healthcare. Travelling with me was the FQMS Chairman, Khaled Dawas, and Oxford surgeon, Nick Maynard. Both of them were remarkable characters with a lot of connections and experiences in Gaza.

Arriving into the Gaza Strip was quite a surreal experience. It would be too easy to describe the hardship and difficulty of the lives of the people there. I suspect many of us would have read and seen it all before, such that we’ve become numb and inure to it. Rather what I wish to describe was what I didn’t expect from my visit there.

In spite of the adverse conditions people find themselves in, there was an atmosphere of community, drive and indomitable resilience. This was exemplified with the students and faculty at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG).

When it comes to final year exams, I often find that medical students become visibly nervous especially when I put on my expressionless poker face. Rather I was left in awe of the IUG students’ near textbook knowledge and ability to give it their best under exam conditions.

None of the opportunities and experiences afforded to these students at the IUG would have been possible were it not for the work of its dedicated faculty. Key amongst them is Dr Anwar Al Shaikh Khalil, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine.

FQMS has also done its part as the fruits of its funding are visible in the many resources and facilities used in the medical school. This should give its patrons a great source of pride and reason to continue their support!”

Read more about the professional development programme here

Abeer

Abeer – pathology training

Abeer

Abeer, originally from Gaza, has been supported by FQMS to do her pathology speciality training in Egypt and Jordan. This summer we helped her do an observership at Christie Hospital in Manchester. Read about her experience and the differences she experienced:

“In pathology we say (you cannot separate passion from pathology any more than you can separate a person’s spirit from his body).  The field of pathology is ever changing! That’s what makes it different from other specialties! The dynamics of change!

There is no doubt that training in different places has fostered my skill set as a clinician! I was privileged to train in three places, Cairo, Jordan and Manchester. Each place has its pros and cons!

Egypt pathology training

With a population of 97 million, Egypt has the hugest number of cases any pathologist that I’ve encountered! Whether you practice at Cairo University Hospital or Ain Shams Hospital, you are going to see a wide variety of cases. However, most cases are directed to the private practice labs, some of which are more advanced than the departments in teaching hospitals. In order to gain enough experience I chose to volunteer at one of those private labs 3 days a week after work. This combined experience helped me master my gross dissection skills and learn about different disease patterns! As a junior trainee have to figure your own way to meet the international standards and be able to practice independently!

Jordan pathology training

Pathology training in Jordan taught me to speak the international language of pathology! College of American Pathologists (CAP) protocols and WHO updates are followed on a daily basis! University hospitals establish a solid base for independent practice with a safe evidence based approach. The renowned King Hussein Cancer Centre is a referral centre for the entire region. Having said that, the large and varied number of cases means working under pressure and needing to manage your time carefully.

UK pathology training

This summer I was in Manchester. Manchester and all of the UK has a different system. The UK uses guidelines set by the Royal College, which is different from CAP. Big hospitals in UK are known for being the regional lead in sub-specialties. For example, Christie Hospital it is oncology cytogenetic and histopathology. Practising in one a hospital like this exposes you to rare cases and the different microscopic features for each disease. It introduced me to the power of subspecialty.”

Read more about the professional development programme here