The surgeries, a vein stripping and femoral endarterectomy, went well at Rafidi hospital this morning as we said good-bye to Rafidi Hospital and this ancient city. We had many new friends of which only a few we could both pronounce much less remember their names. As we left we were awarded a plaque and certificate of service. It was quite rewarding. Marty said it well, everything looks old here. Even the countryside where every hill has staircased terraces for farming and olive trees supported by ancient rocks.
We have to acknowledge our two devoted contacts here in Nablus. Hanna and Sawsan were absolutely perfect hosts, and made sure every logistic went perfect. Cab rides, breakfast, lunch, dinner, clinics, operating rooms, and coffee breaks. They were with us every minute during the day. They are so pleasant and dedicated to the people of Palestine. As another example of how the lives of everyday Palestinians is interrupted Sawsan lives 9 minutes away getting to Nablus to be with us in the morning but has to go a different route home due to Israeli checkpoints and takes her over an hour. Thank you Hanna and Sawsan.
We then traveled to Ramallah which is just north of Jerusalem. The trip was through winding roads and notable for he ancient country side, the several checkpoints we are getting used to, and a sheep traffic jam.
Ramallah is the most modern and cosmopolitan city in Palestine. It has a large Christian population (no correlation). It has more modern buildings, is the center for the Palestine Authority, and the home base of many NGO’s including ours the PCRF. We met the Steve Sosebee the founder and CEO of PCRF along with his 9 year old daughter. Steve founded PRCF over 20 years ago with his wife who unfortunately passed away from leukemia several years ago. She was Palestinian who he met as a college student when he studied here. Steve is from Kent, Ohio. Steve told us he came to Palestine because he grew up very politically active because of the attack of the National Guard of the Vietnam protestors at Kent State where I believe 4 students were killed in 1970. In any event PRCF and the Palestinian cause has become his life work and he has helped so many people here and I am sure will form many years to come. His travel has been restricted severely by the Israelis despite he daughter being a Palestinian citizen. PRCF is entirely funded on private donations so again I encourage you to go to their website and give to a worthy cause. Currently Steve is funding and creating multiple important missions and facilities, but the most impressive is building Gaza’s only pediatric cancer department costing 10 million dollars. And he can’t even visit it to supervise and watch his vision take shape. Such is life under an outside authoritarian state.
Otherwise it was a relatively down day. We leave at 7:30 to leave for Gaza Strip to work at a hospital only a stones throw from the Egyptian border, and will be staying at a dormitory attached. We are not sure what we will be doing but this old surgeon hopes it’s not quite as busy. We did 18 surgeries in 6 days of which one lasted 10 hours(it wasn’t suppose to). If you look at a map you will realize that despite Gaza being part of Palestine, Israel separates the two areas so will be going around Jerusalem, through two major border checkpoints to get to Gaza. No cars are allowed in into Gaza so we will have to walk across the border and pick a new taxi on the other side. We anticipate a unique day tomorrow.
As we describe our days here please note a consistent theme of complete control of travel between and outside of the Palestinian cities. Within the country side and even on the outskirts of Nablus there are what are called settlements which are essentially walled cities for Israelis built in the West Bank for Israelis, protected by the IDF (Israeli Defense Force). Often the Palestinians who were living there were force off their land and their homes bulldozed. These settlements violate international law, and have precipitated multiple UN resolutions against Israel. (Your reading for tonight is on Zionism and the map of Palestine and Israel).
Marty and Mark continue to enjoy our time here. We continue to enjoy all aspects of it. I apologize if I wax a little political. It is hard not to take up the Palestinian cause when seeing how again they are prisoners in their own country.
Check us out at pcrf.net/father-son-team-of-usa-vascular-surgeons-volunteer-in-Nablus/
PS we awoke to automatic weapon fire last night, but were told not to worry its was probably a wedding. And we just polka in Wisconsin.