01 November 2006

Back from the remnants of Palestine

In the 13 days I spent in Gaza with a young British companion, we shared the power outages with the people – about 16 hours per day. The difference was that our hotel had a generator. The Adam had 8 floors and Ed and myself were the only guests.

The El Wafa hospital and Dr Khamis Elessi were our hosts. Because there was some risk of kidknapping or worse, we were picked up and never walked far. As always, our Palestinian brothers and sisters were very pleased we had joined them.

I opened the IT lab at CCAST – the Community College of Applied Science and Technology. The 18,000 dollars we had provided had bought 20 computers and a video projector. The lab was very well set up. A welcome to Dove and Dolphin was on the whiteboard and the 'screensaver' on each PC was – you guessed it - 'Dove and Dolphin'. Each of the 4000 students will be taught IT skills – equal numbers of young men and women. It was a happy occasion. We will develop internet links with the students. I wonder about the sixth form at Ilfracombe College who established very successful links with the Tamer Institute in Ramallah.

I spoke to the first intake of medical students at the Islamic University. The dean (a general surgeon and skilled endoscopist) introduced me. My friend Khamis was there also. A young lady addressed me on behalf of all. Her English was excellent. I did my best to inspire them in their calling and to bring them love from outside. I hope to be more involved with them in the future.

The plans Khamis and I have for a medical educational centre were given greater detail and impetus. Several factors combined to delay an inauguration this time, not least the daily killing of martyrs by varied weapons. We need to provide computer booths for distance and other learning methods eg DVDs of histological slides. We need to assemble a database of doctors from the UK and elsewhere, across the specialties, who will be willing to go in teams of about 3 to 4 to teach at post- and undergraduate level. The plan is to hold special clinics eg diabetes, where several patients can be presented to visting doctors with specialist knowledge. Symposia will be held during daytime. 'Our man' Nihad Taha will be involved in the organisation of them. I left one of our two 'Dove and Dolphin' flags with Khamis, and showed him where he could put it!

There is much more to say which I will include in other postings. There will also be links to articles.