Patient and staff testimonies from the MSF Reconstructive Surgery Hospital in Amman, Jordan
Aug 03, 2016
‘’The Gaza war taught us that the price of preparing a breakfast meal can prove to be very costly; we are surrounded by danger every single second..’’
Nora Abdullah — 28-year-old patient
"I arrived to Jordan first time at the end of September last year, and I had to undergo nine surgical interventions. My injuries were quite severe, especially in the face and jaw area, which was caused by a bomb explosion in my house in Beit Lahiya.
I can still remember every single detail of the day of the incident. It was around 09:00 AM, on the second day of Eid Al-fitr in 2014, during the Gaza war.
I was preparing breakfast in the kitchen, and all of a sudden, a shell came through the window and exploded. My husband passed away immediately, and I got severely injured in my lower jaw. Luckily, none of my three daughters was hurt, as the explosion was far from their room. My husband died in his bed, and the emergency team could not do anything to save his life.
I was hospitalized immediately to Al Shifaa hospital in Gaza, where I had to undergo a few surgeries, including skin grafts, and clearing splinters off my body. This treatment lasted for over a month, before I was transferred to Egypt to continue the treatment. I had to undergo three surgeries in Egypt; my face and lower jaw were severely damaged, and I needed a more specialized care, so I decided to go back to Gaza, in order to be closer to my family.
We waited for a year, before we got an approval to travel to Jordan. We had applied for a treatment at MSF`s Surgical and Rehabilitation of War Casualties hospital, and luckily I was able to travel to Jordan with my father. We arrived there after a long and tiresome journey, but it was worth it. After the surgeries were done, my lower jaw movement got much better, and my ability to talk and eat improved so much. I am very happy that this phase of treatment is over, and I can go back to my family, within a few weeks’ time.
The Gaza war taught us that the price of preparing a breakfast meal can prove to be very costly; we are surrounded by danger every single second."
“The hospital is a second home for patients, and we work to make this home the best place for them away from their war-torn countries”.
Amani Al Buhisi — Health Education Nurse
MSF Reconstructive Surgery Hospital
I started working with MSF 3 years ago as a Health Education Nurse in its project specialized in reconstructive surgery for victims of war.
Health education activities focus on 4 main aspects in: personal hygiene, infection control, nutrition and smoking which is dangerously affecting the treatment process.
We offer health education services in the inpatient and outpatient departments, and I work with an important and specific group of patients and those are war-wounded children. This group of patients requires special care as they are coming from some very complicated contexts of destructive wars, and thus most of them were deprived of the basic knowledge of personal hygiene and other health educational issues. So we need to adopt awareness-raising strategies that meet their age level, and make it easier for them to get the information in simplified ways, like using for instance their favourite cartoon characters, or certain games or toys to facilitate knowledge concerning personal hygiene. We also talk about healthy practices through group sessions where they perform teeth brushing and hand washing.
One of the major challenges in educating children is dealing with the traumas they had and still live through after all the tragic events they have witnessed in their devastated countries, so it’s crucial to use creative techniques every day to encourage them accepting the information and apply them.
MSF’s specialized project in reconstructive surgery requires a long period of hospitalization, and many patients need multiple phases treatment, so we focus on the idea that the hospital is a second home for patients, and we work to make this home the best place for them away from their war-torn countries, in addition to ensuring the hygienic environment they live in, and giving them the healthcare they need between the different stages of treatment. We also train fathers and mothers or caretakers in general on how to attend to the tiniest details in caring for their children.
Many patients reach the hospital suffering severe infections due to the injuries they had in their countries, and high levels of resistance to the different antibiotics, and here comes the effective role of health education in educating and training patients to adhere to the instructions of infection control for them and their caretakers. What makes this project special is the joint efforts all departments exert towards the one goal of offering high quality medical care for patients.
My work with MSF is a turning point in my career because of the human aspect of the project which urged me and still to develop health awareness approaches, and use the experience I obtained through this project to create a solid working base that enables any fellow after me to continue on the same track.
“We attend to the tiniest details of our patients around the clock”
Hassan Abu Hatab — Caretaker
MSF Reconstructive Surgery Hospital
I am Hassan Abu Hatab, I am 28 years old and work as a caretaker in MSF’s reconstructive surgery hospital. Most people have no idea what a caretaker in MSF does, and the simplest way to describe it is: “Attending to the tiniest daily details of our patients”, spending a long time with them around the day, and even at night during night shifts.
My part is to follow up the medical needs of patients, completing what the medical staff in the project has already done, so we provide them with daily meals, and give them their prescribed medicines. We also care for their different needs of hygiene and sterilization, and this is an important and delicate side in our job, especially that so many war wounded suffer antibiotic-resistant infections, and sometimes they need to be isolated and adhered to special procedures of hygiene and sterilization. We gave our patients all the time they need to talk about the difficulties they have been through in their countries, and the longing they have for their houses, families and homelands. And we often work as a link between them and the Psycho-social support team inside the hospital.
We see the patients every day, and spend more time with them than the time we spend with our families, so we fully understand their needs and their ups and downs during the long process of recovery in MSF’s reconstructive surgery hospital. The ultimate aspect of project is not only the surgical care it provides, but the sense of humanity that motivates every staff member to apply the highest human standards in serving the patients, regardless to whether a surgeon, a physiatrist, a nurse or a caretaker, as we all comprehend the suffering those wounded have been through because of the many regional wars.
Every case I worked on along the past years had a speciality that pushed me to continue my work with MSF, but one of the most memorable patients was a Syrian child called “Orjouan”, who was 3 years old, and lost her mother and brothers in the Syrian war, and also lost her childhood because of the severe burns and fractures she had, and she was calling every woman she sees “Mum” because she was missing her mother that much. ‘’Orjouan’’ is just one of the hundred cases we deal with on daily basis. And in fact, working with children is particularly pleasant, especially when we encourage them to eat their meals, or give them paper and colours to draw and paint because we can clearly see the innocent smile on their faces that defies war and its calamities.