Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Weather: 66°, widespread dust

I thought blogging might be challenging, and as the days slip by, I know it to be so, so here's a brief look back, impressions.

Our first day began with the head of the unit (Salma Al-Hadad) giving us a tour of the pediatric oncology unit, meeting the nursing staff, children and their mothers, aunts or grandmothers. Hours later we had an amazing welcome lunch with the staff. 

Every trip should start with the food of the region!

From here we returned to the unit, then went to Salma's home for evening tea and sweets. And back to our room for much needed sleep. 

Last night we walked back to our room with Nirmeen, one of the nurses. Our hosts, Doctors Mazin Al-Jadiry and Salma Al-Hadad are having one of the staff stay overnite in the unit in case we need anything. It's a short walk, it's dark outside. As we pass through the doors we walk past a much used and somewhat derelict playground where the siblings of the sick kids play. The fathers hang out here also, as only women are permitted on the ward. The mothers, aunts or grandmothers stay with the children round the clock, caring for them. This is complicated and there's much more about this, but far too much for this not-every-day-writer to write.

This is a unique experience, an eye opener, lots of sadness, some smiles. Here's a few photos from the first couple of days.

The magazine rack at the airport in Amman, Jordan

From a patient's window. The Tigris River is in the background.

Doctors Hasanein, Salma, Samaher, and Mazin with students outside at the medical college

Doctors and nurses after our welcome lunch, holding the
finger puppets that Claudia brought

Finding a good vein. They don't have ports for chemo as we do.


Bedding airing on the terrace

 Important to eat; Adian with her Mom


Only day 3 here and I've been in tons of selfies! I like this one.

Some impressions:
Baghdad looks dusty and broken, no traffic rules. 

Fun fact: no insurance...for anything, including the basic ones like medical care and auto. 

No taxes. (Iraq used to get their $$$ from oil)

Claudia and I stand out with our gray hair and American looks.  

We saw a small line of parents waiting with their children who would have a bone marrow sample taken. 

We have been made to feel so welcome. 

Hopefully more tomorrow.



  1. So good to hear from u and see photos. Saw Pearl today and she read your blog with interest.

  2. I’m so impressed and happy for you Ellen. Your blog and photos are so informative. Your loving presence, smile and sensitivity on the ward are healing I’m sure.
    With love