Iraq field report
Our focus in 2016 was on Kurdistan in Iraq (top photo). Through his contacts in Kurdistan, Dieter was able to arrange an assignment for Prof. Götz Ehmann from Hamburg and me in Dohuk.
It was really an adventure! We set off into a completely new world, naturally associated with a bit of fear and a queasy feeling in the stomach area about what was in store for us in Iraqi Kurdistan. Because the ISIS fighters were actually only 40 km away everywhere.
In the small town of Dohuk near the Syrian and Turkish borders, we were warmly welcomed by our Kurdish colleagues. In the children's hospital, we were supposed to be the only Germans to operate on 27 children with them over the next few days. It was a wonderful German-Kurdish collaboration. We felt very welcome there. The hospitality was great and the parents of the little cleft children were so incredibly grateful. Because as babies, these children are all cute - how strong the disfigurement really is and that they often cannot speak only becomes apparent when they get bigger. It was just nice to be able to help a little also these people who live in such a tense environment.
We were particularly impressed by a visit to the huge refugee camp. After talking to people a little bit, we found two youngsters here with cleft lips who had never seen a doctor!
Palestine experience report
Although there are definitely good surgeons in Palestine (middle and lower photo), the care of many small cleft children is by no means guaranteed, because here too the government does not pay for these operations, which enable the children to have a future worth living in. And of course, the supply is made more difficult by the special location of the country - walls, barbed wire fences everywhere - it is frightening.
Our help is accepted all the more gratefully.