S: Smile Train Mission to the West Bank 2008
FC: Palestine 2008
1: Sunrise over old city Jerusalem | Smile Train Mission to the West Bank Nov 28- Dec 8 2008
2: We arrived in Tel Aviv ~9AM and took a taxi into Palestine. We just barely had time to squeeze in a 30 minute nap before heading to the hospital for our first full day of screenings | ARRIVAL
3: We screened almost 90 kids in Tulkarm over the first 2 days to choose which were the biggest priorities for surgery. Some local speech therapists came to help translate, but the language barrier was still a challenge | The speech team!
4: We spent the first 2 nights in an apartment in Tulkarm. After our second day of screenings, Omar, a local audiologist invited us to his house for dinner and took us on a walking tour of the city. The rest of the team stayed put in Tulkarm doing surgeries for the duration of the trip, while Dan, Lynn, and I traveled around the West Bank to do teaching. | Courtyard outside of our apartment | Bombed out building just next door | Our room!
6: The next morning Dan and I hitched a taxi to the hospital in Jenin where we gave a lecture, visited the NICU and worked with several patients. We then continued on to Nablus for the afternoon. After visiting a preschool and meeting with patients in the hospital there, we met up with a PCRF social worker named Hana who showed us around Nablus and took us to see the ancient Turkish baths located in the heart of the old city. She and her husband even treated us to dinner and a delicious local dessert specialty! | Turkish Baths | NABLUS
7: ON | The | ROAD | We saw lots of interesting things.... | Military presence and LOTS of Israeli checkpoints | Donkeys on the highway | We spent a LOT of time in taxis traveling from city to city. Sometimes we were even sent off without knowing our exact destination with drivers who couldn't speak English! One such occasion was our late night journey from Nablus to Ramallah when we got detained at an Israeli checkpoint. Thankfully we eventually made it to our hotel safe and sound! | Jerusalem: city on a hill | and even... a birthday banner for Jesus! | Firas...our favorite driver
8: JERI | The next day we got up early to see patients at the hospital in Ramallah. We then grabbed a taxi to Jericho where we gave a presentation to hospital staff. Afterwards a local ENT took us on a quick tour of the city... | Our first stop was at Qasr Hisham, the ruins of a first century palace destroyed by an earthquake before it was finished. | Jericho is 150 feet below sea level! | Qasr Hisham | Mosaic floor in the ruins
9: Dan, Lynn, and I with our Jericho tour guides | Mount of Temptation thought to be where Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert | CHO | CHO | Ruins of the ancient wall of Jericho | Tree of Zacchaeus. "You like this tree? You take photo? Let's move!"
10: Bethlehem | The next day we caught an early taxi to Bethlehem to see patients. The hospital was VERY dingy and run-down. We had to rush from there to the hospital in Hebron. After we were finished with all of our official duties, we convinced our driver to take us back to Bethlehem for some sight-seeing! | Us and some local SLPs in Hebron | Outside of the Church of the Nativity | You have to crouch to enter as a sign of humility | Glimpse of Constantine's mosaic floor
11: We toured the Church of the Nativity, named as the birthplace of Jesus since as early as 100AD! There is a large sanctuary above ground and stairs down to the tiny cave where Jesus was believed to be born. Our visit happened to be in the first week of Advent, so you could hear monks softly singing Silent Night from above while we toured the cave. An unforgettable experience to say the least! | Entrance to the cave | Looks like a cozy place to spend the night in a pinch... | You could touch the original rock walls! | Altar built in the back of the cave where Mary most likely would've given birth
12: Ramallah | Ramallah was our home base for most of the trip. We stayed there for 5 nights in 2 different hotels. The first hotel was not exactly 5 star, but as exhausted as we were in the evenings, we could've slept anywhere! | Hanin & Omar's clinic at the Red Crescent Society | peeling wallpaper, gum on the wall, and hair on the pillows...welcome to the Best Eastern! | Omar hard at work at the clinic
13: New Friends | We spent almost every day with Hanin (local speech therapist) and Omar (local audiologist). We met their families, ate at their homes, and visited their workplace. We all became fast friends and saying goodbye at the end of the week wasn't easy! | Hanin's Family | Hanin and I | Dan, Omar, Omar's brother, and Hanin's brother
14: The next day, Hanin's mom went to Jerusalem to pray at the mosque and offered to take us into the city. The streets were crowded and we quickly got disoriented, but were eventually able to find our way to the Via Dolorosa. From there, we followed the path of the cross through the old city. | Old City Jerusalem | Lost...again | One of the old city gates
15: Church of the Holy Sepulcher | After getting lost several times, we finally made it to the church that is said to sit on the site of Christ's crucifixion. Inside we got to touch the Rock of Golgotha! | This is said to be the rock where they laid Jesus' body | The inside of the church was very ornate
16: The next day we presented at the 2nd annual Palestinian Cleft Society regional conference. There was a big turn-out of local professionals, and the conference was a big success! Afterwards, our whole group packed into a van and headed to the Seven Arches Hotel on the Mount of Olives for our last night. | Our whole team! | PCRF presented us with plaques in recognition of our service!
17: Mount of Olives | Seven Arches Hotel | Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. They're thought to be almost 2000 years old! | View of the sunrise over Old City Jerusalem from our hotel
18: Masada | The next morning most of the group left for the airport just after breakfast, but Lynn and I stayed behind for one last day of sightseeing. We took a taxi to Masada, the ruins of Herod's palace on the Dead Sea. The views were absolutely breath-taking. Definitely worth the trip! | Inside the ruins of Herod's palace
19: The Wailing Wall...last stop before we headed to the airport
20: During the course of our trip we visited hospitals in seven cities, trained dozens of local professionals, and worked with hundreds of Palestinian children. Here are just a few of the sweet smiling faces that we met...
21: The makings of the first Palestinian multidisciplinary Cleft Palate team!