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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
22 April 2015
Greg Kandra




Agnon Adnidihad, 62, fled his home in Mosul last year. (photo: CNEWA)

Last Saturday morning, I met a man named Agnan Adnidihad. Now I’d like you to meet him, too.

A few months ago, he was a 62-year-old repairman working in Mosul, Iraq — a Syriac Orthodox Christian quietly tending his business and saying his prayers.

Then along came ISIS.

Today, Agnan is a refugee, living in a corner of Amman, Jordan, where all he can do is survey the remnants of a life that has been ransacked and left in ruins. I met him at the Italian Hospital in Amman, where he is being treated for heart ailments and stress. He agreed to a short interview; the hospital’s medical director, Dr. Khalid Shammas, served as our translator. You can watch the video below.

Dr. Shammas told us the needs of people like Agnan are great; many who pass through the hospital’s doors suffer from posttraumatic stress and depression. And their numbers are growing in Jordan. The country is being flooded with tens of thousands of people from Iraq and Syria who are literally running for their lives. In Jordan, they are finding their way to the Italian Hospital for treatment.

The Italian Hospital is Amman’s oldest medical facility, dating to 1926. (photo: Greg Kandra)

I was blessed to visit the hospital last weekend and receive a guided tour. In the Spring edition of ONE magazine, writer Dale Gavlak offers this snapshot of an institution that is having a profound and positive impact:

The Italian Hospital is Amman’s oldest medical facility, dating to 1926. The 100-bed hospital maintains a longstanding charitable tradition, providing some of the best care at low prices — in some cases, as with Nevine’s delivery, for free.

The hospital offers checkups, intensive care, pediatric and maternity care and a variety of other services, making referrals only in the case of the most serious procedures, such as cardiac surgery.

“For many years, refugees have been coming to our hospital, starting with the Palestinians,” says Nassim Samawi, administrative director. Now, as many as 130 Iraqi Christians daily seek medical assistance at the white limestone facility in Amman’s bustling downtown. Refugees driven from neighboring countries and continents alike come for help, including people from Syria, Sudan, Somalia and even Iraqis still displaced from the 2003 war.

“The flow of refugees is great. We see the suffering they are going through and how we can support them,” says Sister Elizabeth Mary, one of the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Mary who staff the facility.

“Whatever funds we receive, they’re used because the people never stop coming. We are always looking for help,” adds the soft-spoken sister.

“It’s normal to see refugees here at the Italian Hospital, which is not the case with other hospitals in Amman. At every level, our staff is prepared to aid them, and the refugees also feel good about coming to our hospital,” Mr. Samawi says.

“Thousands of people are benefiting from our health care program handling mid-sized surgeries,” says Ra’ed Bahou, CNEWA’s regional director for Jordan and Iraq, which supports the Catholic hospital’s care for refugees and the poor. “Now, we are trying to help with larger surgeries — heart operations and some cancer and hernia treatments.”

When our group of newswriters and bloggers visited, the waiting rooms were crowded with mothers with small children and the elderly in wheelchairs. Young nurses shuttled from room to room tracking patients, collecting samples and filing paperwork. The overwhelming majority of patients and staff were Muslim; the women’s heads were covered in the traditional cloth hijab. Many spoke little or no English.

Many of the staff at the Italian Hospital, as with most of the patients, are Muslim. This nurse cares for newborns. (photo: Greg Kandra)

But for all that, the hospital remains distinctly Catholic. Every room has a crucifix on the wall. In the neonatal unit, images of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus watch over slumbering newborns. Two sisters from India, Sister Elizabeth and Sister Vinitha, from the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, supervise the staff.

Sister Vinitha, left, and Sister Elizabeth, right, are the two sisters who serve at the Italian Hospital. (photo: CNEWA)

The work being done at the Italian Hospital is urgent — yet in our short time there, all we saw was calm. The hospital is spotless. The staff is efficient and gracious. You have the sense that all who come there are in the very best of hands.

For so many, these are the only hands reaching out to help them.

The Italian Hospital has a unit dedicated to caring for newborns, many born to refugees.
(photo: Greg Kandra)


It was a great privilege to see the work CNEWA is helping to make possible in this corner of the land we call Holy — and I was proud to be a part of it, even in some small way. There is so much good being done here. Grace is everywhere.

You, too, can share in this work, and make the lives of men like Agnon Adnidihad better. Take a moment to visit our giving page. You will be giving something beyond what you may realize — a sense of possibility and promise, of reassurance and hope. These people from Iraq and Syria need that. Now, more than ever.

Read more about the hospital in Finding Sanctuary in Jordan in the spring edition of ONE.



Tags: Refugees Children Jordan Health Care