Launch of IPONET
We commissioned artist Nihad Dukhan, http://ndukhan.com to create this calligraphy for our new project IPONET, asking him to combine Baghdad Resolve with a phrase that staff at CWTH agreed summed up our sentiments: A tree begins with a seed. His worked with this idea in mind: Baghdad Resolved - Baghdad is waking/getting up (from sitting or sleeping or defeat and destruction and rubbles), beginning the process of standing and re-growing, recollecting, shedding off problems.
The calligraphy arrived on July 3, the same day Baghdad suffered one of the worst bombing attacks in years, with 300 reported killed and hundreds more wounded. What to make of our hopeful calligraphy, and promises of reawakening. Had it arrived too late, or perhaps too early? It would take time to recover from the trauma of this attack. And what of our project launch in Amman; after eight months of planning, would we be able to go forward?
Funding was secured, thanks to major support from Amgen, an international biotechnology company, to the NGO, LIFE for Relief and Development and to many personal donors such as you. The conference was scheduled for July 19-23, 2016 yet on July 3 we were still struggling to obtain visas into Jordan for our Iraqi medical team: seven nurses and four pediatric oncologists and one adult hematologist from CWTH, a colleague of the pediatric team. We feared events in Baghdad would make getting the visas even more difficult.
Given this context, the overwhelming success of our days together was even more impressive. All of the doctors, and six of the seven nurses received visas. We were joined in Amman by Kathy Houlahan, Nurse Director from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Nesreen Fathy, Nurse Researcher from Cairo Children’s Cancer Hospital, by Dr. Paula Green consultant, and mentor in the field of inter-group relations and conflict resolution and by two long time friends and supporters of CWTH from JIM-NET (Japan Iraq Medical Network), Maki Sato and Shoko.
They participated honestly. They supported each other, expressed their gratitude for what was going well and their concerns about the many problems on the unit. They offered criticisms with empathy and respect; they listened carefully to one another. They thought creatively. They worked pro- actively on their own behalf, with determination to develop a realistic plan of action, one that has the possibility to succeed because this is their unit; they are the actors in this play. They know the Being outside of the chaos and away from the personal and professional pressures of life and work in Baghdad was critical to our success. Participants had time - a luxury for those living in Baghdad - and a safe, calm working space. People who had never participated in anything like this before rose to the occasion. situation, the possibilities and the very real barriers –lack of human and financial resources, lack of social and political stability-- as well as the personal challenges that would face them when they returned to Iraq. Behind and beside - in solidarity - with all of this the internationals gave personal and professional support and some guidance; there were offers for concrete help and collaboration as the Iraqi team works to meet their goal of improving overall patient care by improving education and training for the nurses at CWTH’s pediatric oncology unit.
We wanted to foster and develop a sense of shared commitment and cohesion, hoping doctors and nurses would leave with a better understanding of the personal and professional needs of their colleagues. And, we wanted to develop a concrete plan of action to achieve the six recommended Standards for Pediatric Oncology Nursing Care in LMICs (Low/Middle Income Countries) as recommended by SIOP/PODC (International Society of Pediatric Oncology/ Pediatric Oncology in Developing Countries) Nursing Working Group.
We think we achieved these goals.