Limerick, Doolin, Galway and the Cliffs of Moher

  • May 20, 2016

Limerick, Shannon, Galway and the Cliffs of Moher Dr. J and The Twin Doctors Travel Bag spend day 3 of the Travel Bag’s Heritage Tour visiting The Burren, Limerick, Doolin, Galway and the Cliffs of Moher; while examining the connection…

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Dublin’s Body Snatchers and Napoleon’s Teeth

  • May 16, 2016

Dublin’s Body Snatchers and Napoleon’s Teeth Dr. J and The Twin Doctors Travel Bag continue their Ancestry.com inspired Heritage Tour of Ireland by exploring Dublin’s massive Glasnevin Cemetery. A place where Body Snatchers once roamed. After that, Dr. J sets…

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As Though They Have Nothing Left

  • April 10, 2016

 

As Though They Have Nothing Left
Dr. Jamil reflects on the week that he and his brother spent in Jordan working as part of a medical mission providing care to displaced Syrian refugees.

Jamil photoshoot 1 As though they have nothing

Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman

refugees fleeing as though they have nothing

Syrian refugee fleeing

Sometimes with adversity, inwardly, a person may gain so much; while outwardly, to many, it may look as though they have nothing left. Is this really so surprising though? After all consider, what can a person do when everything of material value has been taken away from them? Where can a person go when their home has been reduced to ash and to rubble? Who is a person, and who will they become when everything that once defined their very existence on this earthly plane has been laid bare? Who are they, and who will they become when they awaken to a reality that obscenely informs them that their former existence was nothing more than an illusion? A vivid dream perhaps, and one in which the specter of stability, normalcy, happiness and contentment looked and felt so real; but turned out to be no more real than the fairness, justice and repatriation is that they now so hopelessly long for? So take a moment to ask yourself the following. Does your nationality define who you are? Does your money define who you are? Are you your bank account? Do your friends define who you are? Do your family members define who you are? Does your job define who you are? Does your home define who you are? Do your borders define who you are? If these things do in fact define who you are, then who do you become when they’ve all been taken away from you? Who do you become when you’ve been stripped bare, rendered naked, and left with nothing more to hide behind? Who do you become when you are forced to face yourself and to define yourself simply by who you are and not by where you live, what you have, or who you have left? Spend some time in Jordan with Syrian refugees, and you will quickly come to know what it is that a person may gain inwardly when it looks outwardly as though they have nothing left.

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Today we cried.

  • April 10, 2016

Today we cried.
Dr. Idries discusses his time in Sweileh.

Idries photoshoot 2

Idries Abdur-Rahman, MD, FACOG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we cried. We had been strangers just moments before and now the three of us just sat there in that small blue room with the dusty curtains and together we cried.

 

On day 5 of the Jordan medical mission I found myself in Sweileh, a small town to the north of the capital city Amman. Our team today was smaller than on previous days and included myself, an Internist from Chicago, a Dermatologist from Ohio and a General Practitioner/Acupuncturist from New York City. The Sweileh clinic is a multi-specialty clinic that provides services to the local Syrian refugees who again lack access to medical services because they do not reside within refugee camps. Like all the days before, we arrived to find a waiting room that was bursting at the seams with people needing to be seen. The clinic director took me to an exam room with powder blue walls where I found an exam table, a pretty decent ultrasound machine and a closet full of medications. As we got settled, the gracious clinic staff brought us coffee, tea and pastries and advised us that they were available if there was anything that we needed. I have to admit that I always felt a bit guilty when clinic directors brought us food and beverages but anyone who has travelled in the middle east knows that this is just typical Arab hospitality. Great staff, nice facilities and a table full of coffee, tea and pastries! The day was definitely looking up.

 

Sweileh Jordan Medical Mission

Plate full of pastries given to me at the start of our day in Sweileh in my little blue exam room.

 

Sweileh Jordan Medical Mission

The waiting room in Sweileh (at the end of the day hence it is empty).

 

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In Zaatari who said life is fair?

  • April 6, 2016

Jordan Medical Mission Day 3-Idries
Dr. Idries discusses his third day on the Twin Doctor’s Travel Bag medical mission.

Zaatari. Jordan Medical Mission.

Idries Abdur-Rahman, MD, FACOG

Dr. Idries Day #3-ZATAARI:

Today was the day that I knew would be the most impactful, today was the day that I would go to the Zaatari refugee camp.  The Zaatari refugee camp is located in Al Mafraq approximately 40 miles northeast of Amman and only 4 miles from the Syrian border. Zaatari was never designed to be a longterm solution and it’s current population of more than 80,000 people (camp was designed for a maximum of 60,000) are situated on a parcel of land measuring only 2 miles by 1.5 miles. Over the years, Zaatari has almost become a self contained city and with only rare exceptions the Jordanian government no longer allows residents to regularly leave it’s confines.  There are 24 schools in Zaatari for the more than 25,000 children (meaning an average of 1,000 students per school).  Thanks to many governmental agencies and NGOs there are multiple medical centers within the camp as well as food and sanitation facilities and services. Despite the basic services available to residents of Zaatari, services that other non-camp refugees can’t access, life there is by no means easy.  Most homes consist of a small, single-room shipping container with corrugated metal roofs, all of the roads are un paved (making for a very dusty environment leading to tons of respiratory illnesses) and privacy is virtually nonexistent. Many of the residents have been in Zaatari for years and most of the children know no life before Zaatari. The residents of the camp have no idea when (or if) they will ever leave or if they will ever see their homeland again.

Zaatari. Jordan Medical Mission

The vast expanse of Zaatari.

 

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Jordan, Moses and the Promised Land

  • April 6, 2016

Jordan, Moses and the Promised Land
Dr. Jamil and Dr. Idries take some time out from their Syrian refugee medical mission to visit some of Jordan’s historical biblical sites.

Idries and Jamil photoshoot 1 Jordan, Moses and The Promised Land

By Dr. Jamil and Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman

 

rough neighborhood Jordan, Moses and the Promised Land

Jordan is in a rough neighborhood

Jordan, a country whose official name is the “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”, is a small Arab nation bordered by Israel and Palestine to its west, Saudi Arabia to its southeast, Iraq to its northeast and Syria to its direct north. Despite it’s location sandwiched amongst some of the world’s hottest conflict zones, Jordan remains a relative oasis of peace, calm and stability. Jordan officially became independent of British influence in 1946, and it has existed as an independent constitutional monarchy since that time. Today, Jordan has a population of well over 6.5 million people; with 4 million Jordanians living in the capital city of Amman.

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Jordan Medical Mission Day 1-Idries

  • April 5, 2016

Jordan Medical Mission Day 1-Idries
Dr. Idries discusses his first day on the Twin Doctor’s Travel Bag medical mission.

Idries photoshoot 2

Idries Abdur-Rahman, MD, FACOG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Idries Day #1-IRBID:

The first official day of my Jordanian medical mission was spent in the city of Irbid. With a population of over one million, Irbid is the second largest city in Jordan (after Amman). Located only 12 miles from the Syrian boarder, Irbid has one of Jordan’s largest refugee populations numbering more than 136,000 at last count. As the Syrian crisis continues to develop, more than 1,000,000 refugees have crossed the boarder into Jordan, a country that itself only has a population of about 6,000,000. While the Jordanian government initially provided medical and financial support to refugees, as the refugee numbers continued to swell the government could no longer sustain the burden financially. Ultimately the Jordanian government stopped providing refugees with financial and medical assistance while also making it illegal for them to find employment (in a bid to reduce the already high level of native Jordanian unemployment, about 20%). To make matters worse, refugees living outside of the organized refugee camps cannot receive foreign governmental nor NGO aid. The ultimate result is a situation in which refugees living outside of refugee camps have little or no resources to provide for their daily needs much less to seek even the most basic of medical services. This guaranteed that our first day in Irbid would indeed be a busy one.

The total team for this mission consisted of 65 medical professionals including primary care and specialty physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, acupuncturists and photo journalists. Each day we were split between 8 different locations and my first day was spent at a clinic in Irbid. The Irbid medical team for the day included myself, a dentist from Manchester in the UK, an ER physician from Tacoma, Washington, an Internist from Los Angeles, California and a Pediatrician from Houston, Texas. The 75-minute ride from our hotel in central Amman to Irbid was dominated by sometimes heated discussions about what lead to the Syrian crisis, who was ultimately responsible, what the relationship was between the Assad government and the rise of ISIS in Syria (and elsewhere) and the political reasoning behind the virtual silence and inaction of the US, the EU and the most of the western world when it comes to the Syrian conflict. With such lively discussion, we reached Irbid in no time.

Irbid (Jordan Medical Mission)

Dr. Idries’ vest and ID.

 

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New Delhi and the Semi-Nude Massage

  • March 24, 2016

New Delhi and the Semi-Nude Massage
Dr. Jamil and Dr. Idries wrap up their final day in India by touring New Delhi and by getting semi-nude massages before then flying back home to Chicago.

By Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman and Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman
The Twin Doctors Travel Bag

 

Having already toured Old Delhi immediately after our arrival to the Indian capital city; our fourth and final day in India started with a tour of the more contemporary New Delhi. And so, after taking quick showers and getting a bite to eat at the hotel’s breakfast buffet, we checked out of the hotel bright eyed and bushy tailed; with our booties clean, our bellies full and our luggage in tow. And for those of you who read the end of our last blog entry “The Taj and Agra’s Mighty Sheroes”, you may be wondering whether or not the following day’s breakfast buffet was either frustrating or disappointing? Well, we are glad to report that the breakfast buffet was neither frustrating or disappointing. Instead, the breakfast buffet was one of those universally recognizable “all-you-can-eat” buffet’s that we portly Americans know and love. There was none of the sacrilege from the night before. There was no perversion of the principle “all-you-can-eat”, and there was no artsy interpretation of how food at a buffet should be presented. No, instead there were just pre-warmed plates, piles of food sitting and waiting to be plucked from beneath smoldering heat lamps and pre-poured drinks. Drinks, that would not be long for this world if we had anything to say about it. And, as these two unashamed, unabashed, self-deprecating greedy pigs made up for the farce that was the previous night’s “buffet”, all again was well in our world.

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The Taj and Agra’s Mighty Sheroes

  • March 6, 2016

The Taj and Agra’s Mighty Sheroes
Dr. Jamil and Dr. Idries tour the Indian city of Agra where they visit the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort and female survivors of acid attacks.

By Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman and Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman
The Twin Doctors Travel Bag

Day # 3 in India began promptly at 8AM when our driver for the day met us, as planned, in the hotel lobby. After exchanging pleasantries, we all made our way from the lobby outside to his waiting car. The car, which looked like an early model 2000 or 2001 off white Toyota Corolla was clean both inside and out. It also appeared to be well maintained, safe, and certainly up to the task of transporting us from Delhi to Agra. Agra, a city of 1.7 million people that sits just 3 hours to the southeast of Delhi. Agra, home to the Agra Fort, the Taj and “Agra’s Mightly Sheroes”. Now if you don’t know who the “Sheroes” of Agra are, don’t worry, you soon will. And believe us when we tell you that these young women are nothing short of amazing and inspirational!

Our driver for the day was a fairly tall and slender man of about 6 feet or so. He wore a neatly pressed khaki uniform that looked like something an old Communist Chinese soldier might wear; and his face sported very prominent cheek bones that were supported by a broad and rugged square chin.

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The Taj and Agra’s Mighty Sheroes – a Snapshot

  • March 6, 2016

The Taj and Agra’s Mighty Sheroes – A Snapshot
Dr. Jamil and Dr. Idries provide a snapshot of their “The Taj and Agra’s Mighty Sheroes” blog.

By Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman
The Twin Doctors Travel Bag

We began our third day in India with an early morning drive from our hotel in Delhi to Agra, India’s 19th largest city. Before setting out however, as we walked to our waiting car, we were treated to an impromptu street performance by a young Indian boy. He looked like he was about 6 years old, and both his clothes and his rich brown skin were dirt stained. He wore an amusing looking blue beanie cap that had a fuzzy yellow ball attached to it by a small red string. This little guy was a fleet footed little jester; a comedic virtuoso of the Delhi streets, who entertained us by dancing, gyrating and gesticulating; all while making funny facial expressions that demonstrated a comedic timing that was advance beyond his years. Once his performance was complete, we gave him a few Rupees and a high five to say “thanks” for getting our day off to an awesome start! After that,  we jumped into our car and headed for Agra.

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Stranded at the Airport in Delhi – A Snapshot

  • February 27, 2016

Stranded at the Airport in Delhi – A Snapshot
Dr. Jamil and Dr. Idries provide a short “snapshot” summary of their “Stranded at the Airport in Delhi” blog.

By Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman
The Twin Doctors Travel Bag

AI 348 Stranded at the airport in Delhi

Air India 348 boarding for Delhi

Next stop Delhi stranded at the airport in Delhi

Next stop, Delhi!!!

Day 2 of our Indian adventure began with an early morning flight 740 miles north, to the capital city of Delhi. The flight, operated by an Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner took just over an hour and a half, putting us at Indira Gandhi International Airport a little after 10AM. With only 2 full days planned in Delhi, we made arrangements before leaving Mumbai to have both a car and a tour guide meet us at Indira Gandhi International Airport. That way we could head straight out from the airport and immediately tour both historic Old Delhi and contemporary New Delhi. Unfortunately, neither our prearranged car or our prearranged tour guide bothered to show up to the airport; forcing us to quickly devise an impromptu Plan B.  This Plan B saw us strike a pose, sporting our “I can’t believe that we’re stranded at the airport in Delhi” sad faces before then quickly getting on with things; heading straight out of the airport and into a local taxi. A taxi as it turns out that was sans both air conditioning and an English speaking driver.

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