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Story Publication logo March 28, 2016

Reporter's Notebook: Wisconsin Doctors, Volunteers Arrive in Jordan for Medical Mission


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Tarif Bakdash spots his group's driver after clearing customs Saturday at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. Bakdash is leading a medical mission from Milwaukee to the Zaatari refugee camp that is home to about 80,000 Syrians who have fled the five-year-old civil war in their country. Image by Mark Hoffman. Jordan, 2016.

AMMAN, Jordan—After a long night of flying, members of a medical mission from Wisconsin shuffled out of the airport into a gorgeous sunset and boarded a bus for Amman. Our internal clocks were in disarray. It was roughly 9 am in Wisconsin.

The drive into the city passed barren fields. On a small patch of land between two main roads a man tended a large herd of sheep. There seemed to be few buildings on the outskirts of the city.

As we got closer to the city we passed the mosques and minarets. It was one of the five prayer times observed by Muslims each day.

The city itself loomed with familiar western landmarks—an Ikea, a Pizza Hut—but also signs in Arabic for grocery stores and pharmacies.

It was a familiar sight to Western eyes—at least it had seemed familiar from the photos. Then our bus reached the manned security gate at the entrance; the metal gate slid open heavily. Just inside the hotel were the metal detectors guests must walk through.

Tarif Bakdash, the pediatric neurologist leading the mission, settled into his room. One of the first things he did was set out his prayer rug and commence the sunset prayer.


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