Palestinian refugee doctor gives hope to patients in southeastern Turkey

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 14.03.2019 20:42
Updated 14.03.2019 21:02
emAA Photo/em
AA Photo

A Palestinian doctor who was raised in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank has been serving patients in southeastern Turkey's Diyarbakır for a year now after graduating from Istanbul University's Faculty of Medicine.

Nouraldin Almaghalsa, who received Turkish citizenship two years ago and changed his name to Nurettin Cerrah, was born in 1981 in Al Fawwar refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and came to Turkey for the university education in 2000 after graduating from high school.

After receiving seven months of Turkish language education in the capital Ankara, Cerrah entered Istanbul University's medical school. He went on to specialize in orthopedics at Baltalimanı Metin Sabancı Osteopathic Training and Research Hospital in the Sarıyer district on the European side of Istanbul.

Cerrah, who married a Turkish woman and has two children, has been working at Dr. Yusuf Azizoğlu Silvan State Hospital in Diyarbakır province for a year now.

Baki Kılıç, a fellow employee at the hospital, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Cerrah "is an excellent person both in terms of profession and personality. He treats patients very well."

Cerrah said he has achieved his dream of being a doctor in Turkey – a dream of helping others that was inspired by the difficult times he experienced during his 17 years in a refugee camp.

He said that he is doing his best to help others and that his greatest happiness is helping people recover from sicknesses.

Cerrah has been in Turkey for 19 years and he said the country has become a second home to him.

"Palestine is my motherland but I feel like a Turk. I've spent most of my life in Turkey. I haven't once felt like a foreigner in Turkey for 19 years. People from all parts (of Turkish society) show empathy toward Palestinians," he said.

Cerrah said that one of the most poignant moments of his life in Turkey was his marriage, since his wife's family showed extraordinary tolerance toward him despite his lack of financial means.

"The most meaningful day in Turkey for me was the day I went to ask for the blessing of my wife's family for our marriage. I didn't have the money to buy a diamond ring. I was very touched when my father-in-law told me that he bought a diamond ring and said, 'Take this.' I will never forget this gesture that my father-in-law did. I am very grateful for all (my wife's) family members," Cerrah said.

Cerrah said he came to Diyarbakır for compulsory service but has no intention to leave the city as he likes the historical aspects of the city along with the developments that have been made in recent years.

"Diyarbakir is an ancient city; I was very impressed. Despite the end of my compulsory service period, I and my family do not want to return to Istanbul," he noted.

Turkey as a state and a nation has always stood beside the Palestinians, Cerrah said, adding, "I thank the Turkish people and the government on behalf of my family and all Palestinians."

"Like the millions of Palestinians living abroad I always dream of return," Cerrah said, noting that his misses his homeland.

"I would like the establishment of an independent Palestine with its capital Jerusalem and to be able to go to Jerusalem and Palestine freely. My biggest dream is to travel freely in Palestine with my children and my wife," he said.

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