On Friday, May 10, 2019, Hewa Faiq Omar and Faiza Essa Toma, two nurses working in Malteser International projects in Iraq received awards for their exceptional service. The awards were presented during a ceremony held by Nurses With Global Impact to commemorate International Nurses Day at the United Nations.
Hewa Faiq Omar currently works with governmental health facilities under the Directorate of Health (DoH) in Dohuk, Iraq. He has also been committed to the humanitarian cause through Malteser International's partner organization DAMA, often taking long emergency shifts in camps for displaced people to make sure the injured and sick receive the best medical care.
Sixty-one year old Faiza lives in Dohuk, Iraq and is the mother of three. She has dedicated her life to helping others since she became a certified nurse in 1977. Faiza knew from a young age that she would become a nurse. After high school, she entered the Nursing academy and soon after graduation, she began her nursing career at a maternity hospital. In 1981, Faiza was promoted to chief nurse and was responsible for training nurses in Ibn Sina Hospital in Mosul. With over 40 years of experience working as a nurse in Iraq, Faiza has seen a lot, but nothing prepared her to the violent loss of her three-year-old grandson.
The tragedy happened in 2010. Faiza was living in Mosul, Iraq. As a Christian woman, she began receiving threats from Islamic extremists to leave her property, otherwise she would have to pay them off. She did not respond to the threats. A few months later, she was the target of an assassination attempt. A bomb exploded at her doorstep, killing her grandson and critically burning her body. Faiza underwent 14 surgeries to save her left arm alone. Faiza received financial support from her community and the neighboring mosque to rebuild her house. Four years later, her house was destroyed again when the Islamic State (IS) took control of Mosul.
In June 2014, IS declared a Caliphate in Iraq and seized control of Mosul. The group targeted Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks and many other groups for persecution, destroying their homes and places of worship, as well as historical sites. Six million people were forcibly uprooted from their homes as a result of IS terror. Although the conflict between the government and IS is now over, unpredictable dynamics continue to affect humanitarian operations throughout the country. As of November 2018, more than 6 million people living in areas affected by conflict were dependent on humanitarian
When IS took over Mosul, Faiza had to leave her life behind and flee. She began working as a volunteer nurse in a health center in Dohuk Governate, Iraq. Since 2015, Faiza has been working as a clinical nurse in the health center of the Bersive II camp for internally displaced persons, which is supported by Malteser International through funds from Germany's Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). There, she has been providing psychosocial support to both IS victims and victims of sexual assault.
Despite all the tremendous difficultly and loss, Faiza is a symbol of strength and resilience. She has never lost sight of her commitment to help others heal following injury, illness, and abuse. She is truly a beacon of light for so many people in communities impacted by war.
Nurses with Global Impact is an initiative with a mission to connect, support and celebrate the work of nurses around the world, bringing visibility to nurses doing extraordinary work and their projects that make a global impact on healthcare. The initiative sponsors the International Nurses Day event at the United Nations annually to commemorate nursing’s founder, Florence Nightingale’s birth. Unfortunately, the honorees were not able to attend the event due to visa restrictions. Their awards were conferred in absentia and received by Ravi Tripptrap, Executive Director of Malteser International Americas.