Since 2018, there has been a town twinning between Al Mohammara and Opfenbach in the Allgäu region of Germany, which was established with the help of the Initiative "Municipal Know-how for the Middle East" of Service Agency Communities in One world (SKEW). As a result of talks, consultations and workshops held between the municipality of Opfenbach and the municipality of Al Mohammara, it was agreed to support the municipality of Al Mohammara in the construction, equipment, and operation of the health centre. For this purpose, a local specialist was financed through SKEW’s “Expert Fund for Municipal Partnerships Worldwide”, also to improve coordination between the partner cities and local NGOs.
Ramia Assaad was recruited in July 2022. She is the perfect person for the job. Not only is she a certified national surveyor with accreditation in Canada, but she has also been responsible for accrediting health centres to international standards for the Lebanese Ministry of Health for the past ten years.
To finance the facility, especially the medical equipment, funds from SKEW's programme “Partnership Projects for Sustainable Local Development (Nakopa)” were applied for. No easy task for Christian Renn, responsible project manager in the Opfenbach municipal administration. In addition to coordination between the parties involved on the German side - KfW, SKEW and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ )- and various technical financial requirements, calculations had to be adjusted several times due to the dynamic economic situation.
A visit to the project participants in Opfenbach in September 2022 gave Ramia Assaad a boost for her work, and not only from a technical point of view: " Personally, I learned a lot from them during this journey. The sense of humanity, commitment and professionalism was impressive. They supported me during my work, encouraged me and listened to my concerns. My visit to Opfenbach gave me empowerment, everyone was showing sympathy and were very generous in their hospitality. Even though I come from different background, different religion, and different clothes, they treated me with respect and dignity. During my stay in Opfenbach we visited many administrative, educational, health and other institutions... I gained a lot of knowledge and made sure to pass on the good impression I had to my country. It was good to know that things can work, and that a well-designed and organized system can improve the well-being of individuals."