The odds of coming across a pregnant engineer supervising a project to renovate a hospital’s postnatal department are low, but not in Bethlehem.
ANERA engineer Noor Abu Eisheh, though pregnant with twins, has been supervising the renovation project at Holy Family Hospital. “Being pregnant and working as a site supervising engineer on a renovation project is no easy task,” she laughs.
But she says her pregnancy has given her insight into what makes a good postnatal department.“It takes a lot of effort for me to do this job, but I would never use my pregnancy as an excuse not to. On the contrary, it will help me. I want to be able to do my job fully without anybody’s assistance,” Noor insists. Noor lives in Hebron and travels about 40 kilometers a day to and from the project site.
Noor graduated from the Polytechnic University in Hebron in 2004. She says it was always her dream job to become a civil engineer but it needed hard work and lots of convincing her family, who didn’t see Civil engineering as a career for women. But she was determined. “Being an engineer brings together lots of good ingredients, from learning about structure, design and management, to learning work ethics and how to treat different segments of a society,” she explains. Eventually, Noor started working for Al-Remah General Contracting Company on a USAID-funded project implemented by ANERA in Halhul near Hebron, to finish work on Maneen Primary School.
“In order to provide the Holy Family Hospital with the ability to provide better postnatal care, USAID decided to renovate the hospital’s postnatal department, and contracted Al-Remah to do the work.” The company was required to submit several resumes to ANERA for the selection of a contractor site engineer to work in tandem with ANERA’s own engineers. Given her good work experience in Halhul, Noor was selected to work on the project. Moreover, as a woman, she would have the added advantage of being able to handle any cultural sensitivities during the renovation of the postnatal department. This was a key concern because implementation of the project would go ahead while the department and hospital continued to operate.
Noor describes her current work as a dream job. In addition to benefiting from working with ANERA’s experienced engineers, she adds That being a female engineer and a pregnant mother is a win-win strategy for the beneficiaries. “I can always put myself in their shoes,” Noor explains. She can empathize with the patients and takes it upon herself to make sure the workers apply all USAID safety requirements and complete their work to the best standards. Because the hospital is still operating, workers toil around the clock to finish as quickly as possible. But Noor says they ask the workers to cut down the noise after 7 pm so the patients can get their rest.
“I love to see the beneficiaries happy and smiling. It makes a big difference,” Noor declares. “I am so happy about this project, thanks to USAID and ANERA, because it benefits so many people.” She continues, “This project in specific targets the postnatal department, which is very important because you can find maternity wards in almost every hospital, but not postnatal departments.”
With USAID funding of $455,000, ANERA is renovating the entire postnatal department, which includes 16 patient rooms, hallways, a nurse’s station, kitchenette, changing room, cleaning room and reception area.