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'Proud to be Egyptian, Muslim and an American citizen'
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Photo: Paul Colletti
Dr. Ahmed Khalafallah, originally from Egypt, practices internal medicine at Trinity Moline and keeps a wall of his office filled with photos of his patients ages 90 and older.
Dr. Ahmed Khalafallah describes his experience moving to the United States as culture shock.

When he left Egypt in 1986 to join two brothers in Concord, Calif., what he found was a much more relaxed way of life and too much freedom.

"I was also surprised by the system of everything, how well organized it all was," Dr. Khalafallah said. "People pay their taxes on time, drive in the right lane and the system of medicine."

Dr. Khalafallah is an internal medicine physician with Trinity Medical Arts Group in Moline, specializing in elderly care.

In his office is a wall of photos of patients aged 90 and older. There are so many, he's running out of wall space. He said his oldest patient is Glen Brown, 104, of Aledo.

Dr. Khalafallahsaid his strong work ethic comes from his upbringing in Egypt."We used to work hard. It was a rough, difficult childhood."

Born near the Nile River in a small village called Meet Yaesh, his father was a farmer and businessman, growing corn, rice and cotton. After walking three miles home from school, he and his brothers helped their father on the farm, sometimes in 100-degree temperatures.

"I was raised Muslim and with good work ethic; these are the two main facets to my personality," Dr. Khalafallah said.

His faith played a strong role while growing up, with focus on the holidays of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.Ramadan is the annual rite of fasting for 30 days from dawn until sunset to strengthen spiritual devotion, self-control and learn empathy for the less fortunate.

Eid al-Fitr is the celebration of breaking the fast. It involves a special prayer and large feast with family members and gifts. Foods include a variety of meats, falafel (ground chickpeas rolled into a ball and fried) and mashi (grape leaves rolled with rice and garlic mint sauce).

His father was a strong believer in education, and Dr. Khalafallah was the top student in his class. Two brothers are engineers in California and another is a doctor in Saudi Arabia.

The family moved to Cairo when Dr. Khalafallah was 15, so his older brothers could attend college.

After graduating from Cairo Medical School, he moved to California where he worked as a physician's assistant for three years. Then he moved to Philadelphia to accept a residency in internal medicine. At the end of his residency, he was recruited to Mercer County Hospital in Aledo.

Dr. Khalafallah became an American citizen in 1991."I am very proud to be Egyptian, Muslim and an American citizen," he said. "I appreciate the opportunity and success in the United States."

During a visit to Egypt in 1993, he met his wife, Ebtesam, who also is Egyptian. They have three children: Dena, 17, a pre-med student at Augustana College; Rommy, 15, a sophomore at Moline High School; and Shaddy, 12, a seventh-grader at Wilson Middle School.

The family moved to Moline in 2001 when Dr. Khalafallah accepted his current position at Trinity Hospital.

He said they are raising their children with knowledge of the Arabic language and said they understand him very well but respond mostly in English.

Two sisters still live in Egypt, and Dr. Khalafallah has taken his family to visit them several times, saying his kids love it there.

As is Muslim custom, Dr. Khalafallah and his family pray five times a day, but never at work or school. The family attends Friday services at the Islamic Center of the Quad Cities in Moline.

Dr. Khalafallah said there are at least 50 Muslim physicians in the Quad-Cities.

Dr. Khalafallah's Egyptian culture and Muslim faith also play a large part in his children's lives. They also participate in Ramadan, even fasting through school and sports events.

"Both my roots and my religion give me the basis to serve the community to the best of my ability," Dr. Khalafallah said. "I treat my patients the way I want to be treated if I am sick."

Egypt
-- Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea north of Sudan, and includes the Asian Sinai Peninsula.

-- Population:83,688,164 (July 2012 estimate). No. 15 in the world.

-- Languages:Arabic (official); English and French widely understood by educated classes.

Source: CIA World Factbook.




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