Sitting high on a hilltop overlooking olive groves and citrus orchards, the Hariri Medical Centre, Sidon was built to give the people of South Lebanon a centre of clinical excellence and learning. This was July 1983 and optimism surrounding the project was high - needless to say this was short lived.

The Israeli Defence Forces withdrew from Beirut to a point just north of Sidon, thus blockading this busy fishing port with it�s Phoenician history. Tensions mounted as the security situation worsened.

Now ambulances had to negotiate several military checkpoints as they travelled to Beirut through the spectacular scenery of the Chouf Mountains a difficult journey taking over 6 hours, instead of the 45 minute journey on the main highway. As part of the winning "hearts and minds" programme, trucks laden with fresh fruit and veg, bound for the markets of Beirut, were purposefully delayed at checkpoints long enough for the goods to perish.

Militias wearing t-shirts emblazoned with KILL EM ALL � LET GOD SORT EM OUT did little for our peace of mind. So began my time in the Lebanon.