"Like many people, I had been thinking about social justice. I felt like I had everything I needed. I thought, how can I use this spotlight on me to do something a little bit bigger than myself?" he recounts.
Intimately familiar with Lowell Community Health Center from his work at Lowell General, Aiham took to the internet and created a GoFundMe campaign.
"The Health Center has been serving patients for 50 years. These are our neighbors. I really connected with that. I thought others would too."
And did they! Aiham's campaign raised more than $3,000 from family, friends, and colleagues. "I was surprised and humbled," he says. Needless to say, we were too.
Aiham's own connection with the Health Center goes beyond a professional partnership. One Summer, his sister was visiting from abroad with his niece. The little girl started to run a fever. They were worried. But, where to go? They headed to Lowell CHC.
"I was really surprised how seamless it was. At the Health Center, it feels like people can slow down and see you, really see you."
Entering the building and living the patient experience first-hand also reinforced the sense of inclusiveness he had always associated with Health Centers. For Aiham, having been a patient at Fenway Community Health Center in Boston, it was a powerful and familiar feeling.
Aiham was a freshman in high school when his family arrived in Philadelphia from Syria. His English was good, but his mother was not as confident and he was often called in to help translate. Thankfully, they found a family doctor who was Lebanese.
"It felt safe and helpful to have someone who could really communicate with her - hand her back her own agency," he recalls.
Initially drawn to the liberal arts and social sciences, he majored in French at Haverford College. At that point, a career in medicine was only one of many possibilities. While studying abroad in Paris, he felt something shift when he happened upon an exhibit of drawings done by children in war-torn areas created by Doctors without Borders. "That really moved me," he recalls.
"I realized that health care is a space where you can bring so much of yourself, your creative, social self, your community. It's about being a human being."
So, Aiham headed to Temple University for Medical School. During his training, he was leaning towards Psychiatry, or even Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was not expecting to fall in love with Radiology.
"I realized that working in Radiology you can be a connector, work with all different disciplines, it was so challenging and exciting."
Speaking Arabic and French, in addition to English, also made him an invaluable "connector" when he later got the job at LGH. "Hearing a provider speak your language is really comforting," he says. "I'm so glad I can bring that to patients."
After a number of years in Boston, Aiham made the move to Chelmsford in 2017. Whether he's picking up his CSA from Mill City Grows or practicing yoga at Mill No. 5, Aiham has embraced Lowell's mix of urban and suburban. Having the Health Center in the heart of downtown feels like a symbol of this community he is proud to call home.
"It's really hard to think of another space where people from so many walks of life can come and be cared for - Lowell CHC feels like a health care sanctuary."