Since coming to Jordan as a young Australian missionary nurse in 1956, Aileen Coleman has worked tirelessly to bring healing and the love of Christ to the people. The nomadic Bedouin tribes affectionately call her “A’Raiisa,” meaning leader, or “The Angel of the Desert,” though she calls herself the Desert Rat!
Aileen was born in Bundaberg, Australia – the youngest of seven children. Her relationship with Christ began when she attended a tent revival meeting in college. That surprise encounter with the Lord changed the course of Aileen’s life by directing her into medicine. In 1951, she graduated from Queensland University with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Nursing. She went on to obtain a Masters degree in Nursing Education & Administration.
After her nursing education, Aileen attended Bible College in Victoria, Australia. It was there she heard the call to become a missionary. In 1956, she took up a post as a nurse and administrator at Baraka Hospital near Bethlehem – then a part of Jordan. These experiences affected her deeply and confirmed her path as a missionary to the Jordanian people. While stationed at Baraka, she pursued an Honours Bachelor Degree in Classical Arabic from a London University, and has since become completely fluent.
Aileen’s more than 40 years of leadership and service at the Annoor Sanatorium in Mafraq, where she oversees a 50-bed inpatient hospital and clinic treating chronic chest diseases such as tuberculosis and other chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma, have endeared her to the people of her adopted country. The Bedouin have made her an official blood brother, and in 1989, Queen Noor al Hussein presented her with the Queen’s Medal in honor of Aileen’s ongoing medical services to the Kingdom of Jordan. In 2000, King Abdullah II gave Aileen the King Hussein Medal of Honor for her “service of mercy and healing to the citizens of Jordan.”
Aileen and the sanatorium enjoy a close relationship with the royal family and have an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to the Jordanian people in the name of Jesus. Aileen has also been honored by her native Australia. In 1990, she was made a Member of the Order of Australia by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.Despite her many honors and much public praise, Aileen is a humble woman whose primary satisfaction comes from the impact her work has on her Bedouin brothers and sisters. By God’s grace, the Annoor Sanatorium continues to seek out the lost sheep and to minister to the Bedouin people with physical healing and real love.