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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gaza Convoy Presses On

Islamic Relief USA staff member Anwar Khan is in Gaza with an international delegation visiting some of our projects and beneficiaries. He shared tearful reflections with USA staff via teleconference, and is sharing his stories with supporters below.

November 3- Yesterday was physically and emotionally trying, but the human spirit in adversity was inspiring. We visited Al Shifa clinic in the South. The medical director was thanking us for coming to Gaza and he felt they were not alone. He thanked all the Arab, Muslim and friends of other faiths who had come during and after the crisis for their help.

He explained how the hospital was overflowing with patients in the first half hour of the bombing. Patients were placed on the floor, bleeding and waiting for help. Staff risked their lives to come to work. Some lost their families and took of the funeral and came straight to work. At this point he was interrupted by a local who mentioned that the doctors own 21-year-old son was killed in the bombardment. The doctor buried his son and continued treating patients in the hospital the same day. At this point, the doctor had a tear in his eye, but then showed us a photo of his son on his mobile phone. He smiled and then continued with the needs of the children in Gaza.

We then visited the blood donor ward, the fluoroscopy lab and the Intensive Coronary Care Unit. We visited many sick children and were told that because of the closed border this hospital was for many children their only hope.

The next visit was to a water pump. Islamic Relief Palestine had to drill with the local partner 90 meters to get water and treat the water with chlorine, before it was safe to drink. 90% of Gazans do not have access to drinking water from their faucets and 30% do not even have access to regular water, even if it is not drinking water.

Next was a children's center where Islamic Relief is providing fortified milk shakes and cookies, which are an essential source of calcium and vitamins to the children.

Our final visit was to a University where we provided science equipment. The campus had been damaged in the bombardment, this equipment was away being repaired at the time of the bombardment, so was not destroyed. Now it is relocated in a different building.

Our delegation was amazed at the can-do attitude and lack of complaining in the face of insurmountable odds. We don't need to pity them, but respect them for trying to make the best of a difficult situation.

November 4- The international delegation left today after we visited the Islamic Relief warehouses. We inspected the emergency items we have ready for the next emergency. We know it is a matter of when, not if the emergency will come. On this trip, we have seen some neighborhoods in the north that have been destroyed. It was as if a tsunami had washed everything away. In other neighborhoods, some buildings were destroyed and some neighborhoods were relatively unscathed.

The international delegation was delayed at the border on their return. That is not a good sign for me, but they made it back safely.

I had a meeting with some of our staff today and was told stories of how some had to bury their loved ones and then went immediately to work. I wish they could come to the U.S. to tell their stories of delivering humanitarian aid during the conflict, but they, like most of the Gaza population, are not able to leave.

November 5- Today, we visited some of the poorest families we are sponsoring in Gaza. We give them food rations for three months, but they consume them in two months. The food rations are for 7 in a family. There were between 11 and 15 family members in the families we visited today.
In one family, there were three generations living in one house. One of the daughters, 27, became a widow at the age of 19and now has moved back home with her seven-year-old twins. Her eleven-year-old brother has a hole in his heart and none of the adults are able to get jobs.

Ahmed and Younis are both orphan brothers that Islamic Relief is sponsoring. They are disabled and their mother has to look after them and their older brother who is suffering from cancer. Their sponsorship payment goes mostly to pay for their medical visits and medicine. Their building was damaged earlier this year during the bombardment. They are just surviving and cannot repair the one room they all live in.

You can help. Donate today.

1 comment:

  1. i am sad to hear of our brothers sufferings however what is being said by the islamic relief usa tochange thehostile attitude of hamas and hizbollah towards israel and their goal to kill israelis.. we must live in peace with our neighbours allowing all children in the middle east to pursue happiness and fulfill their potential..otherwise this picture of sufferring and poverty will be all peoples legacy thanks steve