OPT: Life-saving medicine - The bird of mercy never dies

In the middle of Gaza stands the statue of a giant bird. A local legend says the bird rises to life again from its ashes soon after its death. While legends rarely come true, the shipment of medical supplies ANERA was able to send into Gaza in late June went a long way toward restoring life to Palestinians who needed care but were unable to leave and seek treatment abroad.

Instead, they must rely on medicines from local clinics and hospitals but these have been difficult to deliver due to the restless political situation. However, following tremendous efforts and coordination with Israelis, ANERA was able to send an AmeriCares shipment into Gaza. Mostafa, ANERA's warehouse manager said: "We finally managed to receive the supplies. This shipment had been stuck at the border for 40 days. We've had difficulties and delays for a long time." The shipment contains an assortment of medicines, vitamins, baby kits, bath cloths and antibiotics and was quickly distributed to 18 clinics and hospitals throughout Gaza.

One of the major recipients was the Patients' Friends Benevolent Society, which offers medical assistance to marginalized and impoverished people (and exempts 15 percent of its patients from any payments at all.) Last month, the Society performed 250 surgical operations and provided broader relief to 6,000 patients. The Society maintains branches in several poor, densely-populated neighborhoods as well as a hospital that operates 24 hours and clinics that are open 18 hours a day.

Ossama Abu Hashish, the Society's pharmacist and warehouse manager said, "The medical supplies delivered by ANERA cover more than 50 percent of shortages we have, especially the antibiotics. They are vital, first-class medications. One quality donation was an asthma inhaler, a life-saving product commonly used by patients with respiratory problems. In the summer, we receive fewer patients, but winter is coming and that's when we see more people with asthma."

The clinic's pharmacy counters are filled with medications, a testament to the shipment's recent arrival. Naheel Dalool works in the pharmacy and can't help but show how moved she is when a mother comes in with her child and a doctor's prescription. The woman finds the bottle of vitamins she needs, studies it then returns it to the counter. She doesn't think she can pay for it.

She is surprised when Naheel picks up the vitamins, hands them to her and tells her the bottle is free of charge. The supplies that just arrived are available either at low prices or, for those who can't afford it, at no cost. After the woman has gone, Naheel said, "The new school year will start very soon. Gaza is suffering from a very difficult economic situation and people can't bear many expenses. This was a great morning. Her smile makes my day. We would like to thank our generous donors who give so generously and help us restore happiness and hope of our patients. We also are happy that, despite the difficulties in moving supplies across the border, ANERA was able to get these medicines into Gaza."

Despite the fact that legends rarely come true, the statue of the bird in Gaza reminds locals that life can be restored through the loving hands of mercy. It is a bird that soars freely over borders, across to people living on the edge of life.


American Near East Refugee Aid
To learn more about ANERA, please visit http://www.anera.org/.