(Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility has traveled to Gaza since 1993. Since 2009, following the Cast Lead invasion by Israel, WPSR has sponsored 12 medical delegations to serve the people of Gaza.)
Day five in Gaza
Basmat Amal Association for Cancer Care is one of the heroic NGOs serving Gaza. Maria was invited to join a group of women at this inspiring clinic to teach them skills that will help them cope with life here.
Among many activities, the Association provides free transportation from Gaza to specialized medical care in the West Bank and Israel, provides a creative camp for children, distributes food kits to cancer patients and provides cancer awareness and prevention seminars. Funding is constantly an issue – another challenge of the ongoing siege on Gaza.
Bob Haynes wrote about his time here:
My medical service in Gaza since 2009 has evolved from participating in cardiology clinics to teaching Advanced Cardiac Life Support courses.
The clinical work allowed me to have an intimate (but very brief) glimpse into the complicated course of cardiac illness and therapy in a country under siege. I remember the man with severe 3-vessel heart disease who was not allowed out of Gaza for a life-saving bypass surgery because his nephew had been jailed for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. The Israeli authorities blocked his transport – his whole family was punished and he subsequently died.
There are many others whose lives are placed in jeopardy because they cannot obtain much needed medicines. As someone said to me yesterday, “You can find everything in Gaza except money.”
Without the ability to sell vegetables and goods to Europe and the world, Gaza’s commerce has plummeted, and many fields lie fallow and people unemployed.
Teaching ACLS courses allows me to get to know a group of highly motivated students. This vigorous interactive course of material is not readily available in Gaza.
On the second day of the course last year, a student related with pride and gratitude that after the first day of the course, she had used the skills she had learned to help save the life of a man in the ER. That night, she was confident that she knew what to do!
Today, I discussed president-elect Trump and other current affairs with a bright young man who is taking intensive German language courses. He hopes that one day, he will be able to leave this small land and be able to experience for the first time the freedom unknown here.
I am grateful to be doing this work in Gaza. The people here have such generous hearts and inquisitive minds – it is a privilege to work here.
The people of Gaza give me hope.