|Mothers and children at Al Ahli.
© ABM/Julianne Stewart 2013
October, 2015 – The Al-Ahli Arab hospital was established and continues to be run by the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and provides a tangible witness to the love of Christ in action. As part of the many services it delivers to the residents of the Gaza strip, Al Ahli provides a Child Nutrition program for vulnerable families.
Last year, this program was delayed following the outbreak of war between Hamas militants and the Israeli Defense Force. Despite several months of overwhelming causalities presenting for treatment, as well as enduring shelling against the hospital itself, the staff of Al Ahli showed a remarkable degree of commitment and resilience in re-launching the program after only four months.
This type of commitment is understandable, given the need that exists. According to a recent cross sectional study conducted by UNICEF and Vienna University, 29% of children in the Gaza strip suffer from stunting, as a result of malnutrition. Around 31% also suffer from anemia, with levels of iron and zinc reportedly at critically low levels in these children. Many more children are underweight, and suffer deficiencies in vitamin A, E and D. These problems were made more acute by the war in July 2014, which facilitated the closing of many borders, restricting access to food and basic goods, and the loss of many livelihoods in the economic collapse that followed.
The Child Nutrition program seeks to alleviate the suffering of these children, and provide support to families struggling to cope. Throughout the course of 3 months, children are given a complete medical assessment by an expert Pediatrician, and a program for nutritional support is developed. The hospital provides the necessary supplements, and monitors the children for signs of improvement. Treatment for illness and disease such as scabies, parasitic infection, bronchial asthma, rickets and congenital heart disease is also given free of charge, along with parental nutrition education for sustained health.
During her visit in 2013, ABM Programs Director Julianne Stewart was able to visit the hospital, and speak with the Hospital Director. Suhaila Tarazi spoke of the children, the families and the challenges of the context in which they all live. She displayed incredible faith despite these difficulties, citing that she wished to be a “living stone” for God’s service, demonstrating His compassion and love to all who come.
If you would like to support this vital work amongst the children of Gaza, donate here. Your compassion and assistance will make an enormous difference in the lives of the most vulnerable members of the Gaza strip.