As Bombs Fell, Gaza Doctors Persisted

March 16, 2009 ANERA
Emergency Response, Gaza, Health, Humanitarian Relief, In-Kind Medical and Relief
Dr Shawqi treating a young patient at the El-Shaaf Clinic in Gaza. Dr Shawqi treats a young patient.

ANERA delivered health care supplies and medicines, donated by AmeriCares, to health clinics and hospitals in Gaza.

Every corner of Gaza has a story to tell after 22 consecutive days of war. With much of Gaza buried in wreckage and dust, it might be difficult to see more than destruction and heartache, but ANERA’s long-time beneficiary El-Shaaf Clinic, located in the middle of Gaza, is witness to much more: families who are suffering are finding some relief.

Dr Shawqi Rawaq, who volunteers along with his colleague, Maher, to serve in this affected area, never left his position at El-Shaaf Clinic during the war. When the clinic had to close temporarily for safety reasons, he erected a tent in a safer place to remain available to people in need of medication.

He never stopped offering treatment to patients.

Despite the bombings, doctors like Shawqi Rawaq never left their positions.

The clinic is again opening its doors daily to offer health services for the whole neighborhood. The war has terribly affected this already poor and crowded neighborhood. Many houses were reduced to rubble and most of the ones still standing have no windows, doors or roof tops.

At the door of the clinic people, many holding babies, wait in long lines for their turn to see the doctor. “During the fighting, desperate people came asking always about when the clinic would be open,” said Dr Shawqi.

Back inside his diagnosis room, the doctor not only checks on his patients, but also listens to their stories. Tasneem, a three-month-old girl, came with her mother as she suffers skin infection. “My house has no windows or doors and it is cold outside. My house was in the middle of the conflict and I had to evacuate to stay safe,” said the mother. “I had to take Tasneem to my sister’s house. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find diapers in the market had no water to keep my child clean. It was a terrible time.”

The patients’ response to the AmeriCares donation of health care supplies and medicines is tremendous, especially among jobless parents who need medication for their children but can’t afford it. “The price of this ointment is very high – around $15 a bottle. It is way too much for us to pay. If I didn’t know about the free medication in the clinic, I am not sure what I would have done,” said the mother.

ANERA’s delivery includes antibiotics, pain, blood pressure and cardiovascular medicines, supplies for emergency care, dermatologic analgesics, syringes, eye drops, and much more.

“We thank ANERA,” says Dr Shawqi, “for offering these services and for the continual work it does to help the needy. I also am glad to bring to light some of the stories of my patients who suffered so much in Gaza, before and during the fighting. There will be many more stories and a lot more work to do.”

ANERA thanks Dr. Shawqi for all of his work. Together, we are striving to bring some relief back into the picture.

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