Supporting and Building Anera’s Medical Aid Program

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I’ve been affiliated with Anera for 25 years now, as a donor and a board member. Because I’m a physician, I started working right away on the health committee headed up by the esteemed Dr. Vicken Kalbian, who has supported Anera from its earliest years.

Vicken Kalbian and Alfred Khoury

At the time that I first got involved, there was nothing called a medical donations program at Anera, but we regularly received and shipped medicines valued at a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Anera headquarters staff pack and inventory boxes of medicines bound for Lebanon
In the early days of Anera’s medical donation program, staff at headquarters in Washington, DC would sometimes prepare the boxes to be shipped. In this photo, from 1989, staff are finishing their inventory of a shipment bound for Lebanon.

Over time, Vicken and the health committee formalized these efforts and started the medical donations program. One of the biggest problems we had was distributing medicines in the West Bank and Gaza. At first, we had no systematic method to inventory or catalogue what we distributed. We desperately needed to fix that. So at a board meeting I offered $5,000 and asked others to donate to build a distribution center. We raised $60,000 on the spot! That’s how we established Anera’s distribution center in the West Bank.

Anera’s West Bank distribution center in Beitin, which Alfred Khoury and Anera’s medical committee made possible.

We used to raise our own funds for the shipping costs. Eventually Anera arranged it so our medical donors started paying for shipping. Now the program has really come along and organizations approach us to donate medications. This year is the strongest in our history for medical donations – 115 shipments in the past 12 months! I’m proud to see how much the program and Anera have grown over the years.

Plane cargo of donated medicines and medical supplies being unloaded.
A cargo plane of donated medicines and medical supplies being unloaded at the Beirut airport in the wake of the explosion that rocked Lebanon’s capital. This is one of many, worth multiple millions of dollars, that Anera arranged and distributed in Beirut after the tragedy.

The coronavirus brought inordinate challenges for everyone, not least the people of Lebanon. I went to university and received my medical degree in Beirut, so the city holds a special place in my heart. The virus, the explosion, and the economic crisis are all bearing down heavily on Lebanon.

And Palestine, the place of my birth and earliest years, continues to face the sadly familiar challenges of closures, settlement encroachments, and a weak economy. My father’s family comes from a small village called Nos Gibeil, near the city of Nablus. My mother’s family comes from Haifa, but they were forced to immigrate to Lebanon in 1948. My parents married and lived in Palestine, settling in the Beit Hanina area of Jerusalem, which is where I grew up.

It is a time for communities to support each other. I’ve been fortunate to be able to give back to Lebanon and Palestine, places that continue to mean so much to me. Please consider joining me in supporting Anera’s efforts to provide urgent relief and long-lasting opportunities.

View a film of Dr. Khoury speaking about his commitment to Anera >>

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