In Gaza, closed borders and the resulting poverty mean that children often do not have access to the essential nutrients they need to grow up in good health.
Bisan and Noura are two such children – sisters living in a very small house filled with nine family members. Their father is unemployed and their grandfather, a fisherman, provides for the whole family. He struggles to bring in enough food to keep everyone from going hungry.
Both girls suffer from malnutrition, but for Bisan the problem is especially acute since she has an illness which makes swallowing very difficult.
In October 2008, Anera was able to help Bisan, Noura and other suffering children through a donated shipment of a high-calorie nutritional drink mix – PediaSure.
Dr. Aed Yaghi, responsible for the medical programs one Gaza clinic, expresses his gratitude that these kinds of nutritional supplements are getting into Gaza and to the people who need it the most.
“We have tens of thousands of families who rely on humanitarian assistance,” he says. “And, if this siege is maintained, current steps to curb child malnutrition will not be enough. Child morbidity and mortality will both increase and we simply will not be able to cope.”
Looking at Bisan’s and Noura’s pale faces and skinny bodies, it is easy to see why Gaza children are waiting for humanitarian aid. Inside the house, their mother bakes bread and Noura sits beside her looking forward to the warm treat. But bread is not enough for a child in her formative years and the PediaSure adds badly needed caloric and nutritional substance to the meal.
“Both of our little ones really need it, especially Bisan, who can only eat food if it’s ground up first. Thank goodness the Pediasure is available to us,” said the girls’ grandmother.
This generous donation came from AmeriCares, which entrusts Anera with delivery of millions of dollars worth of health care supplies annually to the Middle East.