Haja Fatima has never let her disability hold her back. But she needs medicine to cope with her symptoms.
At just six months old, Haja Fatima was struck with polio virus. The virus is treatable by vaccination, but unfortunately, the polio vaccine was not available in Gaza at the time. She was left with weak muscles and physical disability for the rest of her life.
Despite this struggle, Fatima dedicates her life to serving her family and other children with disabilities. “I became a teacher for first-graders at a center for people with disabilities where I have also received treatment and services for myself,” she said.
We all need to believe in our abilities. I tell my students to fear nothing in this world, and that everyone has the potential to become the person he or she wants and dreams to be.
Fatima has never tired of teaching children Arabic, math and science. Even more inspiring, though, is when she teaches them other life skills such as confidence, trusting in their abilities and confronting any challenge that they may meet.
“We all need to believe in our abilities. I tell my students to fear nothing in this world and that everyone has the potential to become the person he or she wants and dreams to be.”
Donated Medical Aid Helps Ease Fatima's Suffering
Fatima’s health has worsened throughout the years and now the pain in her joints has become intolerable. She has tried taking different painkillers to sooth the pain, but they all were ineffective against her severe physical pain.
“She used different analgesics, but her body wasn’t responding,” said pharmacist Asma El Jarousha. “The pain wakes her at night and impacts her ability to work as a teacher.”
That was until Fatima's local clinic received a shipment of new medicines donated by Direct Relief. After trying a donated medicine used to treat pain and inflammation, Fatima's condition has improved. Finally, she began to feel the pain ease and was able to sleep at night.
The people of Gaza continue to suffer from catastrophic effects on their health due to a severe shortage of health care and medical supplies.
"I felt a huge difference,” Fatima said.
Although Fatima is considered privileged to have a job, her teacher’s salary hardly keeps her afloat. Her workplace is charitable and depends mainly on medical aid to serve the disabled community in Gaza City.
“Medicine—if available—is really expensive in private pharmacies and it’s not always the best quality,” said Fatima as she got on the school bus heading for classes. “We live day-to-day in Gaza. But you know I’ll keep smiling anyway.”