Winter was harsh in Gaza, particularly for newborns and toddlers who don’t have the proper clothing to keep them warm and dry.
Frequent power outages cut home heating, making it difficult for many Palestinian mothers to keep their children healthy and warm.
“Winter brings a lot of suffering to our community’s poor,” said Dr. Iman Saed as she held six month old baby Alaa. Regular infant check-ups are a feature of the Near East Council of Churches (NECC) clinic’s “Well Baby Program.” The health clinic provides services for Gaza mothers and children from infancy through age six to detect anemia and other ailments that need treatment.
Alaa gets his blood analyzed and his length and weight measured. Dr. Saed is pleased that the tests results are normal, but she detects nasal congestion, which is common for infants in Gaza winters. “Most children who come here with similar symptoms are dressed in light clothing that hardly protects them from the weather,” she said.
Thanks to a generous donation from AmeriCares, that reality is changing for many. Anera has delivered hundreds of high quality winter jackets to children through the NECC clinic and three other health centers in Gaza – Ard El Insaan, Women’s Health Center, and Culture and Free Thoughts Society. The bright colored Patagonia jackets are well-made and provide much-needed warmth and protection from the freezing wind.
Alaa’s mother smiled as Dr. Iman handed her a prescription for his cold and then wrapped him in a bright green jacket. “It made my day to give the little ones colorful coats to make them smile and keep them warm.”
A Home Visit for Baby Obaida
Meanwhile, Nurse Siham is conducting a home visit for new mother Asmaa, and she has a surprise in hand. “When a mom safely delivers her baby, we visit her regularly to check on her health and examine the baby,” said Nurse Siham. “So I’m happy to be able to give them presents that are a help to their health too.”
The new mother Asmaa smiled with relief. “It is very difficult for me to cope with all our daily needs. My husband works hard from early morning till late in the night, but we barely eke out a living and can’t afford such good clothing.”
Asmaa lives with her husband and four children in a small house along with their extended family. So her family squeezes into one bedroom. She says they prepare food over a wood stove and there is no proper heating for the house. “So it is so nice to have warm clothes for my children.”
The children were delighted to show off their bright, colorful jackets to everyone around them. Nurse Siham added, “It relieves a financial burden for impoverished Gaza mothers who want to keep their children warm and healthy.”