The narrow alleys of the Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus are home to 30,000 residents, although the camp was originally intended to serve just 5,000 Palestinian refugees.
The residents in Balata exist in a simple harmony despite the array of impediments they face in daily life. One of these residents is Fathieh, who is lying on a hospital bed at the Yazour Charitable Clinic, waiting to be checked by Dr. Majdi Hashah.
After being abandoned by her husband, 55 year-old Fathieh was left the responsibility of caring for her nine children on her own. Financial struggles and a son injured six separate times in encounters with the Israeli Army have only served to add to her stress. But Fathieh is determined to continue smiling, grateful in spite of the pain she must endure.
“Thank God for everything. We never realize the wisdom behind the pain until later on.”
Chronic Illness Soars in Balata Refugee Camp
Rampant unemployment and a level of food insecurity and poverty among the highest in the West Bank are just a few of the stresses that lead to chronic illnesses among residents in the camp. For five years, Fathieh has been suffering from hypertension, leading doctors to recommend several major operations to fix the problem. But surgeries are costly, and Fathieh’s financial situation meant she would continue having to rely on medical relief.
She struggles daily with stomach pains, which Dr. Hashah explained must be treated carefully due to her already poor stomach health and current medications.
Luckily, Anera delivered the medication that Fathieh and many other patients suffering similar symptoms need. Over 6,000 bottles of Pantoprazole, donated by AmeriCares, are being prescribed free-of-charge to patients who have little money.
Fathieh is saving almost $70 because she got a three-month supply of Pantoprazole at no cost. She walks out of the clinic carrying a plastic bag with medicines for hypertension and cholesterol as well as aspirin and her bottle of Pantoprazole.
Somehow she keeps her sense of humor, despite decades of physical and emotional hardship in Balata Refugee Camp where she lives.
When we asked to take her picture, she laughed, “Of course! Now I can say that I have tried everything I ever wanted to try.”