Inside Spafford Center’s multipurpose room in Bethany (Ezarriyeh in Arabic) some 50 women, men and children sit patiently waiting their turn at the welcome desk.
The “open day” is part of a campaign led by Saint John’s Eye Hospital to provide free eye exams for free. A staff of four diligently work to serve the patients.
The Spafford Center, whose main branch is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is a long-term Anera partner, dating back to 1998 when Anera provided the center with a $5,000 grant to improve the out-patient clinic. Currently, Anera is supporting Spafford’s work to improve the health, education and well-being of vulnerable Palestinian children and women in and around East Jerusalem.
Free Check-ups for Palestinian Families
After the construction of the separation wall and imposition of travel restrictions, the medical center extended its operations to Ezarriyeh just behind the wall, to continue serving its patients. The open day in Ezarriyeh is part of the outreach program to marginalized and isolated communities, providing health care for Palestinian families.
Today, Sabha Awwad is getting help from a social worker to fill out her forms as she waits to get her eyes checked. The 57-year-old housewife suffers from diabetes and says her eyesight is deteriorating but she has never had an eye exam until now.
I worry about my vision because of my disease. That’s why I hurried to register for an exam as soon as I heard about the open day at the clinic.
She admits she is a bit nervous. “I worry about my vision because of my disease. That’s why I hurried to register for an exam as soon as I heard about the open day at the clinic.”
Tala Dawani, Spafford’s Deputy CEO for Fundraising and Program Development, stresses the importance of the center’s outreach service. She says a large number of people tend to suffer through their condition without seeking help, especially if they live in isolated or marginalized communities.
Children also benefit from the open day free service. Dr. Wafa Sabbah gives two-year-old Amir, a routine check-up. He and his younger sister are regular patients.
“Cities like Ezarriyeh and Abu Dis are isolated from the rest of the West Bank by the separation wall and suffer from inadequate medical services, especially when it comes to childcare,” the 38-year-old pediatrician explains. “You don’t see a pediatrician often enough here so clinics usually rely on general practitioners or pharmacists to examine children.”
On this day, Amir doesn’t want to be checked, but Dr. Sabbah knows how to cheer him up. As she pulls out a few colorful balloons from her drawer, Amir’s teary eyes sparkle and his frown turns into a beautiful smile.
Cities like Ezarriyeh and Abu Dis are isolated from the rest of the West Bank by the separation wall and suffer from inadequate medical services, especially when it comes to childcare.
Spafford Serves Needy Communities around Jerusalem
Spafford Children’s Center has been serving impoverished and marginalized communities in and around the city of Jerusalem for over 100 years. It provides quality services that help develop children’s and youth’s cognitive, emotional and physical well-being. As part of Anera’s health program, the center provides free treatment and vaccination to 3,000 children.
Using a holistic therapeutic approach, the center also works with women, especially caretakers, to provide them training in child development and women’s empowerment — like child rearing, communicating with adolescents and economic advancement. The center holds group counseling sessions, and the Ezarriyeh branch offers gynecology services.