Spring has always been a time of rejuvenation and hope for Palestinian villagers and farmers.
For Zahiya Zeidat, spring is the time when she is reminded of her younger self. Now homebound by arthritis, the 66-year-old widow recalls the golden times when she and her husband would herd their sheep and work their land tirelessly in the springtime.
To relieve her arthritis pain, Zahiya relies on anti-inflammatory medication. During a recent visit to her local charitable clinic, she was relieved to learn that it is in stock thanks to a donation delivered by Anera.
Although Zahiya lives alone, she is surrounded by family in her village of Bani Naim, near Hebron, West Bank. With nine children and 30 grandchildren, her home turns into a busy beehive around noon every day as the family gathers for lunch. "Children are the most beautiful thing in life." says Zahiya. But all the housework that accompanies these family visits takes a toll on her aching joints.
According to Dr. Raed Zeidat, Zahiya has always had pain in her spine and neck in addition to her joints. She also suffers from hypertension and kidney problems. Although surgery would be the ideal solution for her pain, the doctor has ruled it out. "Given her age and physical condition, I don’t advise it,” he explains. “The only solution we can provide is good medicine."
The only solution we can provide is good medicine.
Dr. Zeidat has found that Zahiya has responded very well to Celecoxib in particular. "I hand-pick her medication, as drugs tend to have a long-term effect on the kidneys, blood pressure and heart. We've found this particular works well. It relieves her pain and doesn't cause any stomach problems. That's why she sleeps better at night now."
The clinic strives to provide basic needs for its patients. According to the doctor, Anera provides up to 90 percent of its in-stock medication, and the positive effect is tangible. "Anera's donated medications really improve the clinic's productivity and efficiency, and you can clearly see the effect. Without these donations, our patients would suffer."
Medicines that are free of charge are a blessing for local villagers, who live in poverty and struggle with unemployment. For older patients like Zahiya, who have no reliable source of income, free medications for their chronic diseases are a precious gift.
"When our shelves are fully stocked with vital medicines, it helps us provide quality health care to our patients. It also allows us to focus on other important matters, like promoting health awareness and health education, and to reach out to patients in more remote areas who don't have access to medical care at all."
Donated Medicines Bring Soundness of Body and Mind
Today Dr. Zeidat is delighted to see Zahiya's five-year-old grandson at the clinic. The doctor learned that he spends long hours with his grandmother every day while his parents are at work.
Dr. Zeidat notes that arthritis and similar diseases can have profound psychological effects that are not to be taken lightly. As restricted movement minimizes social activity and interaction within one's community, it can negatively affect the patient on the long run. That’s why it’s nice that grandmother and grandson can spend so much quality time together.
The doctor also points out that Zahiya comes from a generation of strong and hardy farmers who hike long distances and climb mountainous areas to reach their lands and fetch water on a daily basis. "Zahiya and her late husband used to camp for weeks and even months around this season, tending to their lands and feeding their sheep and goats," he explains. "To find herself unable to perform the simplest of tasks right now is not easy to live with."
Zahiya and her late husband used to camp, tending to their lands and feeding their sheep and goats. To find herself unable to perform the simplest of tasks right now is not easy to live with.
However, Zahiya tries her best to keep active. She heads a women’s society in her village, which meets each week. "We enjoy each other's company. We chat and catch up. Back in the day, women used to gather round and make wool tapestries and all sorts of embroidery. I'm happy we can still have a similar gathering where the women of the community can bond together."
Although she wishes she could relive the time when she and her late husband were young and healthy, working hand-in-hand on the land, she feels blessed for the medical care and support she has received thanks to the donated medicine from Direct Relief, delivered by Anera.