You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind [and]... You shall love your neighbour as yourself. - Matthew 22.37-39
|Mother and child. © Julianne Stewart/ABM, 2017.|
This year we aim to continue to support the Diocese of Jerusalem to address the early nutrition needs of underweight children and babies in Gaza, through the work of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital.
For many years now, the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza has, in addition to its regular work as a hospital, been working with local community groups to identify, test and treat children under the age of three who have failed to thrive due to malnutrition and other, mostly congenital, reasons.
A Nutritionist who works at the hospital, Dr Suad Obaid, told ABM, as she pointed to a tiny baby wearing a red outfit, who seemed intent on defying the odds stacked against him:
“This eight- month old baby is severely underweight. His name is Majed. He still prefers breastfeeding, but I’m encouraging his mother to mix breast milk with the nutritional supplements I’m giving her. There is a milk formula for underweight infants, but at USD10 a week per child, it is too costly for us to provide. The mother has three older children and is pregnant with her fifth. The father is out of work. Majed had a premature birth, and his mother’s milk is also nutrient-deficient.
“The key success factors for this program are the mother’s cooperation and the family’s means to buy nutritious food. It can be a real challenge for many families to buy food that is low in price and also nutritious. Many families receive relief food from UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) and this relief food is high in calories, but low in nutrition. It was intended for emergency relief, but these people have been refugees now since 1948. Because of this, we encourage breastfeeding until the child is two, but encourage the mothers to add solid food after 6 months of age.
"Through this program, about 80% of the children improve, but overcoming stunting takes longer. Additionally, because of the high cost of transportation to the hospital, which many families cannot afford, we are only able to target those families who live nearest to the hospital. Another challenge is that women here like to have large families – it is a security for them.”
Little Majed will visit the hospital regularly with his mother to have his progress checked by a paediatrician, and by Dr Obaid. Hopefully little Majed will be one of the 80% of children who improve through the work of the program.
Assisting the Al Ahli Hospital at community level is a strong network of community-based groups within the Gaza Strip who connect families to the hospital for assessment and possible treatment. The groups typically consist of a handful of paid staff, assisted by numerous volunteers. One such group is the Zakher Association. The head, Enam Em Samer, tells ABM: “I’m proud of my organisation and our relationship with the Ahli since 2003. And I’m proud of all the work we do with them, such as the Child Nutrition Program, and health campaigns for women.”
Your donation will help babies and children like Majed
to have a chance of a healthy childhood.
It costs $175 for one child to participate in the three month nutritional supplement intervention program, including initial screening, regular hospital visits and checks and the supplements themselves.
PS001LH needs $27,000 in 2019 (tax-deductible)
Alternatively, for donations by cheque/money order (made out to the Anglican Board of Mission - Australia), telephone or email, view contact details here. Please don’t forget to include the project name and/or code with your payment details.
Gifts to ABM will be applied to the support of project(s) selected. In the unlikely event of the project being oversubscribed or not proceeding to completion, donations will be applied to a similar project to the one(s) selected.
August 2019 - Here is an update on the work ABM has been supporting at the Al Ahli Hospital, both through this project and our emergency response. Read more
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