The fifth medical day- Al-Media village, Ramallah district

by Michal Zak

On June 1, 2002 our delegation of three medical doctors, a nurse, a pharmacist and one ‎general staff member traveled the short road to Al-Media. This is indeed a short drive ‎less than half an hour from Neve Shalom/ Wahat al Salam, but it is so different.

I ‎wanted to write that it is in a different world but it is not. The village is small, only ‎‎1,350 people live there, far from the main road and blocked from reaching the main ‎towns. Most of the residents used to work in Israel but they have been unemployed for almost ‎two years now, and there are no sources of livelihood in the village.

The volunteers in ‎the Humanitarian Aid group recommended that we find such a village, where help is ‎desperately needed and there is no access to medical treatment. Adnan Manna, our ‎field coordinator, went to Al-Media a couple of days in advance to see the representative ‎of the village council and arrange our visit. A clinic was recently built in the village ‎by the Palestinian Authority but it is still empty, not just of medical equipment but of ‎tables and chairs.  A list of patients was made and on the day we arrived all it took ‎was an announcement on the mosque’s loud speaker and all 120 patients arrived.

The childrens’ main symptoms that we treated were infections of the ear and eye- ‎simple problems that when neglected can become very big problems. The older ‎patients suffered mostly from high blood pressure because they did not have the ‎proper medications that they need.‎

We want to tell you about two terrible, sad cases of children that we saw and that we ‎are trying to help get to a hospital. One is a girl, she is 5 years old and she was ‎burned very severely a year ago. Because she was not treated properly her situation ‎deteriorated and the burns affected her bones so that she is unable to walk.

Another girl had a broken leg which was put in a cast in an unprofessional way and ‎she must go through an operation in order to break the bone and reset it.‎

We are telling you about these children with the hope that someone can help get them ‎the proper treatment. We did not set out to give such expensive and complicated ‎medical help when we started this project but the memory of these children stays with us and we want ‎to try and help them. These too are the silent and innocent victims of this war.‎

More than ten years ago we hosted here at Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam a group of ‎children from Bosnia who came for medical treatment with their mothers. They ‎where victims of neglect as well as of direct violence of the war in Bosnia and a ‎humanitarian aid group adopted them and brought them to Israel and to Palestine for ‎treatment. We hope that these children can find such help- they live 10 minutes away ‎from some of the best hospitals in the world.‎

On Saturday, June 21 we are sending to Al-Media a truck full of used clothes, toys, and basic ‎food stuffs that we collected from our community, from the parents of our school ‎and from nearby communities. With these we also send the medicines that where ‎needed and each patient received his or her prescription. Although we prepared ‎everything, and one parent from Lod, whose children are in our school, volunteered to ‎bring his truck for the day, it was not easy to leave that Saturday morning. The ‎situation in the occupied territories was so scary, since the Israeli army had re-invaded the ‎cities, and two bombs exploded in Jerusalem - so that everyone were extra cautious. But ‎five people joined the truck and the delegation reached its destination without any ‎problem.‎

About Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam
We hear that what we are doing is important and good. We know better. We know ‎that what we are doing is very modest and natural, and the fact that people, ourselves ‎included, are so touched by our work shows how sick the whole situation is. I want to ‎share with you one side effect of our humanitarian aid project: I know that at this time ‎of war most ties and co operations between Jews and Arabs have been cut off. I think ‎that our work together for a humanitarian cause helps us stay together, as a ‎community, in these dark times. Many people in the village help to make each ‎humanitarian aid day possible. Ten people, with their children came to help sort out ‎the cloths. Parents of children from our school brought staff and offered to help in ‎many useful ways. This brings all of us closer together. Each small project involves ‎many phone calls, traveling to buy medicine, loading, unloading, folding and sorting. ‎I have not seen so much motivation to help in a project in this village for years. It ‎seems that in some aspects we have reached what Janet Helms calls the ‎Internalization/Commitment stage in our identity: “This behavior may involve ‎participation in social and political activities designed specifically to eliminate racism ‎and/or oppression regardless of the race of the perpetrators and victims. At this stage ‎people no longer need judge others by their cultural group memberships, rather they ‎are concerned with common people hood. It is a stage free of oppression and ‎victimization.” ‎