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.
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.
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
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
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.”