Anglican hospital in Gaza helping to empower mothers as their young children make vital health gains
Justice & Advocacy
“Anglicans in Development (AID), part of the Anglican Board of Mission, has worked closely with the Ahli Arab Hospital for many years, chiefly in supporting its outreach to improve the health and future of underweight babies in Gaza. More recently, AID has begun supporting a new initiative that combines child nutrition services with educating mothers about nutrition,” says Dr Julianne Stewart
Shorouq is a young mother living with her husband.
“My husband is unemployed, and we are living in deplorable conditions. We are unable to meet our fundamental demands. We are completely reliant on [United Nations] food assistance, which is insufficient because we also require medicine and cash to purchase other necessities, ”Shorouq shared.
“I heard about the free nutrition program that Ahli Arab Hospital implemented…The Ahli was a compassionate and delightful place for us as they cared for my daughter and provided us with the necessary medications, vitamins, and biscuits that supported her quick recovery.”
As well as being good news for little Hala, the Ahli’s program was also good news for Shorouq on a more personal level because she received health and nutrition training in her home and community from women community trainers (mobilisers) who have been especially trained by the Ahli.
The Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza is one of 30 outreach institutions run by the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem over the five territories or countries that comprise the Diocese.
Anglicans in Development (AID), part of the Anglican Board of Mission, has worked closely with the Ahli Arab Hospital for many years, chiefly in supporting its outreach to improve the health and future of underweight babies in Gaza.
More recently, AID has begun supporting a new initiative that combines child nutrition services with educating mothers about nutrition and a host of other vitally important health-related matters.
Working through women community leaders nominated by local organisations in two of the most marginalised Gazan communities, the Ahli trains 10 women in such topics as communication skills, self-esteem and confidence building, public health, child health, hygiene education, nutrition, gender-based violence and women’s rights and community emergency management.
Households in the areas reached by the program are experiencing deteriorating economic and social situations, putting them under extreme stress. One of the in-home trainers is Iman.
“The home visits and individual awareness sessions provide indirect psychosocial support for the vulnerable women who are suffering from a lack of basic needs at all levels,” Iman said.
Iman and nine other women engage with 150 more women, including Shorouq, to pass on what they have learned in what is called the “women-to-women approach”.
One hundred of these women also have children in the hospital’s nutrition program.
Many of the sessions take place in the women’s homes.
Results from the first year of this program show that the women increased their knowledge by almost 100 per cent. At the same time, about 96 to 97 per cent of the children in the program have made good weight gains.
Director General of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, Suhaila Tarazi, said that empowered and aware mothers are much more likely to help their children retain weight gained in the project, or to have fewer underweight children than mothers who have not been trained. The women are also empowered to be agents of change in their own neighbourhoods and communities.
“My awareness of my rights and responsibilities was raised; I am capable of solving my problems alone now. I have good communication channels and dialogue with my husband,” Shorouq said.
“Many thanks to the Ahli Hospital and to AID, and to all the people who care for vulnerable groups and provide assistance to the needy.”
If you’d like to find out more about the Anglican Board of Mission AID’s Lent and Good Friday Appeal, please join us for the appeal launch via Zoom on Thursday 23 February 2023 at 3pm AEDT. The launch will be hosted by The Right Rev’d Brad Billings, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne, and we will hear from The Most Rev’d Hosam Naoum, Archbishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem; Mrs Suhaila Tarazi, Director General of the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza; and, Mrs Sawsan Aranki-Batato, who is the Programs Development Officer of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East.
To join the launch go online or phone 1300 302 663. Donations to the appeal can be made via the Anglican Board of Mission website. We look forward to seeing you online as we discover what God is doing in our world and how we can join in.Jump to next article