Gaza Hospital's residents
concern for the residents
Gaza Hospital, opposite the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila, is home to Palestinians and other nationalities in Beirut. When we called our friend Sania for an update on Najdeh Association, the Palestinian NGO she works for, we were moved by her quiet concern for those living in the hospital.
exterior of Gaza Hospital photo: Sania Khalil
a hospital with a story
No longer a functioning hospital, it’s a building with a story. Built in the 1970s, it was a celebrated hospital. During the Israeli invasion in 1982, doctors continued to operate underground. Dr Ang Swee Chai, the orthopaedic surgeon who is one of the founders of Medical Aid for Palestinians, was one of a few volunteers who came to work in the hospital. She recalls working conditions under the Israeli bombardment in Marco Pasquini‘s 2009 film, Gaza Hospital.
Dr Ang Swee Chai photographed on the balcony of the Gaza Hospital in 1982
Reproduced by kind permission of Dr Swee
basic living conditions
Since the state doesn’t allow Palestinians to build their own homes, with no where to go many moved in to the hospital. The acclaimed Palestinian Lebanese artist Abdul Rahman Katanani, whose work using corrugated iron draws directly on his experience of living in the camp, was born there in 1983.
Conditions are basic, makeshift kitchens and bathrooms are squeezed into rooms where 5 or 6 family members live. Many live underground with no light. And they pay rent. This could be anything up to $75 (£60) a month, in Lebanon’s now dollarised economy.
photo: Sania Khalil
Najdeh Association, created in 1978 to look after Palestinian women and children, provide support and education in challenging circumstances. Making sure women are aware of their rights, particularly in relation to domestic abuse, is a key part of their work.
The Palestinians who live in Gaza Hospital are without papers, so can’t work. Earning a sparse income by preparing vegetables to sell on will not provide enough to cover medical bills.
As descendants of those forced from their land in Palestine in 1948, the current destruction of Gaza and the ongoing attacks in the West Bank adds another layer of trauma to their lives.
women attending a workshop on domestic abuse in the basement of Gaza Hospital
photo: Sania Khalil
For the residents of Gaza Hospital, the trauma is compounded by Lebanon’s economic crisis. As today’s charitable donations are directed towards supporting Palestine, Najdeh are noticing a shortfall in funding. Having previously been able to meet medical costs with UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Work Agency), now they are unable to.
We were able to make a donation of £2,250, the result of donating 50% of our December sales. Najdeh Association were able to help 86 families who couldn’t afford necessary medical costs. For anyone who would still like to make a donation, please email email@example.com