Arriving at the Gaza clinic, it was already quite busy with many volunteers wandering around, interacting with the children and the parents who had brought their infants for an echocardiogram. It felt like the volunteers who were already there had a good grasp of the situation and were keeping the children entertained. This enabled us to connect with the coordinator of the Seeds of Hope program, which had brought 5 volunteers.
Next, we introduced ourselves to some of the families. Firstly, we met Mohamed who was a very sociable and playful child, that enjoyed bouncing a ball before making many new friends with the other children. We then met Talah, a quiet and soft spoken girl that was extremely shy in front of the camera.
As we continued talking to the families within the ward, we also met Salah, a content baby that sat happily and enjoyed our company, laughing occasionally at Jesse playing with him. We lastly met Yousef who was extremely shy and spared a small smile for the camera, however seemed quite fatigued the entire day.
All the children were safe to go home after their day in the hospital. Please continue to keep the families of Gaza in your prayers for healing and peace!
Yesterday, I got to be a part of Yasmin’s Cardiac MRI at Sheba Hospital. She has been a patient of ours for heart surgery and pacemaker placement at Wolfson hospital. But this time, as she came as part of the Gaza Clinic, she would go on with us from there over to the other hospital for her magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) appointment. A 15-year-old, she was accompanied by her mom and stayed close to her. She didn’t want close pictures either, although she allowed them on previous visits. So we began our journey through the day.
At Sheba, they allowed us through security, and we pulled up to the children’s congenital cardiac center to start checking in with the receptionist. She didn’t have anything for Yasmin though so she just asked us to go to the MRI department. We went up the elevator and over the fun, powered, walk-ways to the other building, and started checking in after finding the right MRI desk. She was in the system for an appointment at 12. A little later, we were still talking with the clerk about assurance of payment though we checked that her name was on their list. With lots of help and phone calls in addition to the papers we came with, it all got sorted out and we joined the groups of people waiting for admission.
From the medical questionnaire we filled out, they were wide-eyed when they heard that Yasmin had a pacemaker. I wondered if this would delay her MRI. That, the length of the wait list, or something else, did cause us to wait into the evening before her name was called. During the time we got to know each other a little better. A little, because my Arabic isn’t much yet. The test took some time as well and I was honored when Yasmin’s mother handed me her phone and left her purse for me to take care of when they asked her to enter and help, leaving behind any metal objects.
After they came out we went back to the secretary to finish things up. We did our best to hurry because it was already near the cut-off time to be back and cross the border into Gaza before it would close. We had just about the needed time to return as we went out the door. Then we heard that we would also need to stop at Wolfson Hospital to pick-up some items that another family would need going into Gaza. How would we manage it all especially during rush-hour? Before, officials at the Gaza border have helped us bring through special cases at off times. With that relationship and some prayer, we began our journey south. To make a long story short, God did help us through the evening, getting everyone everything they needed and to everywhere they needed to go. Yasmin’s doctors will consider the results of her MRI early next week.
May Messiah’s Name be lifted high as we get to show His love to our neighbors!
We had sad news during our meeting today. Baby Abdalla died this morning. He fought very hard for his life, and the staff at Wolfson did an amazing job caring for Abdalla during his five weeks in Tel Aviv. There are situations that God is simply calling His children home. We now turn our prayers to ones of comfort; we beseech God to keep Abdalla’s family in His hands. I had an opportunity to briefly talk with Abdalla’s grandfather today, and he is coping very well. While it was hard last week for him to hear the news there was little hope for Abdalla, it gave him a time to process and grieve. Abdalla’s grandfather had the chance to say goodbye to his beautiful grandson. Please join us in praying for Abdalla’s family.
After baby Habiba was transferred to the children's ward last week, she was ready to be discharged home.
However, we needed to obtain a medication for her that ended up taking some time and effort. It was frustrating in the moment to not be able to immediately get this medication so Habiba could go home. Thank the Lord He knows best. The delay allowed the hospital staff to notice Habiba needed an extra day of monitoring. She then had additional complications sending her back into the ICU. God is so faithful in His perfect timing! We are also thankful Habiba is once again recovered and back in the children's ward!
Aline is recovering well and is also in the children's ward.
Her grandmother is in good spirits and greeted us warmly when we arrived to the hospital this morning.
We are praying for both of these babies to soon be discharged and praise God for their health!
Abdalla continues to struggle for his life. While he remains off the ECMO-machine, the doctors are not giving a good prognosis report. Please pray with us for Abdalla. It seems it will only be by God's special touch this beautiful baby boy will be healed. We are also praying for Abdalla's grandfather. He has now been at Wolfson for 36 days and has given up hope for Abdalla's life. With so many ups and downs with Abdalla's condition and the latest news of a grim prognosis, his grandfather has prepared himself to return home without Abdalla.
While there were good and bad reports mixed today, we were blessed by a small party with many of the parents. Our Save A Child's Heart coworker, Fatima, brought tea and cookies to share with the Gaza, West Bank, and Kurdish parents/guardians.
It was a wonderful time together and we all enjoyed each other's company!
The rainy season is showing its force and we get to go out and see the countryside get its soaking. We were hoping to be a part of six children coming out of Gaza today. After waiting a while, only two families came. So one of our vans escorted them to the hospital, while the other van stayed to wait for a young girl named Limas, who would need an oxygen tank for breathing.
Today Yousef, Jesse, and I took off for Gaza with two vans. No fewer than nine families from Gaza and one from the West Bank would be traveling with us. But we were facing some problems: our companion Abu Malek, who usually brings several families from Gaza in his taxis couldn’t come today. We decided to bring the smallest babies in a first shift to Wolfson Hospital. Sadly, this meant some families had to wait at the Erez border crossing for Jesse to return and come on the second ride to Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, Yousef and I showed the families the way to the echo department. We were happy to meet some old friends, like Saleh, who was again accompanied by his grandpa. And, wow has he grown in these few weeks!
Shath, a 6 month-old boy was accepted for admission. He underwent a catheterization and will receive further treatment this week.
Jesse and I took some time to play with the kids, take pictures and help their parents find their way in the hospital. At the end of the day, we gathered in the hallway to take this "family picture" before we all went back in the vans and left for Gaza.
Oh, did I mention we had the Queen of Sheba with us today? It was an honor to hand her over to her mother again.
Saleh’s grandpa hugged and kissed (like Arab men do) and with a big “Thank you, all” he left. Another Gaza day came to an end. Thank you, Lord, for bringing all these precious kids.
Three of our families were admitted to the hospital, including one young boy, Mahmud, whom I loved transporting because he likes to dance in the van to Arab music! He would wave his hands around in the air and get into the beat. Today, Wednesday, we transported him back to the border because his catheterization that he was going to undergo today was cancelled. So we enjoyed the time anyway and got moving a bit even in the van with our seat belts on. Our windows of time with these families are so precious. It’s a special opportunity to make a difference by showing love and lifting up the Name of Messiah!
Today was a very special hospital visit for Brenda and me. Over the course of the past couple of weeks I had seen several very sick babies from Gaza coming to Wolfson hospital for life-saving treatment. They and their guardians, usually one grandparent, had become familiar faces during my time spent there. The grandparents would share with us their joy about successful surgeries and their fear and anxiety about setbacks in the recovery of their grandchildren. During our mealtimes at Shevet we would often share about the progress of each of these children. Several of them had severe complications after their open heart surgeries, and we prayed a lot for them and for the dedicated medical staff which cares ceaselessly for these precious children.
Tiny baby Abdalla had come to Wolfson hospital several weeks ago via ambulance as an absolutely emergency. His aorta was very narrow and the doctors did not expect him to live much longer. However, he survived the emergency surgery, but afterwards experienced many complications. After an catheterization of his heart last week Wednesday, his heart failed and Abdalla had to be resuscitated and was put on the extra-corporal heart-lung machine. I did not really know what to expect when I came to the hospital today, but as Brenda and I made our way to the pedeatric department, we were met by a crowd of people, and in the midst of them we met Abdalla's joyful grandfather. He told us that Abdalla did not need the support of the ECMO-machine anymore and that his heart was working well. What a huge answer to prayer! He also told us that Abdalla might be extubated in the next couple of days.
Amongst the same group of people we met the grandmother of baby Aline, who had also come as an emergency to Israel. After her open heart surgery, the surgeons had left her chest open in order to be able to quickly intervene if necessary. This lady told me happily that Aline is no longer in ICU. She was transferred to the Secondary ICU, which is a huge improvement. I went to visit them there a little bit later and the grandmother was so thankful for the help Aline had received. She experienced with her own eyes how valued the life of little Aline is by the people of Israel, and that message she will take back once Aline is well enough to return to her family in Gaza.
Baby Habiba, whom many of our team had gotten to know as the baby that always crys while in the ICU, was transferred today to the children's ward. Her grandmother also shared her joy with us. When I came to her room, she told me to come to Habiba's bedside and take some pictures. A proud grandmother with a beautiful little girl soon to return home. A moment worth the many hours and days of hard labor of love, that the medical staff is investing. I felt honored and privileged to be at the hospital today and share these precious moments with the people from Gaza.
As we returned to Jerusalem, we took Omar and his guardian to the Gaza border. Omar is a friendly young boy with a beautiful smile. He had waited patiently while Brenda and I made our rounds. On our way to the border he fell asleep. When we arrived, he quickly got up and left the van, posed for one last picture and then pushed the stroller towards the checkpoint. I hope to see him again during one of his follow-up visits. A bright young boy - the future of Gaza.
A day full of beauty. After many days of not knowing if Abdalla, Aline and Habiba would survive, it was such a privilege to seeing them doing so much better. And the joy that I saw in the eyes of their grandparents was priceless. May they continue to recover well - and may we be able to rejoice with many more families from Gaza over successful surgeries.
Another Tuesday! This means it was Gaza clinic day. Yousef and I left early to be on time at Erez border crossing. First, we picked Avnan and her mother up just around the corner from Shevet’s Jerusalem base, on HaNevi’im Street. They are from Hebron. Also Doctor Fahez from Gaza traveled with us. After a short while it became very silent in the van because everyone had fallen asleep. We arrived at Erez border crossing before ten.
After a while, the families came through the gate, we helped them into the van, and explained how to use the safety belts. Poor Yousef had to stay in Erez. The van was full! He waited for some other families and traveled with them to Wolfson later.
After the security check and the challenge to find a place to park the van, I found the families in the waiting room at the Echo department.
Mohammed stayed all the time with his dad, but was very interested in my phone. He kept speaking Arabic to me and I replied in Dutch. It didn’t seem to bother him. Avnan enjoyed looking at a photo book and played with the other children that arrived.
Little Karam was very comfortable on his mothers’ lap. He didn't give me any smiles though.
After his echo, we showed Mohammed and his dad the way to the children’s ward. Mohammed will be staying there during his treatment.
This Tuesday we travelled to Wolfson for the Gaza clinic. The original plan was to pick the families up at the Erez border, but as there were too many people (what a blessing!!) they came by taxi to Tel Aviv.
They arrived with a lot of luggage. Would they come and stay? We didn’t know, but assumed we would bring some of them back to Gaza the same evening. Well, as always: wait and see.
There were three families, but I only met two precious new children. First there was Habiba, a little baby girl. She was on her grandma’s lap all the time. Her grandma proudly agreed when I asked if I could take a picture of her granddaughter.
Then there was Jahid. He was very shy and stood very, very straight as I took his picture. He looked very bold with a nice scratch on his face from playing outside!
Meanwhile, as we were waiting and more families came in, we had a good time together. We shared my cookies and their shawarma-sandwiches, and laughed at the clinic’s clown having fun with the kids.
We helped Jahid and his mother find the children’s ward. Jahid wasn’t looking very happy at this point. We know that he’ll soon find out there are more boys of his age in the ward, and we hope and pray he will be feeling ok soon. Thank you Lord for the opportunity for Jahid.
Later, when I walked back to the echo department I found out all the families would stay at Wolfson. We’ll have a group of new friends in a few days!
When I heared that I was going to do the Gaza Clinic yesterday, I was really excited. It was probably my last day at the hospital since I am leaving soon.
When we arrived at the Erez border, there was this nine-year-old girl already waiting for us. She came with her grandmother, and I seated her in the van. There I tried to make friends with her and to figure out her name. But she didn’t want to communicate with me then. Meanwhile, Yousif came with a little boy and his grandmother, and we left the border towards Wolfson. At the hospital, the little girl came to me, leaned on my shoulder, and told me her name: Samah. It is the Arabic word for "forgiven." What a meaningful name! I really hope that she can figure out one day that the Messiah came to forgive us. That’s what we celebrate in a few days at Christmas. Unfortunately, I don't speak Arabic, so I couldn't share with her. But we had a lot of fun without language.
And this initially shy girl even got a little bit sassy, and we got to be friends. She was there for a first checkup, and the doctor told us that she is okay right now and should come back in six months for another checkup.
The baby boy we brought from the border as well should have a catheterization tomorrow. So he stayed in the hospital.
On our way back, I received three beautiful gifts. The first and main one was another little baby boy. It was Saleh. That is the emergency baby that I brought, along with Suhail, almost three weeks ago from the border to the hospital. At that time, he needed constant oxygen, and now, not even three weeks later, he went home as a healthy baby.
What an amazing miracle! Thank God for that! For me was it so special because it is so incredible to see a child from the beginning to the end of their treatment even though I am only a short-term volunteer.
Also, on the way back from the hospital, we had a beautiful sunset, and I praise God for his amazing creation. Furthermore, were we able to take a doctor from Wolfson with us to Jerusalem. He told us how he grew up in Gaza and told us what life looks like there. So it was altogether a really successful day: we had fun, saw Gods creation, helped people, and studied a little bit of history and other cultures. Thank God for giving us this day.