I don’t know about you but every time I turn on the news or glance at the headlines, I am grieved by the difficult and tragic situations people around the world face. It’s so easy to get caught up in our local battles over the Affordable Care Act and the shutdown of our government easily losing sight of the reality that, as Americans, we have access to some of the best health care available in the world. Medical insurance is unheard of for the vast majority of the world’s population. While it is, indeed, crucial to care for our local neighbors, we live in a global village and ought to at least know about the conditions of our international brothers and sisters. In reading over the resolutions from the 77th General Convention, I learned about a ministry of which I was completely unaware: the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. This hospital was established in 1882 by the Church of Mission Society of England. In 1982, Al Ahli Hospital became a service ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and continues to provide health care to the people of the Gaza Strip.
Mission: The Ahli Arab mission is to glorify God and bear witness to His love as manifested in the life of Jesus Christ. Ahli Arab Hospital is doing this through the provision of high quality patient centered health care services, and maintains the financial viability of its operation. The hospital offers to serve all who seek treatment without prejudice to any religious or ethnic community and irrespective of social class, gender and political affiliation. These services are delivered in a spirit of love and service
Ahli Arab Hospital recognizes the value of its staff and volunteers and promotes equal and compassionate treatment with dignity and respect to all.
Vision : To continue providing the finest medical care possible under the most adverse circumstances to the marginalized and vulnerable poor people whose livelihood are threatened by the effect of human-made disaster, with special attention to the refugee and the poorest of the poor. The hospital is committed to building people’s capacity and competence alongside the development and maintenance of an adequate standard of diagnostic and clinical services.
More recently the hospital has suffered from funding cuts by supporters. Though they have 80 beds, they are only able to use 50 at any time due to lack of financial resources. Despite their struggles, the staff continues to provide a wide variety of medical services:
· Internal Medicine
· Emergency and ambulance services.
· Ear, nose and throat.
· Gynecology obstetrics.
· Out patient clinics (for most specialties)
· Free medical missions to the poor twice weekly.
· Specialized free clinics for chronic ill elderly women.
· Free care for burn injuries and underweight or malnourished children.
· Psychosocial support for communities and individuals.
· Capacity building for Ahli as well as other health providers staff members.
· Training programs for graduate and undergraduate youth.
· Food and commodities to the poor
Statistics monthly: 3500 outpatient visits, 400 inpatients, surgeries 300, lab 2800 tests: radiology examinations: 608
Resolution B017 – Support for Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention call upon the Bishops and Dioceses of the Episcopal Church to join in fundraising efforts to help meet the shortfall created by the reduction in funding, and to advocate through The Episcopal Church for restoration of humanitarian fiscal aid to Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza from the global community.
While this resolution doesn’t call for any particular action by local congregations, there is still much we can do. We can become informed about the work of this fine hospital through many websites:
We might sponsor fund-raising efforts within our own congregations: Learn about the hospital, present a brief “minute for mission” on a Sunday morning, and let the “open plate” collection go to their support. The possibilities are endless! Let me know what you and your congregation do and I’ll share your stories with the Household!
And we can pray:
O God of wholeness and healing, we lift up the staff and patients of the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. Strengthen and guide the Management and all the staff as they treat the poor and injured. Bless the patients who receive care with your healing touch. Give us a renewed awareness of the blessing of health and grant us the courage to support the caregivers in their work. All this we ask, in the Name of your Son, our Lord Jesus. Amen.
As we count our rich blessings, let us look for ways we can bless others in our global village.
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council