In the March 2017 edition of ONE, Hazem Balousha reports on a clinic operated by the Near East Council of Churches (N.E.C.C.) in Gaza. Here, he offers some additional impressions.
As a journalist, you become familiar with many things as you work in the field and you meet and listen to people.
I worked as a journalist for more than 17 years, mainly in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. I met thousands of people, I heard various stories, and I read millions of words from papers, books, and online.
Yet I was surprised when I visited the N.E.C.C. clinic of Shajaiya, east of Gaza strip — first, from the services they provide, and then from the stories of people who are going there to receive the health care.
I thought Gazans are less interested of having big families. But when it came to Shajaiya, it was a different. Most of women that I met and interviewed there want to have big families, with at least six children, despite the poverty and limited income. I was curious about why a young couple with limited means would want to have a big family.
I asked one of the pregnant woman — expecting her 10th baby — if, looking back on her life, she would do things differently now. She said, “No,” and added, “We like kids and big families.”
She told me that she advised her two married daughters not to have too many children — just five or six. One of her daughters got married almost four years ago and she is expecting her third baby. I am still surprised, as both daughters live in poverty.
I was worried when I read the recent U.N. report that Gaza Strip population will exceed three million within 14 years. This small place that is facing a critical shortage of basic needs will have that number of people sharing the services and infrastructure.
But none of that seems to concern these young, growing families — which is another surprise I found in Gaza. Despite the difficulties they face, they somehow have faith in the future. As I noted in my story, one of the mothers told me:
“Of course we cannot predict the future. The economic situation is difficult, but we should build a family and live in peace, and God will definitely provide us with livelihood and enable us to get food and drink.”
Read more about the clinic Where Hope is Kindled in the March 2017 edition of ONE.
And to get an intimate glimpse of the clinic, check out the video below.