The Clinic

"Each person has a story and I want to hear each one. I want to understand where they find their strength."

Clinic is busy. We’re seeing about 80% more patients than we had planned as we wait for the Minister of Health to give us permission to open the second clinic in the southern part of Gaza. We are sending at least six cars to pick up patients around Gaza. The men sit in one waiting area, the woman and children in another. The patients wait to be called for their appointment and then wait again until all of the other people in the car are done so they can head home. A trip to the clinic can be a four hour ordeal for the patients from Rafah (a city in southern Gaza).

The staff are working hard. Giving each patient the attention they need and quickly turning over their room for the next patient. We have staff from the new clinic working alongside the experienced clinic staff to ensure consistent care when the new clinic opens. It’s crowded, busy, loud, and hot, yet everyone smiles.

In the waiting areas, most people are smiling and talking to others also waiting for their turn. It seems it’s become a family… coming to the clinic two and three times a week can do that I guess. Each person has a story and I want to hear each one. I want to understand where they find their strength.

One young man caught my attention with his mischievous smile. He was injured while flying a kite which got caught in a power line. The active line was damaged in the war and in an attempt to loosen his kite with a piece of metal, he was electrocuted. He has burns down his arm and on his chest and he also lost multiple toes. While he was recovering from that accident, he was hit with some shrapnel which caused additional damage to his chest. He’s a frequent flier in the clinic, coming in three times a week to have his dressings changed and he is healing.

Another man was hurt almost a year ago when he opened a package he bought at the market. Apparently it was a bomb and the explosion resulted in him losing both hands (to the mid forearm) and damaged his upper thighs. The physiotherapist has been making prosthetics with various attachments such as a spoon and toothbrush so he can do some of the activities of daily living. As he watched the physiotherapist work, he looked very happy.

As I pass through the waiting area multiple times a day I receive smiles in return for mine and a wave from those I have had the opportunity to talk with.  MSF is truly helping the people. I feel good and I find myself smiling.