Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Solidarity and Resistance to Total Destruction: Update on MECA's Emergency Shipment for Gaza

by Sharon Wallace

I feel like I have been here for weeks, not just four days. I've never been involved directly in acquiring material aid. It is a frustrating, tiring, and, at times, maddening process. But after four days of Cairo traffic, long office visits, and too many phone calls we have been quite successful. We have acquired an ambulance that is equipped as a mobile intensive care unit. Speed in medical response saves lives. This is the ambulance that was requested. Gaza has lost many of its ambulances due to break downs and also due to Israeli targeting of ambulances.

Wheelchairs are also needed and we obtained 45 of them. Our contacts in Gaza have asked us to send powdered milk, water (6L bottles), small blankets, and baby cereals. By tomorrow evening we will have all of this lined up and by Thursday we plan to be back at the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Cairo.

The Arab Doctors Union is helping us transport the aid and drive the ambulance. The coordination of solidarity is amazing. Everyone seems either to be involved directly or want to assist in some way. We visit the warehouses to purchase goods and they donate additional amounts (for example: 5 extra wheelchairs, extra milk, etc.).

In between tasks, Dr. Mona, Barbara, and I swap stories and experiences over the years in Palestine, Iraq, Central America and other areas one or the other has been involved in. As we talk, Dr. Mona's phone rings, another call from the depths of horror in Gaza. "They are bombing again--from the air, from the sea"; "I've lost my neighbor, my cousin, my child" The stories stop time and hurt the heart. One man called and told us about his neighbor, a 70 year-old man. He is terrified. He was sitting on his step, awaiting another night of missiles. Then he suddenly jumps up and tells his friend, "I must leave, excuse me, I may die tonight so I have to go and make love to my wife." And off he went.

Sharon Wallace is a member of Louisville Committee for Peace in the Middle East and a long-time supporter of the Middle East Children's Alliance. She is in Egypt with MECA staff Barbara Lubin and Dr. Mona El-Farra procuring items for an emergency shipment to Gaza.

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