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Gaza Situation Update
Gaza Visit 22-24 May 2017

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Renewable Energy Program making change in Gaza
As Gaza’s electricity crisis perseveres, our renewable energy program is changing the lives of people. On the institutional level, it was gratifying to see that the major project to install photovoltaic solar panel systems for the operating theater, the emergency room and the outpatient clinics of the Ahli Arab Hospital is complete and operative. The hospital staff were still in disbelief about how effective, simple and reliable the system is. Doctors, nurses and radiologists expressed their relief that the daily power outages will no longer disrupt surgeries, dialysis sessions and X-Ray and mammography tests which not only saves time but lives.

On the community level, I went with Fr. Mario da Silva — the parish priest in Gaza, to visit four beneficiary families out of the fifteen families who were provided with solar energy systems to generate electricity for their homes. It was heartening to hear the personal stories of the families and their desperate need for a reliable source of electricity. The case of Boulos Sweilem was the most compelling story to me.

About 7 years ago, Boulos Sweilem suffered a stroke that left half of his body paralyzed. He has been bed-ridden since then, unable to move only with the help of his family. His family was in desperate need for a reliable and continuous source of electricity to ensure that the air mattress pump operates continuously to avoid painful bed sores. His wife who is in her early eighties and a cancer survivor said: “we do not want the solar system to put the lights on at night, nor to operate a television or a refrigerator, but to ensure that the pump keeps operating so Boulos does not suffer more than what he already does!” Other cases visited are no less dramatic! My only sorrow is that I was not able to visit more families to let them know that they are not forgotten and we will continue to do what we can to support them.

Concluding Remarks
Like all previous visits to Gaza, I came back recharged and energized simply by listening to people who live on so little and yet are so thankful to God for what they are blessed with. There is a stark contrast from other communities that we serve who have much better infrastructure and means. The resourcefulness and creativity of our people in Gaza are truly inspiring. Despite the challenging conditions of Gaza and the lack of any new vision for the future, hope is still alive. Please keep our brothers and sisters in Gaza in your thoughts and prayers.

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