Anglican Church Newcastle

Spring Celebrations: ‘Walls and gates can’t stop the Spirit!’

People from the Central Coast Deanery gathered at Holy Family Church, Wyoming.

The Ahli Arab Hospital is a haven of peace in the middle of Gaza, one of the world’s most troubled places. A Palestinian territory (41km long x 12km at its widest), with a population of 1.85 million, it has only one point of access, at its northern tip joining Israel.  The political status of Gaza affects all aspects of life because of restrictions on the movement of materials and people in and out. Electricity, medicines, food, water, fuel, and personnel are all restricted to some extent. Despite this the hospital provides some of the finest medical care available in the region.

Apart from general medicine, surgery, community services and child nutrition programs, it runs, completely free of charge, a program for the early detection of breast cancer among women above 40 years of age. It is this program which Anglican Women will help support through their ‘Thank You Boxes’ for coins over the next 12 months.

The incidence of cancer, and especially breast cancer, is much higher in Gaza than in other areas. Its diagnosis is seen as a death sentence by the wider public, and the hospital is working to overcome this perception. The hospital performs about 1,000 mammograms a year, and staff work with community groups to raise awareness about breast cancer and to teach self-examination techniques. If a lump is found, a biopsy is done. If malignant, then surgery – a complete mastectomy – follows, and if medication is available, a course of chemotherapy. Instead of despair, there is now hope.

The Ahli Arab Hospital’s mission is “to glorify God and bear witness to His love as manifested in the life of Jesus Christ. It serves all who seek treatment, without prejudice to any religious or ethnic community and irrespective of social class, gender and political affiliation.”

Nearly all the staff and patients are Muslims, though the Director, Suhaila Tarazi, is a Palestinian Christian. Recently the Archbishop of Canterbury presented Suhaila with The Langton Award for Community Service: “For outstanding service to the community in one of the poorest and most neglected corners of the world, overseeing with calm grace, the provision of vital medical services…” Despite having dual citizenship with a US passport, she chooses to remain living in Gaza to serve her fellow Palestinians, as she has for 40 years.

Anglican Overseas Aid is an overseas relief and development agency of the Anglican Church of Australia. They work with Anglican and like-minded agencies to create and strengthen partnerships in developing countries to overcome poverty, injustice and disaster.

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