Hala Rashaydeh with her husband Eyad and baby Qutaiba, in Holy Family Hospital, Bethlehem. Right: Baby clothes are part of the UMCOR layette kits for new mothers.
by David Tereshchuk*
January 28, 2013—As the world looks on at a troubled Middle East, there is agonizingly little change for the vulnerable Palestinian communities.
UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, recently sent vital supplies to Palestinian families who’ve been doubly displaced from refugee camps in Syria by that country’s civil war. Already made homeless and living for decades far from their native land, they suddenly have had to flee further into neighboring Lebanon.
Even as the region’s turmoil increases the already huge number of Palestinians in dire need, UMCOR is working with American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) to provide for the poorest communities in the West Bank, the territory with the largest population of Palestinians.
To help alleviate suffering, UMCOR sent from its Sager Brown relief-supplies base in Louisiana a 40-foot container of nearly 25,000 health kits, along with birthing kits and layette kits.
There are few elements of such outside help than can make as much immediate difference to families’ lives that the simple gift of a layette kit.
What could be more heartening, for instance, than Hala Rashaydeh’s face lighting up in joy, as she received a baby-boy layette kit after giving birth to a son in Holy Family Hospital? Twenty-three-year-old Hala had spent a grueling 15 hours in labor, before finally giving birth to the baby she named Qutaiba, Arabic for “impatient.”
About the kit, she said: “We don’t usually receive such nice and important donations in our village. They’re rare, and it feels good to get one.”
The new mother is from the Bedouin community of Al-Rashaydeh not far from Bethlehem. She is a university graduate with a degree in social studies education, and dreams of becoming a full-time teacher in Al-Rashaydeh, where there are only two schools.
Hala is unemployed and her husband is still finishing his college studies in the Arabic language. “My husband takes any work opportunity he finds, but it’s usually not enough. We are always in debt,” explained Hala.
She and her husband could buy little ahead of their child’s birth. “We only bought him a few things, with a very small budget, so this kit came at a very opportune time. I thank ANERA and UMCOR from the bottom of my heart, and hope they will keep on donating to impoverished families.”
Another new mother, Ala’ Al-Jabari, gave birth to a son in her Hebron hospital’s maternity ward—and was promptly given both a layette kit and a health kit. The layette kits include diapers, onesies, wash cloths, sleeper gowns, a sweater or jacket, and receiving blankets. The health kit includes face and hand towels, comb, nail file, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, and nail bandages.
“The clothes in the layette kit are wonderful and the colors are beautiful. They’re so cute,” said 28-year- old Ala’. “The service at the hospital has been excellent. The nurses are friendly and are always around to help and follow up on me and my baby. And now my baby has been given this special gift.”
You can help UMCOR ship relief supplies to communities in need by giving to Contain Your Joy, UMCOR Advance #982730.
David Tereshchuk is a journalist and media analyst and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.