Interpal’s All Women’s delegation was in the north of Lebanon yesterday, where they visited a number of health and community centres in Palestinian refugee camps. The delegation’s purpose was to bear witness to Palestinian women’s experiences and struggles as they cope with displacement. Here’s what our staff and delegates discovered.

Al Hanin Centre

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Al Hanin Centre was established eight years ago and looks after 250 patients aged
between 8 and 25 years old. Some of the children have Down’s syndrome, some of
them are dealing with paralysis. About 150 patients need diapers on a daily
basis which can be very expensive and a financial burden on families.  

All of the eight members of staff at the centre are trained to work
with disabled patients. Patients do craft-work and are taught how to be
financially independent. The staff told the delegation that they’ve noticed an increase in babies born with disabilities caused by a lack of oxygen at birth, mainly
due to medical staff not being trained properly or a lack of adequate medical
equipment. Many women told the delegation that doctors have dislocated
babies’ shoulders during birth due to their lack of training.

The delegation also learned that families can often feel ashamed if their child has a disability, with the issue still being somewhat taboo within the community. Because
of this, the centre suspects that there could be many disabled children not being taken
care of at all by local services.

Interpal sponsors 17 children in the centre, with the field office
hoping to sponsor all of them in the future.  

Women’s Community Centre

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The Women’s Community Centre, located in Nahr El Bared refugee camp,
was damaged in 2007 as a result of civil fighting in the camp. The centre has various
sections, which include computer training, cooking, hairdressing, exercise and
sewing.

Many families in the refugee camp here are still struggling financially following the
fighting that took place in 2007. That is why job creation is such an important issue in the
community. Luckily, this is exactly what the centre focuses on. Some women
manage to buy their own sewing machines and open their own businesses. Others
go on training courses to learn hairdressing and open up their own
salons. There’s also training in baking, where women learn to make traditional
Palestinians biscuits. The centre has become very well known for their food and
the delegation was informed that the women receive a large number of weekly orders.

 Al Shifa Medical Centre

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Al Shifa Medical Centre was established in 2012. Interpal funds its ophthalmology
and physiotherapy departments.

Due to widespread UNRWA cuts in
funding, the centre is beginning to struggle with its services. Certain medicines and caesarean operations
are no longer covered by funding and female patients are forced to ask friends, family
or local NGOs for money to afford healthcare.

The centre is essential to the refugee camp, with the only other one more than 6 km outside of the camp. It can be difficult to get to especially during
emergencies.  

The delegation’s next stop will be the refugee camps of Tyre, stay tuned for further updates.