Asmah’s story is typical of the children served by AVH. Asmah was just six years old when she made her first journey from a refugee camp in Gaza to Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem. When she was diagnosed with cancer at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City her family was informed that she would be referred to AVH in order to receive the life-giving care and treatment she needed since there were no comparable cancer care facilities in Gaza or the West Bank. AVH helped to secure Asmah’s medical permit so that she could travel to AVH, but the Israeli authorities denied travel permits for Asmah’s parents and refused to let them accompany their frail daughter to Jerusalem. Fortunately, Asmah’s grandparents were allowed to make the trip with her. It was their first time ever to see Jerusalem, the Haram Ash-Sharif, and the Dome of the Rock.
The course of treatment for this bold little girl was going to take a few minutes a day for six to nine weeks, so Augusta Victoria Hospital provided hotel accommodations for Asmah and her grandparents, a routine part of AVH’s psychosocial care for Gaza patients. The drive to Jerusalem, without the delays of checkpoints, is only about an hour and a half, but they could not risk going back and forth to Gaza each day for fear that one day they would not be permitted to leave Gaza and Asmah’s radiation therapy would be interrupted with potentially catastrophic consequences.
It was sad that Asmah’s parents could not be by her side in Jerusalem, but the hidden blessing was that her grandmother’s diabetes was discovered and treated at AVH and both her grandparents took part in classes at AVH that would prepare them for the new diet and life-style changes that were urgently needed for Asmah’s grandmother. Asmah is back in Gaza now. She is with her parents and family and happy to be back among her friends in school. In 2011, the LWF Jerusalem Program maintained and increased its support for Gaza cancer patients coming to Jerusalem for treatment.