This is the fundraising campaign of a good friend of mine, Sharyn Lock, who I worked with in Gaza in 2008/9 [her blog from Gaza].
A bit of background: Sharyn was on the first Free Gaza boat to Gaza in August 2008, and was a core component of organizing the boats, five trips of which (six boats) successfully arrived at Gaza’s port (I was on the third). Along with others in Gaza at the time, we did farmer and fisher accompaniment, trying to be in solidarity with these vulnerable sectors who are bullied (read: killed, maimed, abducted) on a daily basis by the world’s most immoral army, and to document these crimes. Similarly, during the 2008/9 Gaza massacre, we accompanied medics in their ambulances, documenting the worst of the war crimes. Sharyn was in the Quds hospital when it was bombed repeatedly [see her blog entry on that], including with white phosphorous. And was among the first rescuers to reach the Samouni district in al-Zeitoun, where horrific crimes and massacres were committed against the extended family.
But beyond some of those key moments, Sharyn interacted with Palestinians in Gaza respectfully, whole-heartedly, with dedication and professionalism, and continued her activism after leaving Gaza.
Since then, she’s thrown herself into studying and practising to become a mid-wife, which she just has.
Please look at and consider supporting and sharing her fundraising appeal, to get back to Gaza. From Sharyn’s appeal:
I am aiming to raise £3000 after site fees. Rounding up, £5=$9, £10=$17, £20 =$34, £50=$84, £100=$167. I will be blogging here, so you can go click “follow” to be all ready if you like 🙂
Please send me back to Gaza
In 2009 I first arrived to Gaza with the Free Gaza boats, the first to break the sea blockade in over 40 years. With other volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement (founded by Palestinians and Israelis together), over 8 months, I accompanied farmers and fishermen under fire and then ambulances during the Cast Lead attacks. During this time I kept a blog which was published as “Gaza: Beneath the Bombs” (Pluto Press, 2010). I’m now a midwife, and I aim to go to back Gaza in December 14/January 15 (depending on Rafah border access) for approx 6 weeks.
This trip is focusing on birth in Gaza…
As a new midwife, I am learning that midwifery-led normal birth is the way forward for positive outcomes for women and babies. Gaza folks are learning this too, but there is a shortage of midwives, and an awareness that they are often cut off not only from midwifery resources we take for granted, but from sharing skills and knowledge freely with their colleagues in the outside world, due to the siege.
This visit, I want to learn what I can about birth in Gaza now, with the short-term plan of article writing and maybe skill sharing antenatal education workshops for women and active birth workshops for midwives, if my colleagues there think this is useful. At this early stage of my career however, meeting midwives with years of experience under very difficult circumstances, make no mistake about who is mostly going to be learning from who!
My long-term aim is to be part of supporting Gaza’s midwifery-led birth movement over future years and within my professional community, and this trip I want to ask the people I meet to tell me how I can best begin to do that.
The initial stages of Gaza’s midwifery-led birth movement appear to be NGO-led, but how are Gaza women and midwives themselves taking the lead to create the birth support they want? In the UK, this is challenging enough for us, but how can birth and women’s choices be protected and promoted not only under siege but even under fire, when, as I write, 10,000 of Gaza’s 46,000 pregnant women are displaced and many of Gaza’s hospitals have recently been bombed? I hope also to register with the Palestinian Nursing and Midwifery Association so I can assist with midwifery care.
…but it has two other aims also
I want also to reconnect with friends who have come through the 2014 attacks, particularly “rescuers” (firefighters, medics, etc), aiming to expand their connections with their colleagues outside via Defend the Rescuers facebook and website as they go about their very difficult and dangerous work.
And as previously, to be present both as an international witness and friend in a community allowed access to very few of these, during what may be a precarious period, and to document what I learn via blogging and writing. In ISM tradition, I have always found it positive to work in a team (even just of 2) as it assists with decision-making, freedom of movement, and sense of safety, so I’m hoping my partner can join me as photographer.
Getting ready to go
Currently I am making contact with organisations inside and outside Palestine and Israel that will be able to advise and assist me with my plans. The registering body for midwives there have replied: “It is true that we are in disaster and need help from all people, but we don’t like to put your life in danger, but if you insist please [come].” So, if you are able to donate to the trip, that would be amazing; if you can’t, I’d be grateful if you can share this page with someone who maybe can, particularly healthcare professionals. If we don’t use all we raise, we will donate to local Gaza residents or health organisations who have lost their homes or centres, share with other unfunded volunteers, and/or use to follow up this project long-term. Please contact me with any queries or suggestions or advice.
If you’d like to read more about Palestine birth, here are some links…