Life in a War Zone: Stories of birth from Gaza

Story from ABC’s Be the Change: Save a Life

The birth of a child is a moment of excitement as well as anxiety for any mother, but in conflict-ridden Gaza, those fears are amplified by instability and devastated infrastructure. Feeza Shraim, a courageous midwife, is working to improve the odds for many of Gaza’s mothers and babies.

In the midst of the 2009 clash between Israelis and Palestinians, Kifa, an anxious mother, set off for the hospital to give birth. Having lost a baby in childbirth once before, she was worried about birth complications. But even knowing the risk of daily life in a conflict zone, she knew it might take days to reach a hospital where she could have a trained health worker on hand in case an emergency should arise.

“It was 11:30 at night. Tanks had invaded the area and they bombed the bridge. I went into labour and it was impossible to get to the hospital.” Kifa said.

Fortunatly, Feeza Shraim, a resourceful midwife, set up an emergency center in her own home in the village.

“She told me to push, push and then the head came out. Then came the baby and he started crying. That’s when the second explosion made me jump off the bed.” Despite everything, a healthy baby boy was born, who continues to thrive today.

During the 2009 conflict, Feeza Shraim helped 52 mothers give birth during a three week period.

“When anybody needs my help, I’m not afraid. I rely on God and I do it, because this is a humanitarian service and I want to help” Shraim said.

Now she’s working to train more midwives in hard-to-reach areas. And while the UN helps supply Gaza’s hospitals and clinics, and organizes a massive food distribution system, mothers in Gaza remain at risk.

Learn more about the UN in Action here at UNTV.

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