Winter Health Camp Creates Community
Lajee hosted its second annual winter health camp for 60 women from Aida and Beit Jibrin camps from 16-20 November. The winter health camp focuses on creating a safe environment for women to learn, socialize, and build community with one another. Topics covered in the camp included not only health issues but also discussions and information about the situation in Palestine. The camp gave the women a chance to express themselves, work together, and get to know their neighbors better.
Day 1 & 2
The first day focused on creating a sense of community and trust. Through ice breakers, social activities, and sharing breakfast, the women got to know each other. Two community social workers led the women in an exercise of meditation.
On the second day, Athal Al-Azzeh, Lajee’s gym coordinator, gave a lecture on physical health, including stretching and protecting joints during daily movement. The day also included lectures from Bethlehem University nursing students and field trainer for community health Siham Ikhliel on diabetes and awareness about necessary lab tests for patients.
Lajee Community Health Worker Aya Darwish led a discussion about the importance of remembering the recent martyrs in Jenin and Nablus and understanding the reasons for the resistance. The women did a group activity discussing their stories of suffering under occupation – whether the effects of the wall, prisoners or martyrs in the family, or the difficulty visiting Jerusalem due to the occupation’s permit regime – and then drawing their stories together. Through this activity, the women grew to know each other’s stories and understand more about the suffering they share as a result of the occupation. They also received a lecture from Dr. Mohammad Abu Srour about the prevalence of swine flu in Palestine. They planted vegetables in the hydroponic system in Lajee’s rooftop greenhouse, and ended the day with a competition answering questions about Palestine and winning prizes for correct answers.
Day 4 & 5
Marking World Diabetes Day, the final day of activities in the center included lectures on diabetes, maternal and child health, breathing exercises and tips for releasing stress and negative energy. This day was in cooperation with Bethlehem University’s program coordinator of the practice of midwifery, Fatima al-Madani and the field trainer for community health, Siham Ikhliel, as well as their students.
The program finished on Sunday with a trip of the women’s choice. They chose to go the Turkish bath in Hebron and an opportunity to truly relax and enjoy one another’s company.
One of the women participating in the camp, Ms. Najiyah Awda, said about the experience: “The camp was wonderful. It really makes us get active. Personally, I used to wake up late in the day but because of the winter camp and the activities we are doing I was motivated to wake up early to be able to get to the camp and start activities with the others. For me, the benefit that I got from the camp was being able to see the doctors and the nurses and increasing my awareness about better life habits.”
Ms. Samar Qandeel echoed Ms. Awda about the benefits of the camp saying, “There were many activities including health education and awareness as well as recreational activities. As we are women who have diabetes and hypertension, we got a lot of benefits from the activities, including new health information.”
Lajee’s team of Community Health Workers include Mahmood Mashaiekh, Aya Darwish, Abdullah Abuouda, Nora Abu Obeid, Nema Radi. Lajee’s Community Health Workers work with nearly 120 patients, visiting them regularly in their homes to check their health and follow up on medications and lab tests.