A Palestinian father from North Gaza, whose family has been in home isolation for COVID-19, spoke to Al Mezan about the increasing hardship he faces due to the pandemic:
“I’m the primary provider for a family of 14. We have been living on a monthly salary of 1,000 Shekels. My wife recently landed a job as a cleaner at the Indonesian Hospital, where she works in alternating 14-day shifts, so I parent our children alone most of the time.
On Saturday, 29 August 2020, my son Hatem hurt his head while playing at home. I took him to the nearby pharmacy first but was advised to go to hospital instead because he had cut his head so badly he needed stitches, so we went to Al-Awda Hospital. I couldn’t afford the 25-shekel fees there, so we ended up receiving the treatment Hatem needed at the Indonesian Hospital, where my wife works, then we walked back home.
When I arrived, my daughter Israa, 22, told me she was is severe pain. She had been in pain for days and was having difficulty breathing in addition to Influenza-like symptoms. I bought an over-the-counter medication from the pharmacy and served her lemonade and hot drinks. Having been outside for most of the day, I was too exhausted, so I asked my other daughter Islam, 16, to accompany Israa to the hospital. I was absolutely clueless about the severity of her condition, and had I known she would test positive for coronavirus and be taken to a quarantine facility, I would have taken her to the hospital myself (the father bursts into tears). Israa’s health deteriorated and was later transferred to Gaza European Hospital, and we have maintained contact with her through phone calls since then.
A group of police officers showed up at our house and asked us to stay there until healthcare workers collected samples from the entire family on Thursday. We received the devastating news that my children, Islam, 16, Ghada, 13, Janat, 8, Baraa, 19, Tawfik, 26, Mohammed, 24, and I have all been infected when the test results came back positive on Saturday evening, 5 September 2020.
We have been confined at home since then. Relatives and neighbors are the only support we have now. My sister sends us bread every day, and my neighbor, who’s a doctor, is helping me manage a rash that spread on my hand, knowing that I suffer from hypertension. I can’t afford supplements or other drugs that might ease our symptoms, and I have been sharing the only painkillers we had at home with my children. We have received one food basket so far and have been trying in vain to contact the Ministry of Agriculture, who offered to help home-isolated families like mine.”