Zena and an HI staffer in Gaza
Gaza Emergency

First responder volunteer loses her eyesight

Zena lives in the south of the Gaza Strip, in the governorate of Rafah. Trained in first aid, she was among the first to help the injured when demonstrations began last March. On May 13, she was assisting three people when a bullet hit her in the face, causing her to lose 70% of her vision. She also fractured her right wrist as she fell to the ground.


A housewife and mother of eight children, her injury has had a serious impact on her daily life. She is now highly sensitive to light and noise–even the television is too loud for her. "I want my sight back,” she says. “I’m a housewife, so it makes life very hard. I shouldn't be exposed to heat, but I have to cook. And I get tired very easily.”

Zena, who has a graduate degree, planned to become a teacher. But the violence in Gaza has cut her ambitions short. "My dream was to be a teacher. Because of what I am and how I look, there’s no way I can do it now. Physical appearance is very important when dealing with children.”

HI's support

A few days after her injury, Zena met a mobile HI team who identified her needs. Medics cleaned her eye and she spent eight days in hospital due to her fracture. To help her recovery both physically and emotionally, HI provided her with physical therapy care and psychological support. She will need additional surgeries to fully restore her sight.


The Gaza crisis and HI’s response

  • HI and its local partners have set up 12 mobile teams. These teams include rehabilitation professionals, psychologists, and social workers. They visit individuals who have been injured in their homes, as there is not enough space in hospitals to see patients, as well as, to ease the burden of travel costs.
  • HI’s mobile teams have provided services such as rehabilitation care, post-operative care, psychosocial support, assistive devices to more than 900 injured patients and will reach hundreds more in the coming weeks.
  • HI also prepared contingency stocks in each governorate, including mobility aids (crutches and wheelchairs), emergency wound management, and kitchen kits, which have reduced waiting times for these resources.