After nearly a month trapped in Gaza, a Grand Junction pediatrician is finally coming home

Photo provided by Dr. Paul Preston
Dr. Barbara Zind has been working with the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund for more than a decade.

In a WhatsApp message to CPR News, Dr. Barbara Zind said that she should be flying out of Cairo on what would be Thursday night in Colorado. The day before, she was one of hundreds of foreign nationals allowed through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. 

She called the scene “chaos” and estimated the process of getting through the border took about 12 hours.

“I know they were prioritizing the ambulances and critically ill people getting out, and I appreciate that,” she said. “And I'm sure their families do, too.”

Zind arrived in Gaza just before the surprise attack by Hamas on a humanitarian mission with the Palestine Children’s Relief fund to help chronically ill kids. After initially sheltering in her hotel room, she moved to a series of United Nations facilities, where she and other aid workers supported one another and kept their spirits up amid increasing airstrikes and shortages of badly needed supplies.

Throughout her time in Gaza, Zind kept bringing the focus of her messages to the people of Gaza and their experience in the Israeli-Hamas conflict. She described how unsanitary the refugee camps had become, filled with people who have lost family members and homes — people with nowhere to go. Food, water and gas are all running dangerously low, and people are “desperate,” Barb said.

In one of her last messages from Gaza, Zind described how some Gaza residents had shared gas and cooking utensils with her group of aid workers.

“It’s just amazing how they are, hospitable and generous,” she said. 

As Zind’s group left the U.N. camp, she could see that just outside the facility, people had started to create makeshift stores and shelters. 

“Just kind of setting up places to live and communities wherever they went,” she said.

This is a developing story, and CPR News will bring you updates as they become available.