Pictured above, students attending the Bi-national School of Psychotherapy in Jerusalem.

The donation by World Vision Australia of AUD$420,000 to the Binational School of Psychotherapy in 2016 helped to provide a platform on which to build professional relationships between Israeli and Palestinian therapists through specialist training.

World Vision’s David Verboom.

It also signified the largest investment that World Vision has made in Israel.

It happened through the dedication of Hadassah therapist and educator, Dr Esti Galili-Weisstub, and respected senior World Vision manager, David Verboom.

On the eve of his departure for Europe to take up a new role, David spoke about the school and the challenges and achievements that he faced in his two-and-a-half years as World Vision’s National Director, Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza.

David says,

“From the outset, the political climate was an impediment in terms of the planning and implementation. This is a unique and innovative project, but the challenges were significant and, to some extent, remain so. Yet on any objective analysis, it has achieved everything that Esti Galili hoped for.


“The most significant challenges are cross- border issues, such as permits and registration, as well as community pressure. This was particularly problematic for therapists from Gaza who were required to visit Jerusalem on a weekly basis during the course. Nevertheless we managed to get them involved in this important training.


“The funding was initially for two years, but we have managed to gain the support of the European Union which will allow the school to continue and grow.”


“The climate is difficult and unfortunately, has become even more of a problem. It’s not only the physical wall that is a symbol of the discrimination and dislocation between people, but the mental walls that we have to contend with.


“Peace and bridge building needs principled leadership and for us as World Vision it is part of our humanitarian impartiality to support any child, teenager, patient and community that is in need, irrespective of their background, ethnicity, nationality, religion or social status. In addition, our values promote that we are all God’s children, and that we need to learn to live and work together.”


According to UNICEF, 95% of children in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are exposed to violence and trauma. Approximately one third of these experiences are caused in the street as a result of the ongoing conflict. One third is experienced in school, and one third is experienced in the home through domestic violence and sexual abuse.


“The future of the binational school depends almost entirely on funding, and I urge Australians to continue their support. With the EU grant, any dollar provided will be multiplied five-fold. Two years after the school opened its doors, we can see how important it has been in delivering positive change for the children and youth. We must not lose that initiative.”