TWO AND A HALF YEARS MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Jon Allen (pictured below), is a Director of Project Rozana Canada. He attended both the first International Directors mission in 2017 and the latest mission in March 2020. It shows just how far our relatively young non-profit has come. Here he give a personal reflection.
So what are the differences between 2017 and 2020? What have they meant for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza?
In 2017 we focused primarily on transport and treatment, two of the three key pillars on which Project Rozana is built. We visited checkpoints where Israeli volunteer drivers working with Road to Recovery (RtR) collect mostly Palestinian children and their caregivers to transport them to Israeli hospitals.
In 2020, we met with two new services that complement the work of RtR. Jerusalem-based Humans without Borders and Hebron-based Green Land Society for Health Development (GLSHD) have joined RtR under the banner of ‘Wheels of Hope’ in this important initiative. And ‘hope’ is in abundant supply thanks to the remarkable volunteers across all three organizations, which are wholly or partly funded by Project Rozana.
Collectively, these Wheels of Hope services transport some 3,000 patients over approx. 1,300,000 km annually.
Not only has there been a marked increase in the number of volunteer drivers since 2017, but GLSHD has attracted over 150 passionate young Palestinians who are providing peace of mind for patients and their families in the West Bank. Without this service, many families would be unable to meet the cost of commercial transport, thereby putting lives at risk.
In 2017, we received a briefing on operations being performed on Palestinian children who, as a result of consanguinity – close cousin marriages – exhibited severe sex differentiation symptoms. Project Rozana started funding these operations, which the Palestinian Authority neither sanctions nor acknowledges.
The 2017 mission gave us the opportunity to observe at close quarters where the needs were. That proved to be fertile ground for our fundraising initiatives. We visited the Lutheran-supported Augusta Victoria Hospital and observed the dozens of hemodialysis patients on the ward and saw the pediatric oncology unit close-up. I realize now that 2017 was largely a learning mission during which we made multiple contacts and where we began to spread the word regarding Project Rozana’s vision and goals.
As the 2020 Mission unfolded, it became obvious that Project Rozana has begun to make a real difference. This was evident when we gathered over dinner in Jerusalem with our Israeli and Palestinian partner organizations. Among the invited guests were the…
- Local heads and representatives of the World Health Organization.
- Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP).
- Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
- World Lutheran Federation.
- Canadian Government’s Office in Ramallah.
Our guests spoke eloquently about the needs in the region and confirmed that Project Rozana-funded projects were demonstrating real and measured success.
During the next three days we were briefed by the co-directors of two impressive projects that Project Rozana not only funds but also initiated by bringing together Israeli and Palestinian partner institutions.
The first is an eighteen month training project between the ALYN Pediatric Rehabilitation Hospital in Jerusalem and the Anglican Church-supported Princess Basma Rehabilitation Center in East Jerusalem. Ten medical practitioners from Princess Basma are in the process of being trained at ALYN, one of the most sophisticated institutions of its kind in the world.
The second is a training partnership between the venerable Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem and the Nephrology Institute of the new Assuta Hospital in Ashdod. The Director of Nephrology at Assuta and the Medical Director and Chief Nephrologist at Augusta Victoria Hospital explained how the Project Rozana peritoneal dialysis training project has allowed Palestinian children and adults to be treated at home rather than spending their days in hospital wards unable to attend school or work.
In addition to meeting partners in existing projects, our group also met with medical staff at Rambam Hospital in Haifa and at the Scottish (EMMS) Hospital in Nazareth. Both institutions are committed to working with their colleagues in the Palestinian Territories and with Project Rozana to consider potential training programs in the areas of clearly defined need. One possibility going forward could be family practice training.
What was perhaps most gratifying for me personally was to realize that since 2017 Project Rozana’s vision and specific goals are being met. Our projects are bridging the divide between Israelis and Palestinians and demonstrating that their commonalities are often more evident than their differences. At the same time, the projects are addressing the specific training, transportation and treatment needs of Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.
There were many special moments during our five-day mission to Israel and Palestine. We’re happy to share them with you in our picture gallery.
Jon Allen of Project Rozana Canada, is a former Canadian Ambassador to Israel and Spain.
Project Rozana Mission participants with GLSHD and HWB staff, volunteer drivers and families – Beit Jala