2019 YEAR IN REVIEW
Project Rozana At Parliament Of World Religions
(L-R): Ron Finkel AM and The Reverend Canon Laurette Glasgow – Parliament of World Religions Project Rozana presentation [photo Matt Gardner}
Project Rozana was a participant in the Parliament of World Religions held in Toronto in early November 2018. Speaking about compassion and healing, especially in areas of conflict, Project Rozana Canada Board Member Rev Canon Laurette Glasgow, led the team and helped set the scene for harmonious engagement. Her presentation was followed by former Canadian diplomat and fellow Board member Jon Allen, who noted how the economic and political turmoil in Israel and Palestine was affecting the Palestinian community, particularly in the area of health. That led into Ron Finkel’s presentation of the work being undertaken by Project Rozana to build bridges of understanding and helping to fill the health gaps in the Palestinian medical system through mobilizing professionals and volunteers on both sides.
The Wheel Deal – US Launches ‘Adopt-A-Driver’ Campaign
Every year, many thousands of Palestinian children require extensive life-saving medical care unavailable to them in the Palestinian Territories. They have no choice but to commute long distances with their caregivers (usually family members) from their homes to Israeli checkpoints on the West Bank or Gaza Strip, and from there, to one of 13 hospitals in Israel.
To add further stress, the financial burden of transiting from home to checkpoint and then to the hospital can easily cost up to USD $100 for a single-trip.
For Palestinian families with an average monthly income of $1,000 this can be a heavy burden. For those with children requiring multiple hospital visits a month the burden is too challenging.
To assist Palestinian families overcome their financial stress, free transportation is provided by volunteer drivers with the West Bank NGO, Green Land Society for Health Development (GLSHD),who transport ill Palestinian children and their caregivers from their homes in the West Bank to Israeli checkpoints. Once patients and caregivers cross the checkpoint, they are met by volunteer drivers from Israeli NGOs Road to Recovery and Humans without Borders and are transported to medical facilities throughout Israel for treatment.
Project Rozana has been contacted by other NGOs functioning in the space and we hope to develop further synergies between the organizations while increasing the overall funding for this invaluable service.
In support of these vital services, Project Rozana USA created the ‘Adopt-A-Driver Campaign’. The Chair of the organization, Kenneth Bob, explains:
US Communities Fuel Free Hospital Transfers for Palestinian Patients
In 2019, Project Rozana USA introduced the Adopt-a-Driver program. The program was designed to offer religious institutions, clubs and community groups an opportunity to connect with Project Rozana’s mission and to financially support this essential service that provides Palestinian patients and their escort with free transport to hospitals in Israel from their homes in the West Bank.
Our partners on the ground, Road to Recovery and Humans without Borders (Israel) and the Hebron-based Palestinian NGO Green Land Society for Health Development in the West Bank provide us with profiles of drivers which are then assigned to the adopting entity.
Early adopters of this program include:
- Jacobi Medical Society, a group of Jewish doctors in Maryland who meet regularly for educational programs and networking. I was invited to present to a meeting in early 2019 and as a result they decided to join the program. They have raised enough money to adopt three drivers in the first year.
- Huntington Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue on Long Island invited Project Rozana to present a program this fall and as a result, the congregation’s Executive Committee decided to make the Adopt-a-Driver initiative an official synagogue project. Funds to adopt two drivers have already been raised.
- The community of Falmouth, MA organizes an annual interfaith Alternative Gift Market, a two-day weekend fundraising event on the Upper Cape. Each year they choose international organizations to highlight and Road to Recovery was one of the selected groups. The funds raised equal the amount needed to sponsor two drivers.
Following our last speaker’s tour in 2018, the Greater Washington DC chapter of Project Rozana was formed. It is an interfaith group that has a shared commitment to help those in society who are most in need.
According to Chapter coordinator Walter Ruby, the rationale behind the establishment of the group is to “Support the life-saving work of Project Rozana in Israel-Palestine and by volunteering to do community service work in inner-city Washington.”
To date they have raised enough money to sponsor an Israeli and a Palestinian driver. They also work alongside local volunteers from the Masjid Muhammad DC (termed ’the Nation’s Mosque’) in distributing fresh fruits, vegetables, canned and packaged food items in advance of Thanksgiving to residents of the Anacostia area, which has the highest poverty rate in Washington D.C. There are other groups already involved with the Adopt-A-Driver program and we hope to see many more join in 2020.
Israeli and Palestinian Healthcare Volunteers Win Peace Price
Project Rozana USA has taken its support for life-saving transport service Road to Recovery to the next level after two key members of the volunteer-based Road to Recovery were awarded the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) annual Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East following their nomination by PRUSA. The prize is valued at $10,000 and was first presented in 2005. Nominated with Yuval Roth is Palestinian Naeem Al-Baeda, who for seven years has been involved with coordinating patient transfers at the checkpoints to ensure a smooth process.
“Yuval and Naeem represent the best of humanity and within their selfless actions we can see how the future can evolve for these two communities,” says Kenneth Bob, Chair of Project Rozana USA. “The Victor J. Goldberg Prize is a fitting tribute to their commitment. I am extremely proud that Project Rozana is able to play its part in spreading the message that is so eloquently delivered every day in Israel and Palestine.”
The award ceremony was held at America House in Jerusalem on June 12. Among those present was Victor J. Goldberg; Chris Hodges, Public Affairs Officer at the Palestinian Affairs Unit of the US Embassy; Allan Goodman, President & CEO of the IIE; and representatives of Project Rozana.
Victor Goldberg said the award has become a symbol of the power of international education to bring people together to solve shared problems.
Project Rozana USA Opens New Chapter
With financial support from the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Project Rozana USA launched a local chapter in the Greater Washington DC area. Kenneth Bob, Chair of PRUSA, reports:
On the evening of June 13 we held an inspirational launch event of the Greater Washington Chapter of Project Rozana (GWCPR) at the home of Dr. Maqsood and Nadira Chaudhry. Twenty-three people from diverse faith backgrounds took part in the meeting. (Dr Chaudhry recently became a Board member of Project Rozana USA).
The GWCPR, which will serve as the prototype for future chapters in cities across America, will support the work of Project Rozana in Israel and Palestine, as well as co-sponsor community service events in the Washington area. This is an expression of our commitment to the moral imperative in Judaism, Islam and Christianity, to help those in society who are most in need. Walter Ruby, a veteran activist in Muslim-Jewish relations, will serve as coordinator of the GWCPR.
Participants received an update on the latest developments in Project Rozana’s work in the region. These include Road to Recovery, a program through which volunteer Israeli and Palestinian drivers join forces to transport Palestinian patients, mostly children, to hospital appointments in Israel. It also includes logistical and financial support for advanced training for Palestinian health care professionals in Israeli hospitals. This enables them to improve the quality of health care in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Of particular interest to attendees was the news regarding Dr. Khadra Salami, a Palestinian pediatric oncologist at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, who took part in a Project Rozana event last year at the ADAMS Center. Khadra will undertake fellowship training in pediatric bone marrow transplantation at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. (See ‘Supporting the Aiia Maasarwe Memorial Medical Fellowship’).
Participants in the meeting held a wide-ranging discussion and brainstorming session about ways that the GWCPR can support the work of Project Rozana, while supporting community service initiatives and strengthening Interfaith ties here at home.
Project Rozana Canada Endorsed By Major Donor
The Asper Foundation gave a CA$50,000 donation to Project Rozana Canada. Many Canadians will be aware of the work of philanthropists Israel and Babs Asper whose belief in philanthropy as a driving force behind changing the quality of people’s life was renowned, particularly in Winnipeg. We are delighted that The Asper Foundation identified Project Rozana as an initiative that brings better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health.
Launch of Australian Medical Training Program
Project Rozana is an advocate of ‘train local – stay local’. This means that Palestinians who train in Israel are more likely to stay within the Palestinian health system. In order to support that and encourage Palestinian health professionals to develop world-class skills locally, we have initiated the Medical Training Program.
The tragic death in Melbourne in January 2019 of Palestinian-Israeli exchange student, Aiia Maasarwe, was the catalyst for Project Rozana Australia launching the Aiia Maasarwe Memorial Medical Training Program. Aiia’s family embraced the opportunity to honour their daughter through a program that reflected their family value of engagement and outreach with the “other”.
“Like so many people in Australia and around the world, the leadership of Project Rozana was deeply affected by Aiia’s tragic death,” said Ron Finkel AM, Chair of Project Rozana Australia & International. “We were motivated to create a project in her name that would have lasting impact and represent in some way the power and joy of her life rather than the tragedy of her death. Project Rozana is humbled and honoured to have the support of Aiia’s family in establishing this training initiative.”
In October 2019, Project Rozana Australia welcomed Aiia’s father Saeed Maasarwe, and sister Noor to the launch of the Training Program, which will provide financial support to Palestinian physicians training at Israeli hospitals. (Saeed Maasarwe wrote an important opinion piece – please refer to Appendix 1).
‘Wheels Of Hope’ Transportation Initiative Launched
Project Rozana’s transportation program is making a positive difference to the lives of Palestinian children and their families.
In 2019, volunteer drivers from Israeli and Palestinian NGOs funded by Project Rozana undertook over 30,000 patient transfers and covered more than 1,500,000 kms.
Our support for Road to Recovery and Humans without Borders – the Israeli arm of ‘Wheels of Hope’ – began almost on the day we opened our doors in 2013.
Transport of vulnerable Palestinian patients, in particular its children residing in the West Bank and Gaza, is a core pillar on which the ethos of our organization is based.
Having observed how important this free service is, we saw an opportunity to fund the service on the Palestinian side as well. This not only removes a significant cost that Palestinian families face in order to reach Israeli hospitals from the checkpoints, but also brings Israelis and Palestinians together to appreciate the humanity of ‘the other’,
This happened after meeting the inspirational head of Hebron-based Green Land Society for Health Development, Dr Abdul-Rahman. As a result, a sister service is now available to Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank to the checkpoints. This provides a seamless service for the patients and their carer, removing the need for costly commercial transport.
We named the overarching service ‘Wheels of Hope’ and we also hope that one day we can initiate a similar service in Gaza.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Achievements, Impact, Projects
- Project Rozana At Parliament Of World Religions
- The Wheel Deal – US Launches ‘Adopt-A-Driver’ Campaign
- Israeli And Palestinian Healthcare Volunteers
- Project Rozana USA Opens New Chapter
- Project Rozana Canada Endorsed By Major Donor
- Launch of Australian Medical Training Program
- ‘Wheels of Hope’ Transportation Initiative Launched
- North America Speakers Tour
- Australia Speakers Tour
- Israel - Italian Embassy Presentation
- Parlor Meetings