It’s hard to imagine that on a balmy night in Sydney, Australia in late May – thousands of kilometers away from one of the most conflicted regions in the world – we were able to bring to life the reality that Israelis and Palestinians face on a daily basis.

This is the summary of Project Rozana Australia’s first major fundraising dinner by the organization’s Executive Director, Ruth Ramone Rosen. It brought together communal, religious, political and diplomatic leaders along with interested others.

The event was an opportunity to explore the story of the people who provide world-first healthcare, and those who require that standard of care to live full and productive lives.

It was possible because of two remarkable individuals – one Israeli, one Palestinian.

The first, Professor Esti Galili-Weisstub, is an acclaimed Israeli child and adolescent psychiatrist, one of the most in-demand therapists in her field. The second, Dr A. Abdel-Rahman, is a highly-regarded physiotherapist who runs an organisation based in Hebron that is having a significant impact on the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank.

Pictured above, l-r: Hugh Rimington, Dr Jamal Rifi AM, Mrs and Mr Izzat Abdulhadi ( Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific), Ron Finkel AM, Dr Abdel-Rahmen, Prof Galili-Weisstub

Professor Galili and Dr Abdel-Rahmen track different paths but where their work intersects, in programs funded by Project Rozana, the relationship is powerful and purposeful. On that night in May, it provided a moment of clarity for those of us who want to see profound, systemic change in the future for all people in this region.

It was also the first time that many of the leaders publicly joined with their like-minded counterparts to express a belief that change is possible if we walk hand-in-hand with a shared purpose.

In addition to the speeches and bonhomie, three short videos were shown,

  • ‘So I Can Live: Abdallah’s Journey’, a brief and moving exploration of Road to Recovery, a Project Rozana-funded program. This is mentored in the West Bank by Dr Abdel-Rahman’s organisation, the Green Land Society for Health Development.
  • An insight into the Jerusalem-based Binational School of Psychotherapy. This is founded by Esti and a game-changer in the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian children suffering from PTSD.
  • A news report from SBS TV, Australia’s multicultural and multilingual broadcaster.

Professor Galili and Dr Abdul Rahmen also participated in a radio interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Patricia Karvelas on Radio National. 

Powerful testimony came from David Gonski AC, a co-patron of the event. David’s passionate call for support on the night beautifully expresses the essence of Project Rozana, and the reason why it has, in six short years, morphed from an Australian charitable initiative to one that is active in the United States, Canada and Israel.

Money raised from the dinner will support the Binational School of Psychotherapy, Road to Recovery, and medical training fellowships. Fellowships provide Palestinian doctors and therapists with the opportunity to work alongside highly-experienced Israelis. They expand their skills for the benefit of their patients, and build the health capacity of Palestinian society. Over the long term with this will lessen Palestinian dependence on the Israeli healthcare system.

Messages of support were received from Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, Israel’s Ambassador to Australia, Mark Sofer, and the Head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi. See them on the event page.

If you wish to donate to this important cause, please do so. Your financial support WILL make a difference not only to the lives of vulnerable children but to extending the hand of friendship between people.

Below is Le Montage,  Sydney, Australia.