The Reverend Canon Laurette A. Glasgow has dedicated her life to building bridges of understanding between people. It was a cornerstone of her work as a former Canadian Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg. And it continues through her ministry as an Anglican priest and the Anglican Church’s Liaison to the Canadian Government.

Living her faith through loving service in a region that is dear to her heart is what drew Laurette to Project Rozana Canada, with whom she is a founding and serving Board member.

This is her inspiring story.

In our fragile world that is rife with conflict and mistrust, we are called to act with compassion and loving service to honor the dignity of each human being. It is what underpins my commitment to Project Rozana.

Compassion is foundational for the world’s major religions. Its secular counterpart can be found in the ‘golden rule’. As religious thinker and author Karen Armstrong writes, “Compassion is to feel with the other”. Our hearts are stirred by the needs of the “other”. To feel compassion is one thing. To act on it is another. Project Rozana is anchored in compassion and serves to channel our compassion into action.

The three Abrahamic Faith Traditions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – recognize in their sacred texts and traditions that healing is integral to living our faith in our communities and in the wider world. Wholeness in body, mind, and spirit help us live our humanity fully, recognizing the value, integrity, and dignity of each human being. Wholeness offers hope, a hope that is vital not only to survival, but to overcoming differences, especially in places of conflict.

Project Rozana, through the vector of health, offers hope.

The Holy Land is sacred for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It is a place of history, pilgrimage, and spiritual inspiration. It is a place where hearts are stirred but where hearts are also broken. In the midst of persistent conflict, what hope is there for peace? We pray for peace. But we can also work for peace through incremental steps that touch human hearts. It is through loving service that we give expression to our compassion and translate our faith into action. In doing so, we offer hope and help transcend differences, thereby building bridges of mutual understanding and respect. The health sector is a place where this can and does happen. Project Rozana’s ‘peace plan’ is to build understanding through loving service.

The Anglican Church of Canada, and the Diocese of Ottawa in particular, has enjoyed a special relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem for nearly a decade. The network of relationships and cooperation is heartwarming but it is also instructive as to the importance of our continued engagement and support in this region. And I am heartened by the Anglican Church of Canada’s support for Project Rozana Canada, including through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund that has agreed to work as our partner in approaching the Government of Canada for funding.

I have witnessed first-hand the transformative power of healing, both through the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s health institutions and through partnerships forged through Project Rozana’s training, transportation, and treatment initiatives. Having been to Gaza, I can attest to the difficult conditions under which health service providers must operate, including critical shortages of fuel and nutrition. The lives that are lost because of inadequate health services, especially for women with breast cancer, are heartbreaking. The transportation services provided by Road to Recovery, a key Project Rozana partner, is vital to saving lives.

This includes transport to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, an acknowledged world leader in the treatment of cancer. Without the volunteer-based Road to Recovery, the cost of taxis and other commercial transport options makes accessing treatment beyond the reach of many families.

But there is more. Crossing into Israel at the Erez border crossing can be traumatic even for those of us who enjoy good health. For those crossing into a strange land of the ‘other’, it can be terrifying. Road to Recovery volunteers provide more than transportation. They provide the face of humanity at its best through their welcoming hearts. The relationships that are forged as a result last a lifetime.

You do not need to be a person of faith to support Project Rozana. Our partnerships, both as donors and as recipients, reflect a diversity of faith traditions and beliefs, secular and religious alike. As we journey together, we learn from each other. Our knowledge of each other paves the way for our understanding of each other. As we do so, we too become part of the bridge of lasting peace.