SOLVING QUESTIONS OF LIFE AND DEATH
Thank you to Road for Recovery for the pictures here.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is so severe and widespread that many of our programs supporting the Palestinian community are being scaled back or have been deferred.
To mitigate the problems this is causing for vulnerable Palestinian children and their families, we are working closely with our partners to find ways of supporting the people who rely on us. Without that support, sadly, some will die.
Most of our Israeli volunteer drivers are in the high-risk COVID-19 category and are in self-isolation. Two weeks ago, following an urgent Facebook call-out for young volunteers by our Israeli Wheels of Hope partner, Road to Recovery, 130 young Israelis offered to help. Our newest partner, the West Bank-based Green Land Society for Health Development (GLSHD), was also able to attract new volunteers.
All the volunteers are young people determined to assist us over this difficult period. They have become a lifeline for Palestinian patients who need to reach a hospital in Israel for treatment. Although an expensive alternative, taxis are being utilised when no drivers are available. To date, no patient has been turned away.
GLSHD has lodged an urgent request with the Palestinian Authority for its West Bank volunteer drivers to be excluded from the recently-invoked lockdown and additional cross-border restrictions. They are currently awaiting official approval from the regional Governors of Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah.
Despite permit restrictions and lockdowns, Wheels of Hope continues to serve those most in need. The trips for cancer patients like 16-year old Mohamad Qasiya and 11-year old Nermin Harahsha, are still being made thanks to the dedication of our volunteer drivers. Both children’s lives depend on the week-long chemotherapy treatments they receive every 4 to 6 weeks at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, both Mohamad and Nermin must return home each day after their chemotherapy as the cost of hospitalisation is not covered by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Our Jerusalem-based partner, Humans without Borders (HwB), normally drives patients from checkpoints to hospitals in the city and provides ‘Fun Days’ several times per year for patients, their families and volunteers on both sides of the border. Fun Days have, of course, been postponed for the foreseeable future.
Rather than accept the status quo, HwB has proudly taken the initiative and is helping to provide families with a computer tablet including education and entertainment software. Not only does this provide a distraction for the children, but a much-needed respite for the parents.
The Chair of Project Rozana USA, Kenneth Bob, said the decision by HwB was another reminder of the community spirit that lies at the heart of Project Rozana.
Treatment and Training
The impact of the COVID-19 in Israel and Palestine has meant that all of our training and treatment programs are suspended until lockdowns and travel restrictions cease. Our grantees have been advised that our funding commitments will be extended to cover the time lost.
There is one bright light on the treatment side. As part of a strategy to prevent possible COVID-19 infection for immune-depressed patients, the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) has billeted all its pediatric dialysis patients, together with their caregivers, at a hotel in East Jerusalem. Project Rozana has provided AVH with a once-off grant to assist in defraying the costs of this accommodation and transport to and from the hospital.
Larry Lester, chair of HwB, said the situation at AVH was proving difficult for some of the families, especially with children unable to adjust to their confined environment.
“We purchased a trove of handicraft materials, games and puzzles which were delivered to the children,” Larry said. “This was exactly what they needed and if necessary, we will do it again.”
He paid tribute to Project Rozana for its continuing support.
“Our partners have proven once again that they are resilient, focused and totally committed to the philosophy of Project Rozana – to build better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health,”
says Ron Finkel AM, Chair of Project Rozana Australia and International.