WHEELS OF HOPE KEEP TURNING
The number of Palestinian patients seeking treatment in Israel has returned to pre-COVID-19 numbers. This is a very pleasing outcome as the lack of access to Israeli medical services for many Palestinians had the potential to severely compromise their physical and mental health.
This is the news we had been waiting for. It was delivered by our Project Rozana Wheels of Hope partners – Green Land Society for Health Development (GLSHD) in Hebron, Humans Without Borders (HWB) in Jerusalem, and Road to Recovery (RtR).
Ruth Ramone Rosen, Executive Director of Project Rozana, after speaking with the heads of the three organisations says,
“Despite the continuing spread of Covid-19, a resilient group of volunteers has returned to activity and, on a daily basis are assisting the patients and families. Many of the young Israeli and Palestinian volunteers who supported the initiative from the early days of the coronavirus spread were reactivated. Older volunteers who generally fall into the high-risk age group, have not been able to continue driving. ”
The three organisations are working with a coordinated strategy to ensure transport for patients who are referred from the Palestinian Ministry of Health to Israeli hospitals.
In the West Bank, the closures of many services meant that GLSHD needed approval from the Palestinian Authority to acquire special safety kits for both patients and volunteers. This included gloves, masks, and gowns. These weren’t always available or affordable.
The organisations reported that from mid-March to mid-May as a result of the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases, the Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahur areas were isolated by the Palestinian Authority. It meant that children requiring medical attention were unable to get to the hospitals in Jerusalem.
To overcome this problem, Project Rozana arranged for Augusta Victoria Hospital to accommodate all children undergoing dialysis treatment in a hotel in East Jerusalem. The Wheels of Hope partner organisations assisted further by purchasing toys, games and arts and crafts materials. These were received with great joy by the children.
This unprecedented and unplanned for pandemic has strained everyone, many to breaking point. In practical terms it has meant even longer delays at checkpoints, adding to the fear and frustration of patients and their families.
But the selfless work of the Wheels of Hope volunteers has not gone unnoticed. As one family member said after his child received a gift,
“We thank you very much for the present, but your presence today and your continuous support are the most beautiful gifts of all. I hope you remain healthy and in good spirits, as always. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”