NOVEMBER 2021 NEWSLETTER
Welcome to our newsletter, the last for 2021. And what a productive year it has been for Project Rozana! We are pleased to share our latest news and views with you, starting with Chair Ron Finkel’s editorial. We look forward to an even more exciting 2022.
Ron Finkel AM, Chair, Project Rozana International
After seven years of building our reputation through action and outcome, Project Rozana has achieved major milestones in Australia, Israel and Palestine. In the last year, we have reached a point that only a short time ago seemed an improbable dream.
We have not only gained the trust of three governments, but positioned ourselves to fulfil our Mission of building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians through the agency of healthcare.
In each case our relationship is unique, but in quantum, it shows that our quiet and determined diplomacy has borne fruit. The beneficiaries are predominantly vulnerable Palestinian children. Beyond them is an ever-widening circle of family and community, all impacted by our work.
On the outer edges, but no less significant, are the Israeli facilitators who are critical to the wellbeing of these children. These include healthcare workers in the major Israeli hospitals who lovingly treat the children, and educators who are committed to upskilling Palestinian doctors, nurses and therapists to build Palestinian health capacity. We also value the volunteer drivers in Israel and Palestine who ensure that children are safely transported to and from the hospitals.
Since 2013 we have carefully chartered a course that ultimately convinced the three governments that we were strategic in our approach, transparent and non-partisan in our activities, and determined in our delivery.
Allow me to provide a snapshot of what led to the current situation.
In mid-2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging out of control, it became increasingly clear that smaller, under-resourced communities would find it increasingly difficult to access needed equipment for their hospitals. Despite the bonhomie of the larger countries, in reality it was a dog-eat-dog experience.
It was often the highest bidder who was able to secure life-saving equipment, with little regard for the impact that it might cause to countries whose need was more desperate than theirs.
Undeterred, Project Rozana mounted a global appeal to provide hard-to-source ICU-enabled ventilators for Palestinian hospitals. We effectively moved mountains to find these ventilator packages and secure them despite frenzied bidding by well-resourced countries.
There was also an urgency to ship them in a time-critical fashion to assist the Palestinian Authority (PA) prepare its hospitals for the expected explosion in COVID-19 cases.
There were many heroes during these fraught months. Among them was the Australian Government which worked closely with us to ensure that equipment held in its storage would be released. We agreed to replace these units once our orders with the manufacturer were filled.
Another hero was the Government of Israel. They were fully briefed and agreed to ensure the equipment reached Ramallah as soon as possible after it landed in Israel. They were already invested in supporting the Palestinian health system, so we were encouraged by their commitment.
As a result we earned the trust and admiration of the PA. We have maintained a close relationship with their senior officials ever since, even dedicating our Regional Director, Dr Raid Mansour, as our point person. Raid is a man of great integrity who has earned the confidence of all the key players in the region.
Together with Raid, Project Rozana Israel’s Chair Doron Levinson and Executive Director Ronit Zimmer, maintain close relations with senior PA figures. Without this mutual trust it would be extremely difficult to deliver on our Mission (see story this issue).
These relationships have been noted in Australia.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade invited Project Rozana to apply for NGO Accreditation and entry into the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (see story this issue). This would not have been possible without evidence of our ability to engage with and add value to the Palestinian community.
Ron Finkel AM
We have walked a great distance since we started out as an idea that was strong on promise. We are emboldened to keep walking, knowing that we are playing a small but important part in bridging the divide between Israelis and Palestinians through the agency of health.
SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR HELPING SICK CHILDREN
Lebanon sentenced me to 10 years in prison for helping sick Palestinian children – I consider my work a badge of honour.
It’s November 2017. Dr Jamal Rifi AM, a dual Australian Lebanese citizen, a Director of Project Rozana Australia and a dedicated professional providing medical care to the people of Sydney, visits Israel and the Palestinian Territories for the first time.
What moves him?
At Sheba hospital in Tel Aviv, he meets Muhi, a severely handicapped Palestinian boy from Gaza.
Muhi is alive thanks to the dedicated work of the professional staff at Sheba, and the funding support for his surgery and treatment provided by the Palestinian Authority.
In Nablus, on the West Bank, Dr Rifi meets Palestinian families and their critically ill children. They were able to receive PA funded treatment in hospitals in Israel because of the free transportation provided by Project Rozana’s Wheels of Hope partners.
For the “crime” of caring for the critical health needs of Palestinian children, Dr Rifi, now the Deputy Chair of Project Rozana Australia, was tried in absentia. And sentenced to 10 years in prison. His response was penned in an opinion piece for the Guardian Australia.
WHEELS ON TRACK
Planning for future growth was the key theme of a meeting convened by Project Rozana Israel with its three Wheels of Hope (WoH) partners.
Proposals for funding in 2022 were requested from…
- Road to Recovery (RtR).
- Humans without Borders.
- Green Land Society for Health Development.
Once the proposals are received these will be reviewed by the Project Rozana Review Committee prior to final PR International Board approval.
This is time-critical with the anticipated growth in the number of transportations from the West Bank and Gaza. More approvals are being granted for Palestinian patients to receive treatments in Israeli hospitals.
This provides our Wheels of Hope partners with ambitious targets to deliver on their mission. We will work closely with them in support of critically ill children.
Ronit Zimmer, Project Rozana Israel.
In further news, Road to Recovery has appointed a new CEO to replace retiring founder and long-term face of RtR, Yuval Roth. Yuval is shown above with a patient and his family.
Naama Goraly is the new CEO. She has been an active volunteer for many years and recently became the administrative manager. She is committed to the WoH program and is respected by the volunteer drivers and the families they serve.
Ms Goraly paid tribute to Yuval Roth and acknowledged that she has “big shoes to fill”. She said,
“WoH has created wonderful trust and personal connections, which is the key to the program’s ongoing success. In good times and in times of sorrow, the volunteers come together with the children and families they serve. They celebrate during visits and fun days. And make condolence visits to share in the grief when a child they have been driving succumbs to their illness.”
Naama Goraly, new CEO of Road to Recovery (right) with Palestinian RtR Coordinator, Hiba Qadi (left).
Ms Zimmer extended Project Rozana’s thanks to all supporters and donors who have helped build strong and purposeful relationships between people in Israel and Palestine. This is shown most profoundly through Wheels of Hope.
ADVANCED TRAUMA LIFE SUPPORT TRAINING
The ATLS course is a ‘first’ for Project Rozana and will be at Wolfson Medical Center.
The goal is to optimise trauma care for Israeli and Palestinian patients.
The ATLS course will be led by Dr Adam Goldstein, Head of Trauma Surgery Dr Adam Goldstein (pictured above).
The course is also designed to strengthen access to care for neglected populations and form bridges of communication and cooperation with Palestinian colleagues.
The ATLS course is an internationally recognized training course adopted by over 80 countries, provides an essential foundation for trauma care.
Not only is it proven to increase survival of trauma victims, it is also a required medical qualification for most international fellowship/residency programs and jobs.
The project will benefit doctors and patients. It will lessen the disparities in trauma and acute surgical care for Palestinians and optimise and standardise the ‘trauma system’ across political boundaries. This will benefit the populations while providing a platform for cooperation now and into the future.
We are grateful to Project Rozana USA, Israel and Australia for reaching out to the inspiring Rotary organization.