Hundreds of Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will have access to improved health care at the Hadassah Medical Center thanks to a unique multi-faith partnership that was launched on May 24th at a media conference in Melbourne, Australia.
Entitled Project Rozana, this multi-faceted endeavor, endorsed by the health ministry of the Palestinian Authority, is being brought to fruition by the Hadassah Australia Foundation, Anglican Overseas Aid, and the Hadassah Medical Center. Its goal is three-fold:
- To provide pediatric intensive care at Hadassah Hospital to Palestinian children with acute medical needs
- To train Palestinian doctors from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in pediatric specialties at Hadassah
- To train Palestinian psychologists and trauma counsellors at Hadassah.
The project is named after Rozana Ghannam, a Palestinian girl who was treated at Hadassah in May 2012 when, at four years of age, she fell from a ninth floor balcony in her village near Ramallah. Appreciative of her full recovery, Rozana's mother, Maysa, relates: "When we arrived at the checkpoint, I told the soldiers that Rozana must go to Hadassah Hospital. Everyone knows that while there is conflict between Israel and Palestine, none of that matters at Hadassah. I wanted the best for my daughter and what Hadassah achieved for her is a miracle, a miracle of life. If it hadn't been for them, I don't think she would have survived."
In the message she sent for presentation at the media conference, Maysa noted: "I promise you that Rosana will carry your humanitarian message of peace to all the world." She noted too: "The doctors at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem are symbols of love, life, and humanity."
Ron Finkel, President of Hadassah Australia, explains that this unique partnership will "deal with the immediate health needs of Palestinian children while training Palestinian health workers who will return to Gaza and the West Bank to build the capacity of their own health systems for the future."
The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Most Reverend Doctor Philip Freier, President of Anglican Overseas Aid, notes that the Anglican Church has a long history of supporting health care throughout the world as a demonstration of practical love to whoever is in need, including Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. In fact, "between 1948 and 1964," he reports, "Hadassah Hospital operated out of the old Anglican Hospice buildings in Jerusalem."
How Project Rozana Began
In 2011, Hadassah Australia, with funding from a generous Melbourne donor, sponsored a three-month training program for eight Palestinian psychologists at Hadassah Hospital.
Out of that initiative a two-year certification program for Palestinian psychologists was developed. While Hadassah Australia donors wanted to fund the project, Hadassah Australia was not able to provide a favorable vehicle through which people could donate and receive a tax deduction. Mr. Finkel decided to approach some of the major organizations involved in Overseas aid in the Middle East.
It was suggested to Mr. Finkel that he meet with Izzat Abdulhadir, the Representative of the Palestinian Authority in Australia. The two met in March 2012 and Mr. Abdulhadir expressed interest and requested a proposal. Things progressed and Mr. Abdulhadir identified an overseas aid agency that was receptive to collaborating with Hadassah Australia—Anglican Overseas Aid (the overseas aid arm of the Anglican Church in Australia) and confirmed that he had sent the proposal for the approval of the Palestinian Authority.
In late September 2012, with the full support of the Anglican Overseas Aid Board and President Dr. Freier, an agreement was signed by Hadassah Medical Center, Anglican Overseas Aid, and Hadassah Australia.
Project Rozana is believed to be the first initiative whereby Australians will be able to make fully tax deductible donations to an overseas aid program whose beneficiaries are Palestinian, the funds are deployed exclusively in Israel at an Israeli institution, and the fundraising is done jointly by an Anglican association and a national Jewish organization.
As Mr. Finkel expressed at the media conference: "Ours is an emerging relationship, but it is one that is clearly based on shared values and a keen desire to make a difference."