A UNIQUE multi-faith partnership, set to improve the treatment of critically ill Palestinian children, was launched in Melbourne last Friday.
An Australian initiative, Project Rozana is a collaboration between Anglican Overseas Aid, a relief and development agency of the Anglican Church in Australia, Hadassah Australia and Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, and will provide paediatric intensive care to gravely ill Palestinian children.
It is named in honour of Rozana Sawalhi, a five-year-old Palestinian girl from a village near Ramallah who was saved by Hadassah doctors after falling from the window of her ninth-floor apartment last year.
Through funds raised in Australia, Project Rozana will also train Palestinian doctors from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in specialisations including mental health. The doctors, psychologists and counsellors will return to the West Bank and Gaza to help develop the Palestinian health-care system.
Rozana’s mother Maysa Abu Ghannam insisted that her daughter be taken to Hadassah Hospital, which is acknowledged for providing the best paediatric intensive care in the Middle East. “Everyone knows that while there is conflict between Israel and Palestine, none of that matters at Hadassah,” Abu Ghannam said. “At Hadassah you are a human being, that’s all. You are a person without politics, without religion, without colour.”
Rozana has now fully recovered and is attending school thanks to the life-saving treatment at Hadassah. “She is a miracle of life,” Abu Ghannam told The AJN. “She is a bridge between Palestine and Israel now.”
The initiative was the brainchild of Hadassah Australia Foundation president Ron Finkel. “Inclusion, outreach and a commitment to delivering world’s best practice in medicine is embedded in the DNA of this iconic institution, which has been serving the needs of the people of Jerusalem and the surrounding region for over 100 years,” he said.
President of Anglican Overseas Aid Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Philip Freier also addressed the launch, opining that the program will have “lasting benefits for generations”.
Finkel credited the involvement of Izzat Abdulhadi, representative of the Palestinian Authority in Australia, who brought Anglican Overseas Aid and Hadassah together for this project.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Minister of Health Dr Hani Abdeen has expressed his appreciation. “My hope is that this spirit of human empathy, warm feeling and healing will take hold in our turbulent part of the world,” he wrote to Finkel.
For more information, go to www.projectrozana.org.
Hadassah Australia Foundation president Ron Finkel speaking at the launch of Project Rozana (Photo: Peter Haskin).