Compassion overcomes conflict
This article is sponsored by Uniting, the Board of the NSW and ACT Synod of the Uniting Church responsible for the work of community services, chaplaincy and social justice advocacy.
Every day Israeli volunteers drive Palestinians in need of medical assistance from checkpoints on the border of Gaza and the West Bank to hospitals throughout Israel.
At present, there are more than 1,000 volunteers who believe that a simple act of humanity can create a seismic shift in relationships between these two communities. Seven years ago, there was only one such volunteer.
Yuval Roth lost his brother to an act of terrorism. His answer was to honour his brother’s memory, rather than seek revenge for his death. So he created Road to Recovery, a non-profit organisation of volunteers. Their task is to take Palestinians, mostly the young, whose critical or chronic medical conditions can’t be met by the Palestinian Authority’s medical services, to Israeli hospitals for treatment.
With the appointment earlier this year of a full-time coordinator and an assistant in the West Bank, Road to Recovery will not only make the transfers from Palestinian homes more efficient, but it will encourage Palestinians to volunteer as drivers for the organisation.
In 2016, Road to Recovery was adopted by Project Rozana. This project was created by Hadassah Australia in 2013. Its aim is to upskill Palestinian medical staff in Israeli hospitals before they return to build the health capacity of their communities. It also provides funding to keep critically ill Palestinian children in Israeli hospitals when funding from the Palestinian Authority has been exhausted. Recently, Project Rozana began providing support for Syrian children by transferring them to the Ziv Medial Centre in northern Israel.
Since Yuval Roth channelled his profound distress into a life-affirming initiative, he has witnessed a remarkable outcome few thought possible in this conflicted region. Thousands of Israelis and Palestinians are spending time together on a road that was once considered impassable. Not all communicate directly because of language and not all are comfortable to engage fully, but the “other” is no longer the person to be feared.
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