Group to fund treatment of Palestinian kids at Hadassah Hospital

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A landmark Australian initiative to help treat critically ill Palestinian children was launched by a Jewish and a Christian organization.

Project Rozana – a collaboration of Hadassah Australia, Anglican Overseas Aid and Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem – aims to raise funds in Australia to help treat sick Palestinian kids and train Palestinian doctors and psychologists at one of Israel’s leading hospitals. The initiative was announced on Friday.

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It is named after Rozana Ghannam, a five-year-old Palestinian from a village near Ramallah who was saved by Hadassah doctors after she fell from the window of her ninth-floor apartment last year.

Her mother, Maysa Abu Ghannam said in a speech read at the launch in Melbourne that Hadassah’s doctors “gave my daughter back to life.” She added: “Rozana is now a miracle of life, a Palestinian girl who returned to life at the hands of doctors – Jews and Arabs.”

The initiative is the brainchild of Hadassah Australia President Ron Finkel, whose son was born at Hadassah in 1981.

He said he believes it is the first time that Australians will be able to make tax-deductible donations to an overseas aid program where the fundraising is done jointly by a Christian and Jewish national organization and in which the funds are deployed exclusively in Israel for the benefit of Palestinians.

Finkel said he hopes to raise in excess of $500,000 a year to help treat Palestinian children in the pediatric intensive care unit at Hadassah, to train Palestinian doctors from the West Bank and Gaza at Hadassah, and to train Palestinian psychologists and trauma counselors at Hadassah.

“All those trained will return to the West Bank and Gaza to build the capacity of the Palestinian healthcare system,” Finkel said. “This is not welfare – it’s not a hand out but a hand up.”