With all of the bad news coming out of Israel/Palestine, I’ve realized this past week how easy it is to ignore how much good work is being done. That’s probably because ACP’s partners in East Jerusalem rarely make news, restoring vision for the blind, caring for the neurologically impaired, teaching teenagers about other cultures through the use of technology.
This past Tuesday, I met with David Dahlan at St. John’s Eye Hospital, home to the most advanced and most comprehensive eye care in all of Palestine. I saw men, women and children receiving routine eye exams, as well as several children recovering from corrective surgery. The hospital was spotless and organized, one child filing into the pediatric clinic after another. As Mr. Dahlan explained, the hospital provides services to everyone, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, and it prides itself on its superior quality of care.
My next stop on Wednesday was the Four Homes of Mercy in Bethany, which provides round-the-clock care to 74 neurologically impaired Palestinians, including 22 children. In addition to nursing care, the Four Homes provides regular vocational training, occapational and physiotherapy, as well as full-time medical care. To see the nurses in action was humbling, to say the least: each resident requires 24/7 care, as they are all wheelchair-bound and require assistance to eat, dress and use the bathroom. The Board of Directors explained that most residents come as early as age four, and stay for their entire lives. Since most Palestinian families do not have the means to care for the severely disabled, the Four Homes of Mercy truly becomes their life-long home.
Today, I met with Rami Nassir Edin, the executive director of PalVision, a youth-centered organization in East Jerusalem that manages ACP’s beneficiary, the Mediterranean Youth Technology Club (MyTecC). MyTecC not only provides 31 weeks of computer training to its participants in Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Yemen and Morocco, but also encourages its students to learn from each other about their different cultures. I had the pleasure of speaking to two recent female graduates, Huda (age 14) and Nancy (age 17), who told me how the program had boosted their self-esteem, helped them practice speaking English, and improved their technological skills–which Huda explained was usually a boys’ domain.
These organizations all provide important services, but they also have another thing in common: a dire need for financial support. As St John’s director told me, “we’re always in the red” because the hospital never turns anyone away. Residents of the Four Homes, meanwhile, simply don’t have anywhere else to go, which leaves the staff scrambling for funds to care for them. The nurses routinely receive their salaries weeks or even months overdue. Although MyTecC has thrived for five years, Mr. Edin, who works at PalVision as a volunteer, does not know whether he will have sufficient funding to cover the costs for the next class, which is scheduled to start in October. The need for funding initially overwhelmed me, but as Mr. Edin said, “every donation matters.”
This is why I’m proud to be a part of American Charities for Palestine. Seeing our beneficiaries in action has made me realize the huge difference each donation can make, no matter how small.
-Elizabeth Arend, ACP Executive Director