Here is an update regarding the Gaza hospital project.
As you know I just returned from Jerusalem where I was able get valuable information that will help us to move forward with our project.
I met with the Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani. We met at his office and spoke for over an hour. He then introduced me to his medical coordniator, Dr. Hissham Nassar who is a cardiologist at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem and he and I sat a spoke as well.
Here are a few things for us to know in general:
Al Ahli hospital is centrally located an serves ALL communities within Gaza, which includes 1.4 million people, including 800,000 children. It has been in operation since 1882 and it belongs to the Anglican Church under the control of the church office in Jerusalem. They accept everyone and they take orders from no one group. The salaries are paid by the church.
In Gaza there is NO diagnostic center, no MRI machines no CAT scanners and have only now been able to bring in a Mammography for diagnosing breast cancer – remember we are taking about a population of 1.4 million people.
Now the Ahli Hospital and the church are working on building a regional diagnostic center that they estimate will cost about $5 million. An MRI machine costs around $2 million. According to Dr. Nassar their preference is to get a new machine and not a used one as we had previously considered because the savings in money is outweighed by the problems that are encountered if the machine is not new.
Once we have the money we can talk to the hospital and see what specifically mets their needs in terms of the MRI machine we purchase. I am told that typically the company from whom we buy the machine (GE for example) will deliver.
While in Jerusalem I received an email from Rotary Past District Governor Yusef Srouji from Nazareth. He was working on a matching grant for a project to Palestine. He was notified by Rotary Internationa that Palestine no longer qualifies for matching grants. I suspected this would happen eventually and therefore did not want to take that route with our current project. Yusef wrote to RI several times and he mentioned the successful projects of which he had been a part like our Wheelchairs project, that went to help the people in the West Bank and/or Gaza but it seems this is a final verdict for now.
The Bishop also told me of the ill treatment he had received by the Israeli airport security upon his embarking on a trip to the Anglican convention in LA this summer. He mentioned that he had told no one of the disgraceful manner in which he was treated and I think it is important to note this because even though he is a humble man, he is a Bishop and he represent the Anglican Church in Jerusalem and across the middle east and should be afforded the courtesy he and his position deserve.
As most of you know, the RC Escondido has committed $10K to the Gaza hospital project and Nader and I are going to apply for grants through other organizations as well. We will need as much help as possible so please talk to your clubs, your churches etc., and seek out ways for us to do this.
While in Jerusalem and Ramallah I was asked what I thought of the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. In the short time I am pessimistic, in the long run optimistic. When I say long run I mean 5-10 years. This project is exactly the kind of thing that can get people moving. Once more people are exposed to the information and to the possibilities it will have a positive ripple effect.
Thank you all for your support,