ROAD TO RECOVERY GOES WEST BANK
The Road to Recovery model developed in 2010 by its founder, Yuval Roth, always envisaged a greater role for Palestinians in the transporting of patients to Israel hospitals and health care centres. Until now, the vast majority of volunteer drivers are Israeli. This is around 1,000 at last count, who regularly transport Palestinian patients from checkpoints on the border of Gaza and the West Bank. For many Palestinian families, this is the only way they can receive much-needed healthcare in Israel.
The cost of a taxi would otherwise make the trip prohibitive or impossible, especially for patients with a chronic illness where repeat hospital visits are necessary.
In some cases, a trip can be the equal of a day’s wage.
Now, funding has been secured to build a cohort of Palestinian volunteers in the West Bank who can transport patients from their homes to the border crossing where they transfer to Israeli volunteers.
With US$80,000 committed in the last few weeks, Road to Recovery is able to appoint a full-time West Bank coordinator together with a part-time assistant. The funds will cover this commitment for 18 months while further resources are secured.
The person chosen for this position is already well-known for his tireless efforts as the volunteer coordinator. Naeem Al Bayda is pictured above with one of his younger clients. He has juggled his time between Road to Recovery and paid work in construction, but the demands on his time have proven to be too much. Something had to give.
Ron Finkel AM, Chair of Project Rozana says…
To have lost Naeem would have been catastrophic for the Palestinian patients. They know and trust him, and rely on him to provide the link with volunteer drivers on the Israel side.
Naeem is the patients’ lifeline and he is totally committed to their welfare and to the belief that peace between Israelis and Palestinians through health is absolutely achievable.
The money raised through Project Rozana’s US affiliate will allow Naeem and his assistant to operate from the well-regarded Palestinian not-for-profit, Green Land Society for Health Development (GLSHD), which is based in Hebron.
GLSHD is dedicated to improving health services in the Palestinian Territories through education, awareness, clinical research and the establishment of health and environmental services. It has more than 350 volunteers who will provide an important source of drivers for Road to Recovery.
Mr Finkel says that with a full-time paid coordinator in position, Road to Recovery will have the resources to build awareness among Palestinians about the need for volunteer drivers in the West Bank and to the availability of the Road to Recovery service.
Road to Recovery has grown steadily since 2010, and it has increased more than 35% from 2015 to 2016. In 2016 alone, over 13,000 trips were conducted, helping more than 1,000 Palestinian patients and their relatives, covering more than 2.5 million kilometres and logging in over 50,000 hours of intense contact between Israelis and Palestinians.
Here is Naeem with more of his clients and a parent.