Monday, March 7, 2011

A Travellog....... Humans Without Borders

A few words (and then a request) about a group of devoted volunteers and about a lively jovial mother-angel who gave them all a jump-start:

I first met G'amilla a few years ago during one of my stints to a burnt out olive grove belonging to a family in the village of Kafar Salam near Shchem (Nablus). It was evident that settlers from a nearby Jewish settlement had destroyed these trees. G'amilla had recently upgraded her humanitarian activities among Palestinians in the West Bank with the creation of the Olive Tree Movement, a volunteer organization dedicated to protecting Palestinian farmers from the hostility of Jewish settlers, running summer camps with Israeli volunteers for Palestinian children, and aiding Palestinian parents to bring their sick children to Hospitals in Israel.

Eventually G'amilla evolved her work into an NGO called Humans Without Borders (HWB). "HWB was formed to assist Palestinian children who require advanced medical care that is not available under the health care system of the Palestinian Authority. Each week about 50 children and members of their families are conveyed by volunteer drivers to and from border crossing points to hospitals in Israel. In the hospitals, volunteers assist in communicating between staff and parents and make visits to children during extended periods of hospitalization. HWB also runs summer camps where Palestinian children enjoy a week of fun and creative activities. Day trips to the sea and the zoo are also organized for the families of the children under treatment (including siblings). Such events – which may seem insignificant in the midst of the awful happenings taking place in the Middle East conflict – are terribly relevant for mothers who, to mention just one example, may spend three days each week in a dialysis ward."

(G'amilla's activities remind me, of course, of work done by other volunteer-angels. Example: When I first met Buma Inbar a number of years ago it was also in one of the olive groves near Nablus. That was during the day. At night Buma was driving around to Hotels and restaurants collecting left-over food from the evening's dinner. He would then bring the food to Palestinian parents who were sitting by their very ailing children in our Israeli Hospitals. There are more Israelis like G'amilla and Buma…..but not a multitude……too few.)

Lately, for health reasons, I found myself no longer able to join those volunteers who help protect Palestinian farmers from the hostilities of our Jewish settlers in the West Bank. I was also unable to join the magnificent work of "Machsom-Watch", an NGO of Israeli women who station themselves at Army checkpoints in the West Bank to view and report possible inhumane behavior towards Palestinians crossing at these checkpoints. It's an NGO "manned" by women only. (I was not up to a sex change.). But I was able (health was not a problem) to join those volunteers who regularly drive Palestinian children from border checkpoints to Israeli hospitals. This also brought me to investigate a bit more closely the volunteer needs of G'milla's Humans Without Borders.

Humans Without Borders is financially a shoestring outfit. G'amilla and other volunteers who make the contacts between Palestinian families and Israeli assistance all work out of their homes. Volunteers use their own cars to drive parent with child to Israeli hospitals. Many of the same volunteers also contribute out of pocket for administrative costs. It turns out that it isn't enough and HWB is in desparate need of more help. What for? order to:
….Help meet administrative costs such as telephone bills and office supplies;
….Compensate some of the volunteers for direct expenses (such as petrol);
….Support parents who must stay over with their chronically ill children in Israeli hospitals;
….Support and expand summer camp activities for children in West Bank villages.

HWB is attempting a two-pronged adventure within our Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
1. (First and foremost) Humanitarian aid to our neighbors.
2. Showing some Palestinians that we Israelis are human.

O.K. if any of this means something to you, visit the website for Humans Without Borders:

If you got this far, perhaps you'll also check out the DONATE page in the website. (plastic or PayPal will do). Here I don't know what to suggest. You're on your own. (I know…..I know. I've never before promoted donations thru my blog…….call me inconsistent.)

I am evidently the northern most volunteer driving parent and child to Rambam Hospital in Haifa. I start the car before 05:30 in the morn and I have about four hours of driving before landing back home. A friend asked me "How can you do that often?". I didn't understand the question. I answered (as others have before me) "How can I not?".