The Australian Delegations primary purpose for visiting Israel is to meet this year’s AFL Peace Team, experience the culture and understand the journey to date. For some, this is their first time in Israel. For all, a place they know they will return.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you my thoughts of the journey so far and the amazing place that is Israel. Israel is not a country I had ever thought of visiting, but after being here for only 5 short days I couldn’t imagine not coming back. The people is what has touched me the most and in particular the work of the Peres Centre for Peace.
Yesterday (Sunday 19 June 2011), the delegation visited the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem (Palestine) where the Peres Centre runs a program that allows Palestinian doctors to train in Israeli hospitals rather than having to travel abroad; many of whom do this, do not return to Palestine to the de-tribute of the community. The Holy Family Hospital is dedicated to providing quality care for women, and infants, without regard for religion or national origins. We were able to experience this first hand when told that no woman is turned away, despite not being able to afford to pay the US150. “They pay what they can afford if they cannot pay the full amount, and if they are still not able to pay then we help them anyway”.
Possibly the most touching part for me was the program the hospital runs that sees a midwife and doctor travel each and every morning out into the local community providing free of charge maternity healthcare to under privileged communities, of which is the majority of Bethlehem.
The second part of the day saw the delegation travel to Be’er Sheva, home of the Australian Light Horse & the Peres Centre for Peace Cricket project. The cricket project brings together Israeli and Palestinian children to learn cricket. Separate from the AFL Peace Team which focuses on an older generation, it was wonderful to see the work the Peres Centre is doing at a grass root level.
Coming from Australia, exposure to this region for most of us is non-existent, aside from what we hear and read in the media. Most of which I have come to realise is such a small percentage of the reality. Being here has certainly opened my eyes and I look forward to sharing this journey with many when we arrive back in Australia later this week.
I am certainly inspired to do more…are you?