Jun 02, 2011 3:33 AM GMT
It's worth reading the whole thing.
Suad Ghouti was afraid to tell her neighbours.
Her sixth child, nine-month-old Abdel-Rahman, had a serious heart defect, and the family’s specialist in Gaza told her the only place the boy could receive the surgery he needed was in Israel.
In the religiously conservative and militant city of Rafah, Israel is regarded as the enemy. It’s where many of Hamas’s senior leaders were born and raised, and where even more extreme Salafi-Jihadists now challenge the Hamas leadership. For many there, putting your son’s life in the hands of “the Jews” was highly risky and politically inappropriate.
Even the Ghoutis, while insisting they are politically independent, have a Hamas flag hanging in their sitting room, and a sticker of late Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin,is stuck to the door of one of their children’s bedrooms. But their doctor had assured them that an Israeli non-governmental organization called Save a Child’s Heart would take good care of them.
SACH is a remarkable humanitarian organization that has performed heart surgeries on more than 2,600 children from around the region, and from some 37 countries or territories altogether – all at no cost to the patients or their families. Of the total number treated, 48 per cent of the children are Palestinian.
Last month, the 15 year-old organization was recommended for special consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, a major acknowledgment of the group’s hard-earned credibility. The status enables them to participate in various UN bodies and, more important to SACH, gives the group international stature – it’s no longer just a Jewish charity.
In the Palestinian territories and in neighbouring Arab countries, SACH operates on the ground through a Christian partner organization, Shevet Achim, that can work in places Israelis aren’t permitted and can help overcome the fear and distrust that many patient families might have.
That is how Mrs. Ghouti and her son find themselves in Edith Wolfson Medical Centre in this working-class community south of Tel Aviv, preparing for the baby’s surgery.