Diana Shehade-Nama, Wheels of Hope Program Director, shares her experience accompanying the Project Rozana fixed busline.
"I woke up at 5am today to be able to get my things and the kids’ things in order before I leave. I’m exhausted but I feel silly saying I’m exhausted when a 70-year-old man from Gaza told me he’s been up since the morning prayer, a little before 5am, and ever since on the road from his house to multiple stations to get to the Erez crossing on the border between Gaza and Israel.
Once the old man arrived at Qalandia checkpoint, which is the entry point to Ramallah city from Israel, he was checked for 2 hours by Israeli soldiers, including a body search because of the 2 heart stents he has. He’s accompanying his daughter-in-law who’s a cancer patient. He is the only one allowed by the IDF to accompany her, not her husband, not even her mother or sister. He might collapse from standing in line, walking that long bridge after Qalandia or on the way back, but he is all she has. He told me he hasn’t even had the chance to get breakfast.
Another woman, a 75-year-old with a broken arm, accompanies her sister who is a 70-year-old cancer patient. She had to take off the cast because they wouldn’t let her through with it. They even removed the cloth bandage she had on when she went through the checkpoint.
The average daily wage for 12 hours of work in Gaza is 20 nis! Paying a 200 nis ($60USD) to be able to go back home from the hospitals beyond the Gazan border is worth 5 days’ pay.
Patients said they are thankful for the initiative, but we are the ones who had the honor to be able to help, and we will continue to do so despite the obstacles ahead of us and them. The Wheels of Hope program should be a priority to everyone. We have to draw more attention to it, expand and contribute more." -- Diana Shehade
Diana Shehade (middle), Wheels of Hope Program Director
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