On one of the rabbinic e-mail lists to which I belong, I read about a project in Israel which brings me hope. It's called MigrantHealth:IL. Here's how they describe the work they're doing:
The Need, explained:
In May, a young Eritrean refugee living in Tel Aviv contracted chicken pox. In most of Israel, or the Western world, this would not be a big deal; if the case gets complicated you go to the doctor, she gives you medicine and the infection clears in a few days.
This mother did not know where to go for help. She was not aware of the free medical care available for refugees who are not covered in the Israeli socialized healthcare system. Because of this, she remained at home and the simple case of chicken pox transformed into a deadly pneumonia.
MigrantHealth:IL addresses the disparity between available health care resources and the Israeli migrant community—our health outreach program prevents scenarios as the one above, that typify the disconnect between resources and needs.
In collaboration with the Tel Aviv Refugee Clinic, we will employ nurses from within the migrant community to improve the health of this population. These nurses are uniquely qualified for working in the migrant community as they are multilingual, highly trained in their home countries, eager to work, and already have their fingers on the ‘pulse’ of their community.
If they can raise $15,000, they'll be able to hire three part-time nurses for one year. (The more money they raise, the more nurses they can hire.) If they can make it through this first year, they expect support from the Israeli Ministry of Health and local hospitals in year two.
Their website is here: MigrantHealth:IL. On that website you can see a short video about the project -- or, if you're reading this in a format which supports embedded video, you can watch the video here:
Short MigrantHealth:IL video, from YouTube.
There are some 80,000 migrants in Israel. (The African Refugee Development Center says there are roughly 60,000 African refugees there, most from Eritrea and Sudan.) This project seeks to tend to the health needs of the migrant community, and to employ members of that community in the process. There are currently some Israeli nurses working with African migrants in Israel, but there are difficulties arising from language barriers; most of the migrants are Eritrean. MigrantHealth will provide jobs for Eritrean nurses, and will provide for the community a pool of nurses who not only speak their language but understand their community context.
This is the brainchild of Doctor Jonah Mink, the son of Cantor Susan Wehle (may her memory be a blessing.) Susan was a part of the Jewish Renewal community, and while I didn't know her personally, I know that she was beloved to many of my friends and colleagues.
Dr. Mink received his MD from the Ben Gurion University School of International Medicine in Beersheva. He's already set up an electronic medical records system for the migrant community at the Tel Aviv Refugee Clinic clinic, which earlier this summer had served more than 7,000 patients and was overwhelmed with requests for care. (That's via the article ROI's 21st Century Vision; Dr. Mink is part of the ROI community, "connect[ing] dynamic Jewish leaders from around the globe, enabling them to turn their passion into action by creating transformative work for the Jewish world and beyond.")
MigrantHealth:IL is a crowdfunded project; they need to raise $15,000 over the next nine days in order to move forward. I just made a donation. There's special merit in giving tzedakah before Shabbat. My teachers teach, and I believe, that when we open our hands to bestow abundance on others, we open cosmic channels for God to bestow abundance on us. If you're able to give a little something, I hope that you will do so. This is so important and necessary -- not just because it acts as a corrective to the shameful violence against African migrants in Tel Aviv this summer (see my May 2012 post For you were strangers in the land of Egypt) but because this is a community of people in desperate need, and this is an easy way to help from afar.
Kol hakavod (props/honor) to the creators of this project. May it flourish and provide limitless assistance and blessing to those in need.