I would like to tell you about my experiences with two kids who are assisted by volunteer drivers in Humans without Borders.
The first time I met Mahmud, last August, he was sprawled on the curb just beyond the ramp leading from the “300” checkpoint . He was simply too weak to stand up. His mother stood by his side crying. Mahmud has leukemia.
I drove them to the Pediatric building at Hadassah Ein Karem and made certain that one of the security people helped them get to the Pediatric Oncology ward. I was quite certain that Mahmud would not last the day.
Mahmud is a tough kid and appears to be doing just fine. The therapy seems to be working.
At 15, he is tall and lanky and sort of unwinds when he starts moving. Under other circumstance he would probably be dribbling a basketball at the local court. Unfortunately, Mahmud is both very sick and from Hebron. And that is not a great combination.
I am not really certain just what his situation is as, when we meet, he always says he is doing well and it is great to see me.
The first time I came in contact with Sara was when I picked her up at the Alyn-Orthopedic Hospital. She spends weeks at a time there with her faithful aunt who never says much more than “hello” and “thank you for helping us”. She does not feel very comfortable with men in general and sacrifices a lot of religious principles for the benefit of her niece.
Sara had major surgery in her left leg to remove a cancerous growth and at Alyn she is undergoing intensive rehabilitation.
Sara uses a walker and she cannot possibly manipulate the ramp going up to the “300” checkpoint so I pick her up in the area intended for Palestinian drivers and later meet her father in Beit Jala, which is quite close to their home in Bethlehem.
In my fractured Arabic I asked Sara if she goes to school. She gave me a quick smile and said she studies chemotherapy in Hadassah and orthopedic surgery in Alyn. Sarah is 15 years old. It took me a while to figure out that the colorful wool hat she wore is not out of Moslem principles but to cover her bald head.
A few weeks ago I picked up the two kids – Sara and Mahmud – at the checkpoint and dropped them off at Alyn and Hadassah. Sara’s aunt and Mahmud’s mother had a lively chat about contending with the occupation and the cost of getting from Hebron to the checkpoint and other trivial stuff. The children were too shy to say very much to each other.
Each volunteer in Humans without Borders does whatever he does and his rewards are a hundred times more than whatever time or gasoline goes into the effort.