A Diploma in Devotion

For over a year, the stream of severely wounded Syrian casualties arriving at the Ziv Medical Center in Zefat, Israel, has been constant. Over 250 casualties have already been treated and 10 still remain hospitalized. They receive the most advanced medical treatment, and yet, Mr. Yaniv Ben Shoshan, Head of Ziv's Social Services has identified that the physical treatment is not sufficient.

Three months ago, the humanitarian effort to help the casualties received positive reinforcement in the form of Arab students from the Social Work Departments at the Zefat and the Tel Hai Academic Colleges. Once a week they volunteer to visit the casualties, speak to them in their own language, offer support and ease their process of recuperation. The students are supervised by Fares, the hospital's Arabic speaking social worker who has coordinated this project from its conception. "The project is run by a group of wonderful students, who have an exceptional determination to grapple with complex human issues" says Dr. Michal Finkelshtein, a world renowned expert in trauma situations and a lecturer at the College in Zefat. "These students offer immediate assistance to the casualties who have survived extremely difficult war situations, regardless of their religion, race, gender or nationality".

One of the students, Hadil Majna (24), met an 8 year old Syrian girl hospitalized in the Orthopedic Department with a severe injury to her leg. The child was accompanied by her mother. "What motivates me is the humanitarian aid to these injured people, it does not matter to me who they are, says Majna. "At first the girl refused to speak to me and it appeared that her reluctance stemmed from her distrust. She was afraid and drew away from me every time I tried to connect with her. Slowly the ice broke and she started to tell me her story, she was injured by a shell that exploded close to her. With each meeting, I learned more about the atrocities facing the citizens of Syria".

Napad Uda (24), also a student participating in the project, talks about similar experiences. "A wounded Syrian told me that he believes in fate, despite the difficulty in dealing with his handicap. I also believe in fate. We talk a lot and this is one of the ways in which I can assist him to reduce his stress".  Uda adds: "One of the difficulties of the project is the separation from the wounded – because both sides know what horrors they will be returning to following their convalescence in Israel."