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MDF Instruments Crafting Wellness Winner, Alex Casarez, Serves in Palestine

MDF Instruments Crafting Wellness Winner, Alex Casarez, Serves in Palestine
February 26, 2016 No comments

Alex Casarez, one of two Crafting Wellness video contest winners, received a roundtrip flight to any medical mission of his choice. Along with his MDF Instruments sponsored flight, he received equipment to donate to the clinic of his choice. Alex chose to serve at the Nuran Charitable Organization in Palestine. This is his story:

During my time in the West Bank of Palestine and Eastern Jerusalem I gained a new perspective on the relationship between the Israeli government and the people of Palestine as well as the healthcare needs of Palestinians. In Eastern Jerusalem, there is a stark difference between Palestinian and Israeli neighborhoods despite the fact that all individuals living in Israel pay the same taxes to the Israeli government. Israeli neighborhoods located in East Jerusalem have quality paved roads with sidewalks, are filled with well-constructed homes, are laid out under the watchful eye of urban planners and are often gated. This is in stark contrast with Palestinian neighborhoods in Israel which have the appearance of a third world country.

The roads are dirt, poorly maintained and can be treacherous to drive. Trash is a significant problem in Palestinian neighborhoods. There is inadequate services to remove the trash, so it is common to see trash strewn everywhere and overflowing dumpsters. It has become common for some Palestinians to burn their trash for removal and it is not uncommon to drive past smoldering dumpsters. Palestinian neighborhoods and roads are not well planned and as has made it a difficult and slow process to drive short distances. It was extremely frustrating to me when I learned that despite holding Israeli citizenship, paying Israeli taxes and living in Israel, these Palestinians do not have reasonable access to Israeli emergency services. Israeli ambulances either do not respond to calls for emergency medical help to Palestinian neighborhoods or will not respond until well over an hour. This is simply unacceptable.

Israeli ambulances either do not respond to calls for emergency medical help to Palestinian neighborhoods or will not respond until well over an hour.

In response to this need for rapid response medical care, the Nuran Charitable Organization was created. Nuran is a volunteer based emergency response medical team serving all Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. They have created a team of volunteers from a large variety of backgrounds and career paths as well as a network of communication which allows them to respond a call with remarkable efficiency. Despite their strictly humanitarian goal of providing healthcare to Israeli Palestinians, the Nuran Ambulances have come under fire from the Israeli military. A few months prior to my arrival, a Nuran ambulance was shot at by Israeli military personnel injuring several volunteers. The window was completely shot out of the ambulance. In one of my pictures, the window can be seen covered in blue cellophane:

Alex Casarez in an ambulance where the left window has been covered with blue cellophane to cover the shot out window.

Funding issues plague Nuran as they are currently faced with the barrier of attempting to replace an ambulance which will be forced out of commission due to the age of the vehicle per compliance with Israeli law. Nuran does not receive any financial assistance from the Israeli government and operates solely on donations.

In the West Bank of Palestine there is a large variety of healthcare needs facing the populous. Palestinians smoke too much, have a lower access to healthy foods, and are faced with widespread poverty which causes high amounts of stress. Many of the barriers imposed by the Israeli government on the West Bank of Palestine have direct consequences on the well-being of Palestinians. The West Bank of Palestine is divided into three sections by the Israeli government and travel by Palestinians between the three different sections is strictly regulated. Palestinians who live in Israel have highly restricted access to visiting their own country for visitation of family, holy sites or for leisure. Many Palestinians who lived in what is today Israel were put into refugee camps within the boarders of the West Bank where certain individuals are forced to remain by the Israeli government. Israel continues to push the boundaries of their control further into the West Bank through the development of Israel housing settlements. These settlements are built and established against the wishes of the Palestinians who live in the vicinity and without regard for the previous purpose of the land. Palestinians are not permitted to approach any of the settlements, and doing so is seen as an act of aggression for which the military will forcibly defend against. All of the Israeli settlements in Palestine are gated and guarded by military personnel.

There was a man who I met in a Palestinian refugee camp who previously owned an olive orchard. An Israeli settlement was roped off and built at the top of the hill of his orchard without his consent. Whenever he approached it he was shot at by the Israeli military. He was eventually detained for attempting to tend his orchard which bordered the newly built settlement and was placed in prison for several years. After his release, he was sent to a refugee camp and forced to live there in a small one bedroom apartment with his family. The perpetual expansion of the Israeli settlements into Palestinian land as agreed upon in the 1965 armistice is a constant source of conflict between the two nations as well as the spark of countless conflicts. The overwhelming impression I left Palestine and Israel with is that the Israeli government has implemented numerous laws and policies which cause disenfranchisement of the Palestinians by erecting barriers to Palestinian freedoms. These were just a few of the many instances and observations from my travels. Personally, I have gained a huge amount of interest in macro level health and social issues which must be addressed to promote the health of the human race.

All opinions expressed by Alex Casarez are the opinions of the individual and are not necessarily the views of MDF Instruments. To read more about MDF Instruments statement of opinion, politics, and faith please read:

To support Alex and the Nuran Charitable Organization please see his GoFundMe site:

Learn more about the Nuran Assocation:

To learn about how MDF Instruments can serve your next medical mission, click here.

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