By Dalia Al Athamna
I have always been inspired by people that have been through hardships, lived through poverty and crisis and were able to rise on their feet; change themselves and make a positive impact in the world. We live in a world filled with heartbreaking stories, a world filled with unjust leaders and dying consciousness. A world where the strong walks over the weak and the weak are only drowning more and more in their weakness, loneliness and poverty.
Yet in the midst of all this chaos, we see these special, blessed individuals that are able to overtake obstacles, and are able to send a message of hope, love and peace all over the world despite of difficulties they have faced. These are the kind of individuals that we should honor and recognize and they are the kind of individuals that should be on top of our hierarchy of role models.
While walking through the bookstore last summer, I came across a book called ‘I shall not hate’. I am not going to lie, the first thing that caught my eye was ‘A Gaza doctor’s journey’. I immediately bought it and immediately started reading it. This book was a true inspiration from cover to cover. It was the kind of book that gave you goose bumps and made you wonder how on earth some people can be so strong and so resilient.
Doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian Obstetrician and Gyneacologist who specialized in infertility. He has worked in several regions of the world including Gaza and Israel. He was born and raised in Jabliyah refugee camp where he witnessed the transformation of this camp from tents into apartments and has witnessed much suffering, wars and poverty in this region.
Doctor Abuelaish describes the harsh and humiliating conditions that Palestinians face as he was one of the people that lived there and crossed the checkpoints countless times to get to work in Israel. Yet despite all this humiliation, he continued to use his profession to work in Israeli hospitals, to treat Israeli patients and build bonds with Israelis, which he believes is the only way to reach a peaceful resolution in the region.
After decades of service, during the 2008/2009, 22 days of war on Gaza, Israeli military launched shells on his apartment, where three of his daughters and his niece were shredded into pieces. One would think that after this horrific event this man would fall into anger, hate and despair, but no, he was able to turn this tragic event into yet another reason to fight for peace and love in the region.
Doctor Abuelaish has won numerous awards for peace and survivor-ship. In honor of his daughters he founded the daughters for life foundation, a foundation for advancing the health and education of young women in the Middle East. He is now an associate professor in global health at the University of Toronto, where he resides with his family. He is a man of faith, strong will and an ability to make a positive change and awareness in the world.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Doctor Abuelaish, where I was able to talk to him about his book and about Palestine. I was able to see pictures of his blessed family and talk to him about his journey to Canada. He is a very talented, knowledgeable and educated man and I am grateful to have met such an incredible and inspiring individual.