When Tim Rittman joined a project to help in Palestinian refugee camps, he found that Israelis and Arabs can work together. The project was never completed, but, he wonders, did they really fail?
It was in Malta, March 2001, that I first met Hisham from Egypt. That is where the Palestine refugee project started. I was a first year at my first IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Student Associations) meeting; it was amazing to meet medical students from all over the world deeply committed to doing something to change the world for the better. Idealistic? Definitely.
I realised that it was better to be idealistic, trying to do something useful, than to be pragmatic and end up doing nothing. Hisham was passionate when he talked about building an association of Arab medical students and the problems facing refugee camps in Palestine. What impressed me the most was that he desperately tried to be apolitical. He did not blame Israel; he did not blame the Palestinians; he simply wanted to improve the poor health and lack of education resulting from the refugees' living conditions.