please find below an article from Haaretz called An Organic Bond by veteran Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy on IWPS & ISM volunteer Anna Weekes-Majavu and Lina Taamallah, the young Palestinian girl Anna donated a kidney too.
Anna and I have never met or spoken, but Anna is the person who was responsible for me going to Palestine for the first time and for me becoming active with the International Women's Peace Service (IWPS). IWPS was formed in 2001 at the height of the second Palestinian Intifada and in the immediate years that followed, IWPS issued a number of calls for women from around the world to join them on the ground in Palestine.
Anna, a South African activist with IWPS sent the call to activists here in Australia who had links with the anti-apartheid and South African struggle and it was through them that I came to hear about IWPS and the call for women to join them in Palestine.
The trip was to have a profound effect on me and to change my life in many ways. Before going to Palestine, I had already been active in Palestine solidarity work and I had a good understanding of the historical struggle, but as many activists has said - nothing can prepare you fully for what you experience and see on the ground.
Even though I have never had the opportunity to tell her so myself, I have always been grateful to Anna for being instrumental in helping get me to Palestine and introducing me to the amazing women of IWPS.
Anna and Lina's story, as Gideon Levy notes, is one which which has the ability to make us happy but still leave a bitter taste in our mouths. It also reveals the amazing commitment and dedication of so many Palestinian, Israeli and international activists that goes much further than just the political struggle which is shared together.
In the article, Anna down plays what she did for Lina saying: "It was nothing. The body does not need two kidneys. I did not do anything special. I don't think it was a noble act, as you said. I know the family and I have known Lina since she was born. I know the ordeals the family endured when they had to go through the hills by foot to get her to the hospital during the period of the curfew. It was only logical for me to donate a kidney for her. That was my duty. I just worry that Lina's kidney will function and that no problems will arise in another few years."
What is amazing about Anna's attitude is that it is shared by so many of the international activists I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with. It is also an attitude shared by many Israeli activists who each week put their bodies on the line to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. And it also is a common attitude among so many of the Palestinian activists I have worked with and meet in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The willingness to stand up for not only what you believe in but also to stand in solidarity with your fellow human beings, not only in political struggle but also in life and share their fate - is in my experience - a common currency among those who fight for human rights, not only in Palestine but around the world. As Che Guevara explained in 1967 in his message to the Tricontinental, solidarity "is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory". Anna and Lina's story is just one of the many ways this has been put into practice.
in solidarity, Kim
An organic bond
By Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 16 September 2011
Around this time, he met Anna Weekes (whose father is Jewish ), who later went by the name Majavu, from Cape Town; she was born in 1973. They met at a summer camp of Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists in the West Bank. Anna stayed with the family after the camp disbanded and became a good friend. She knew Lina almost from the day of the girl's birth. After a time, Anna was put on the Israeli authorities' blacklist and deported due to her pro-Palestinian activity in the West Bank; she was in Britain at the time Lina fell ill. Fareed informed her about the development by e-mail, and she replied immediately that she would donate a kidney.
"I didn't believe it. I thought she only wanted to express solidarity and friendship, and that the offer was meant just to make me happy," Fareed says. He thanked Anna politely and added that at that point, he and his wife were then undergoing tests to see if they could be donors. Two months later, Fareed wrote to Anna that both they were incompatible, and Anna repeated her offer and emphasized that she was perfectly serious.
Anna then suggested that the transplant be done in Britain, however, under British law, organs must be donated by a member of the family. She decided to come to Israel for a compatibility check, and entered using a different passport which she carried legally. She underwent the examination in a private hospital in Nablus, in the meantime taking part in demonstrations against the separation fence in Bil'in and Budrus - and was again deported. She was found to be compatible.
"Now we had a compatible donor but one who could not enter the country," Fareed recalls, going on to describe the family's ordeal to save his daughter's life: They considered having the operation done in South Africa, Egypt, Jordan or Pakistan, but discovered that in all these countries the donor had to be from the family. They found that the most suitable place for the transplant was Israel, where organs can be donated by people who are not family members after a professional committee considers the motives for the donation.
A few devoted friends of Fareed's - Israeli peace activists who had heard about Lina's illness - rallied to the cause. "We now faced two battles," Fareed explains, "the battle to get Anna into the country and the battle to raise $40,000 to pay for the transplant." They had to choose between Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva and Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem, Jerusalem. With the help of local friends, they chose the latter, which offered to do the operation at a discount. After lobbying, the Palestinian Authority agreed to cover half the cost of the transplant, the Peres Center for Peace also contributed and the rest was obtained through private donations. All that remained was to bring in Anna.
Attorney Gabi Lasky, who specializes in human rights cases, conducted negotiations with the Interior Ministry for Anna to be allowed to enter the country because of the special humanitarian situation. The authorities finally relented - on condition that Anna go directly from the airport to the hospital, have the kidney harvested and then return directly to the airport. Fareed himself was (and still is ) barred from entering Israel, and Lina's mother took her for the preliminary tests at the hospital alone.
In September 2005, Lina entered Hadassah. Anna arrived from South Africa - after she was interrogated for several hours at the airport - and the operation was performed on October 2, 2005. Lina was three years old at the time. Her father also finally received a permit to be with her at the hospital. On the day of the operation, Anna's fiance, Mandisi Majavu, arrived to be with her at the hospital.
The transplant was successfully performed by Prof. Ahmed Eid, head of the department of surgery at Hadassah in Ein Karem. Anna was discharged after a week and taken to Qira for recovery. She stayed there for about a month and flew home to South Africa on the day Lina was discharged. "We only had a few hours when the two of them were together," Fareed relates.
On the last night of Anna's stay in the village, the family held an improvised wedding reception for her and her fiance, who would be married a few weeks later in South Africa. The photos of the party in the family album reflect tremendous joy: Anna in a colorful and traditional embroidered Palestinian dress; Mandisi in a kaffiyeh and galabiya, both pure white, rolling amber beads with his fingers.
A short while later at the airport, Anna was again interrogated for a few hours before being allowed to leave. The security people told her she would never be allowed into Israel again. She did not sign any document, she said this week. Since then, she and Mandisi have become the parents of a daughter in South Africa. Her name: Bil'in Nkwenkwezi.
Lina recovered fully. We met her this week in the family's second home, in an affluent suburb of El Bireh, next to Ramallah. She is a charming girl, full of life. One cannot see any outward signs of what she went through. She is in the fourth grade in the American School of Palestine, which is near her home.
Every few months she goes to Hadassah for a checkup, and because her father cannot enter Israel, an Israeli volunteer takes her from the checkpoint to the hospital. It's usually Shraga Gorny, a 76-year-old Jerusalemite. Gorny, an electronics engineer, worked for 41 years at the Hebrew University and for the past 10, did medical research at Hadassah. Gorny regularly volunteers to drive Palestinian children for medical treatment at the hospital, which is how he met Lina and her family and got to know them well. (He is one of a group of Israelis - among them Herzliya-based peace activist Dorothy Naor - involved in such efforts. )
A few weeks ago, Gorny wrote me: "The girl who was like a matchstick before the transplant now looks beautiful and blooming."
According to Fareed, Lina is not yet able to appreciate what Anna did for her. For her part, Anna told me this week, on the phone from Cape Town: "It was nothing. The body does not need two kidneys. I did not do anything special. I don't think it was a noble act, as you said. I know the family and I have known Lina since she was born. I know the ordeals the family endured when they had to go through the hills by foot to get her to the hospital during the period of the curfew. It was only logical for me to donate a kidney for her. That was my duty. I just worry that Lina's kidney will function and that no problems will arise in another few years."
Anna is now a journalist in South Africa and raising Bil'in. Meanwhile, in a few weeks, the family will celebrate the sixth anniversary of the transplant. They celebrate Lina's rebirth every year and their dream is for Anna to join them. Lina has never met Anna since the operation, but Anna is still banned from entering Israel.
A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority sent the following response to Haaretz: "An examination of the details shows that there is no request by Mrs. Weekes to enter Israel. The interrogation she underwent when she left the country was not carried out by a representative of the authority, so, accordingly, in the absence of a reason of which we are not aware, there is nothing to prevent her from visiting Israel. "It should be clarified that if she wishes to enter the territories of the Palestinian Authority," the spokeswoman continues, "she must arrange this with the coordinator of government activities in the territories. It is also desirable to check the question of why she was delayed [at the airport] with the relevant authorities."