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Jersey-sponsored specialist explains her valuable work

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A JERSEY-sponsored specialist from Palestine has visited the Island to showcase the life-changing work she undertakes in one of the busiest eye hospitals in the world.

Nurse Muyassar Ghanem

Muyassar Ghanem, a frontline worker in the St John Ophthalmic Hospital in east Jerusalem, provides eye care to thousands of people living with high levels of poverty.

Mrs Ghanem, head of diagnostics at the hospital, was in Jersey for four days this week to speak to St John Ambulance Jersey and Jersey Overseas Aid, which are paying her full-time salary until 2021, as well as to tour Jersey Hospital’s ophthalmology department.

‘It’s a beautiful Island,’ said Mrs Ghanem who helps diagnose children with hereditary eye problems, as well as illnesses that arise through complications with diabetes and hypertension. ‘It’s nice to be here to see the people behind the support and to thank them.’

Speaking about the importance of her job, she said: ‘We have children born to be blind in our country because of the intra-familial marriage. People don’t have the chance to meet different people to get married to, especially in Gaza. A lot of people marry their cousins. This is the main problem as then they have sick children.’

Mrs Ghanem, who is undertaking a masters in biotechnology dealing with genetics at Bethlehem University, said: ‘Hopefully in the future we will find a therapy to treat those people who have hereditary disease.’

St John Ambulance Jersey has been paying half of Mrs Ghanem’s salary since 2005.

It approached the JOA last year to match its contribution and now the charity pays about £13,000 annually and the aid agency about £14,000.

‘If one looks at the origin of the St John Ambulance it actually started off in Jerusalem several centuries ago,’ Barry Marsden, commandery executive officer of St John Ambulance Jersey, said.

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‘The knights of St John moved to Rhodes and Malta, then the order sort of diminished. It re-established in the Victorian times and the eye hospital in Palestine was set up in the Victorian times.

‘Ever since then, every St John Ambulance in the UK and the islands has contributed towards their own charitable causes but also the eye hospital. We give donations so we can enhance the eyesight of people in that part of the world so they can have a greater quality of life.’

Mr Marsden added: ‘While the vast majority of the funds we raise are for community good here, whether it is our public events cover or work in schools, we still feel that we can assist in improving people’s health in other countries.’

International Development Minister and chairwoman of JOA Deputy Carolyn Labey said: ‘We have increased our support to local charities quite significantly in recent years such as Durrell, the RJH&S and Hands Around the World. St John Ambulance were looking for some sort of partnership for this particular project and it seemed to us to be an extremely worthwhile and valuable project to the people in east Jerusalem.’

Krysta Eaves

By Krysta Eaves
author

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