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Young woman killed in Melbourne honoured with medical fellowships to bridge Palestinian, Israeli health gap

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Time hasn’t helped fill the void left by Aiia Maasarwe, a 21-year-old Palestinian-Israeli woman who came to Melbourne to study for a year in 2019 only to die at the hands of a brutal murderer.

“It’s not easy. Aiia’s passing has kept a huge hole in our life and our heart. I think about her every day,” her father Saeed Maasarwe said.

“I cannot forget. Always she is in my mind. Not just me, all the family. She kept a big hole in our life. She was very positive girl, very happy. We miss her huge and we miss her immense.”

The young woman was killed four years ago on January 16 after she stepped off a city tram at Bundoora on her way home. She was talking with her sister Ruba on the phone when Codey Herrmann struck her with a pipe multiple times and raped her.

Herrmann was sentenced to 36 years jail, with 30 years without parole, by the Victorian Supreme Court in October 2019.

She is survived by her father, her mother Kittan Maasarwe and her sisters Ruba, Noor and Lena Maasarwe.

Her family, supported by international not-for-profit organisation Project Rozana which is headquartered in Melbourne, are determined her story will be defined by hope ahead of two fellowships being awarded to Palestinian physicians to train in Israeli hospitals on the anniversary of her death on Monday.

The program, called the Aiia Maasarwe Memorial Medical Fellowship Program, will kick off this year after the global pandemic disrupted it in 2020.

Mr Maasarwe, speaking from China where his business is located, said his family wanted to dedicate a positive memorial to their daughter.

“We try to make a bridge between the different people in Israel and we will try to make a better life and better future for all their society,” he said.

“Always (Aiia) was very positive. She looked from any people … she doesn’t look about his nationality or about his opinion or mind or religion,” he said. “She takes all people as a human.”

Deputy chair of Project Rozana and southwest Sydney GP Jamal Rifi said Project Rozana and the fellowships had a simple purpose: to build relationships ­between Israelis and Palestinians through health.

“The senseless killing of Aiia Maasarwe shook not just Melbourne or the nation, (it) shook the world,” Dr Rifi said.

“And her family wanted to leave a legacy that reflected everything that Aiia believed in.”

Almost half – 40 per cent – of the five million people who live in the West Bank and Gaza are under the age of 15 – but there are only 10 pediatric intensive care beds spread across the Palestinian territories available to service that population.

Dr Rifi said Israeli healthcare was world renowned, but there were significant gaps in the Palestinian system.

“We can fill those gaps,” he said. “(Project Rozana) relies on the generous donations of well-meaning people who want to … help the Palestinians and help create a bridge of understanding between the Israeli and the Palestinian because we believe in the two-state solution.”

As a result of the fellowships, Dr Ruba Rizik of the Al Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem will train in pediatric intensive care at Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv, and Dr Ahmad Shaheen of the Al Ahli Hospital in Hebron will train in pediatric ophthalmology at Ichilov Hospital, also in Tel Aviv.

They will then return to their home hospitals located in the Palestinian territories.

Article link:
Article source: The Australian | Angelica Snowden |January 13, 2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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