An international fundraising campaign in England and the United States has enabled St Luke’s Hospital in Nablus to buy an ambulance – and with it, secure its future. The hospital was started by the Anglican mission agency CMS more than 100 years ago, and it is now run as a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. But tighter accreditation rules from the Palestinian Ministry of Health meant that its accreditation as a hospital was at risk unless it was able to replace its struggling 15-year-old ambulance.
The hospital’s existing ambulance was purchased in 2003. Over the years it has transported thousands of patients from Nablus and the surrounding towns – making 2,100 emergency trips in 2017 alone. But frequent breakdowns and the unreliable nature of the ambulance resulted in an additional 2,000 calls being diverted to other medical providers
Last year (2018), the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced tighter standards in its annual hospital accreditation review. This led to concerns about St Luke’s ambulance, as it did not meet the hospital’s requirement to provide a well-equipped, safe, and operational ambulance. Without a new ambulance, St Luke’s would lose its accreditation and would have to close.
In England, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Anglican Communion Fund began a crowd-funding campaign; and in the United States, the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem also started fund raising. Together, the two groups raised sufficient funds to provide a new ambulance.
St Luke’s is now able to continue its life-saving work to the Palestinian community between Jerusalem and Nazareth.
Fund-raising efforts in the US were led by Sari Ateek, Rector of St John’s Norwood in Chevy Chase, Maryland. A Palestinian Christian and son of an Episcopal priest, Ateek grew up in Jerusalem and moved to the US at the age of 19 to attend college. After leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2014, his congregation began supporting the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and now pay part of a nurse’s salary at St Luke’s Hospital.
“The exciting thing wasn’t so much how much money”, Ateek told the Episcopal News Service after the success of his ecumenical fund-raising efforts. “It was more the enthusiasm of the response from people around this,” he said.