Harun Comes Home (Still an Interim Report)

To all our friends,


I turned off my computer as I finished watching the documentary Good Garbag, but no button can turn off my mind’s eye and scenes from the film are still projected onto my heart’s screen even now, will probably continue tomorrow, and perhaps never really be erased from the pile of scenes etched in me, as only the open space of my spirit wraps them and the pain they entail.
Harun was eleven when he joined all those boys, youths, young- and older men who get up before dawn and stream to the central garbage dump in the South Hebron Hills, to try and collect from it things that can be restored, improved, and sold, and bring home a few shekels for food and clothing. Ada Ushpiz and Shosh Shalem documented them and produced the film twelve years ago (check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGkO8s49l00&t=5s).
My friends and I have been following Harun and his family since November 25, 2020, the day on which the occupation forces demolished their home in the hamlet of Khirbet Rakeez, and continue to accompany them ever since those forces also destroyed Harun’s life, on January 1, 2021.
Every time I look at him lying in bed, in the various hospitals where he has spent the past ten months, and now in the house accommodated for his needs in the town of Yatta, I try to imagine him as a child – how did he grow up? With whom did he play? What did he feel? What did he think about? How did his parents look after him?
I now have partial answers for questions that sought them. Torturing answers that only intensify the pain which has been grilling my soul even without them. A delicate and modest child looks out at me from the film that documented him twelve years ago, when he was eleven. Bigger children harassed him and he did not find his place at the garbage dump. He brought home a few shekels and a deep sadness. His loving mother Farsi tried to help, but the competitive – at times even violent – culture that developed at that garbage dump did not suit this delicate, sensitive and innocent boy.
The last scene in the film opens to the viewer’s vision the virginal hills of the South Hebron Hills with their vast spaces. Rasmi, Harun’s father, says to his small son there: ‘Don’t go to the garbage dump any more. It’s not for you. Please, go back to school. You’ll study there. It’s important to study.’
Harun never went back to his school studies, but he never returned to the garbage dump either. Harun went out to learn the language of the desert. He learned its curves, the open and invisible crannies of this earth which hosted him and his sheep and goats. Together they prayed for rain, together they were joyous when it came, and together they coped with the dry season.
For twelve years Harun and his family lived in their cave at Rakeez and in its fields, until the day when his body was vanquished by an evil gunshot from a soldier of the Israeli occupation forces.
Ten months and three weeks have passed since that day.
The first four-and-a-half months after he was shot, Haroun spent in the ICU at Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. They saved his life, but there was a need to wean him from the ventilation machine to which he was connected. In all of the occupied West Bank not a single hospital was found specializing in respiratory rehabilitation, so we looked for an Israeli hospital specializing in this treatment, as well as institutional funding. In the meantime, Al-Ahli hospital, financed by the Palestinian Authority, cared for Harun as much as it could, for four-and-a-half months. Several health parameters, necessary for possible respiratory rehabilitation, were stabilized, but at the same time Harun’s body developed bedsores that worsened. The Palestinian hospital notified his family that it could no longer hold Harun after the end of May 2021. At the same time, Reuth, an Israeli hospital, with a ward dedicated to respiratory rehabilitation, agreed to receive Harun. But we had not yet found funding. The State of Israel is not willing to accept even humanitarian responsibility, and the Palestinian Authority is not willing to finance hospitalization in Israel. In our distress, we had no other choice but to try and appeal to people in this universe whose heart is still open to compassion, as Tikh Nhat Han’s poem reads – ‘Please call Me by my True Names’, whose last lines are as follows:
Please call me by my true names,So I can hear all my cries and laughterAt once,So I can see that my joy and pain are one.Please, call me by my true names,So I can wake up,So that the door of my heart could remain open -The door of compassion

The rest is history.
Harun was hospitalized in Reuth for five months, as a “medical tourist” ( more than 90,000 shekels a month), all funded by private persons in Israel and abroad, each donating as much as they could. We do not have the sufficient words to express our feelings of gratitude.
On October 24, 2021, Harun was released from the hospital and returned to a home reconstructed and fitting his special needs – not in his village of A-Rakeez, but in the nearby town of Yatta. No fields, no flock, no horse that he had wished to purchase, nor the wide-open desert. But no more hospitals. Now he is surrounded by his loving family.
Harun is now breathing independently but struggles with repetitive inflammations caused by his bedsores. The treatment that a hospital can offer him – at the cost of more than 90,000 shekels a month – can now be obtained for him at home, with a much lower cost.
Just before Harun was released, the chief nurse specializing in bedsores told us: “These sores [which in Harun’s case are in the most severe stage] will either heal, which may take years, or kill him.”
We continue to accompany Harun and his family. Again, we have been knocking on the doors of the Palestinian Authority (after all, he is now under its jurisdiction) and again we are refused, over and over again. However, in the meantime Harun needs medication and other equipment, and three male nurses that take care of him, and must be paid, after his mother has been taking care of him for more than a week, 24 hours a day, while her other children no longer remembered when she last functioned as their mother.
During the few weeks that have passed since Harun’s return to Yatta, a team of male nurses has been formed, under the capable hands of Muhammad Daoud, a senior and experienced male nurse coordinating Harun’s treatment, who has knowledge of and connections with medical institutions in the area. This team was recently joined by our friend from Umm al-Kheir, the physiotherapist Alaa Hathaleen. This team’s dedicated treatment is already bearing fruit in terms of Harun’s both physical and emotional condition. The ability to continue and cover the costs of this home-care team, currently estimated at about 10,000 ILS a month, is crucial for Harun’s survival and for his learning to come to terms and to cope with the severe handicaps his injury entails.
Reality does not allow us to feel embarrassed, ashamed, apologetic. We now stand before you, bare, and ask for your help yet again. And yet again we shall not even have enough words to thank you, nor do we have words for big promises. Harun is walking (metaphorically) a very thin line between life and death. And we still wish to do everything we can for him, for his life, as long as he is struggling to live.
Erella (on behalf of Yair, Ehud, Tamar, Hamed, Islam, Dani and Nadav)

For donations:
Hibuk Olam, Bank Leumi (10), Branch 806 (Dizengoff), Account 30619648
In USA: nonviolenceinternational.net In UK: cafdonate.cafonline.org
In using those channels, please specify that your donation is going to Harun’s home treatment

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