I was introduced to the sixty orphan children at the Creche in Bethlehem on December 24 and it was there that I met Salam, who at six weeks of age had been found last May in a trash bin in the town of Ramallah. When she was discovered Salam weighed only six pounds, her breathing was shallow and she was not expected to live. There were no clues to her identity and she was given over to an organization of social services until Sr. Rennee travelled to Ramallah and brought Salam to Bethlehem. Once at the Creche, Salam was given a thorough physical examination and it was discovered that she had a congenital malformation of her heart. If she could survive until she weighed at least thirteen pounds, open heart surgery would be performed. At the January meeting of the Expatriate Network I told the women present about the Creche, some of its needs, and encouraged the women to go to Bethlehem and visit the children. An Australian woman, Vicki, begin calling around to her friends for clothing and toys and then several of the expatriate women went out to deliver the articles and to visit with the children and sisters. There they heard the story of Salam, who had just had the delicate heart surgery at the Israeli Hadassah Ein Karem hospital. They were told that normally for this kind of surgery, members of the patient's family would donate blood in order to help re-supply the blood bank. Three women left the Creche and went directly to Hadassah hospital to roll up their sleeves and to give blood in Salam's name. Like family, they have continued to visit Salam as she fights for her life there in the Pediatric intensive care unit. Sr. Rennee has remained at Salam's bedside for weeks. Dr. Eli Milgalter, the cardiologist who is responsible for Salam's care has shown real concern for the child and the surgeon waived his fee. Though Salam's life was almost extinguished, many people from very different cultures and nations have given of themselves to help her fight for life. One of the Rabbis with whom I worked a couple of weeks ago said: "What has happened to Salam shows human rights are a natural instinct at the most basic level. I'm glad people are still capable of working together for a common goal, regardless of ideologies and religious beliefs." In spite of these days of violence and death in Israel and the West Bank, a child has been a bond among us as she continued to chose life these past twenty-six days in the intensive care unit. If we could all chose life, not just for ourselves but for others, this part of the world would be a very different place. Her name, Salam, is Arabic for "peace". May Salam have a future in this land. May peace truly be out common goal. Sr Mary is an Ursuline nun working in Jerusalem
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