AS Australia marks the first anniversary of the death of Aiia Maasarwe, her father Saeed has welcomed a pledge by Gandel Philanthropy to match donations to a medical fellowship program named in her honour, up to a value of $50,000.
The 21-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel who was studying at La Trobe University was raped and murdered on January 16, 2019.
Last November, Saeed and Aiia’s sister Noor travelled to Melbourne for the launch of Project Rozana’s Aiia Maasarwe Memorial Medical Fellowship Program, which aims to provide training for Palestinian health workers in Israeli hospitals, with skills they can then use in their own communities.
To date, $90,000 has been raised for the initiative, with a target set of $200,000.
Welcoming the Gandel Foundation pledge, Saeed Maasarwe said, “The donations will be used wisely and their impact comes at a time when we need hope and inspiration.”
He added, “My daughter would have been inspired by Project Rozana, which is helping Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza to receive the same level of health care that we do in Israel.
“Project Rozana shows that Israelis and Palestinians can live and work together in harmony, and that is also something that was important to Aiia.”
Announcing the $50,000 dollar-for-dollar matching donation, Gandel Philanthropy CEO Vedran Drakulic said, “The Gandel family is pleased to be able to provide support to help honour Aiia Maasarwe’s memory in a way that will enable cross-cultural training and cooperation in health between Israelis and Palestinians, and improve health outcomes for all.
“We hope this Project Rozana initiative will be a very successful one and we encourage the community to partner with us at this important time.”
Echoing the sentiment, Project Rozana chair Ron Finkel said, “We are indebted to the Gandel family and its philanthropic arm, for their support of Project Rozana.
“There are a growing number of philanthropic organisations in Australia who recognise that health, more than any other part of civil society, allows Palestinians and Israelis to meet on common ground and advance their mutual interests.”
To donate to the Aiia Maasarwe Memorial Medical Fellowship, visit www.mycause.com.au/page/214923/remembering-aiia.