When armed conflict is a way of life, a permanent solution may seem impossible. But even if small acts of personal courage don’t ultimately lead to bigger results, there are people on both sides who continue to fight for peace.
Israeli kindergarten teacher and mother of three Idit Harel Segal wanted to do something useful for her 50th birthday. Instead of accepting a gift, she chose to give out one.
In memory of her late grandfather, Segal decided to donate her kidney. The rescue gift offered by Segal was not only in keeping with her Jewish beliefs, it was also her way of extending an olive branch, as the recipient of her kidney was a three-year-old Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip.
Although the number of entry permits is very limited, the Jerusalem-based NGO Matnat Chaim had to arrange surgical procedures on humanitarian grounds. (To bring the boy to the top of the Gaza donor list, his father also agreed to donate his kidney to an Israeli patient, a 25-year-old mother of two.)
With all the parts available, surgery was scheduled for June 16, 2021, but before that happened, Segal wanted to make sure the boy knew how much it meant to give him this gift when he grew up, so she sent a letter to him.
“You don’t know me… you don’t understand my language and I don’t understand yours, but we’ll be close soon because my kidney will be in your body,” she wrote. “I sincerely hope that this operation will be successful and that you will live a long, healthy and meaningful life.”
At the hospital, Segal meets the boy and his mother.* She sits next to them on his hospital bed, and while the mother comforts his son, Segal sings to him while he nods.
“He fell asleep, then I left. I cried,” she recalled in an interview with the Associated Press (AP). “It’s really moving. I knew deep down that I have done something good. “
Segal admits that her behavior was not accepted without conflict within her own family. Her husband, eldest son, and father were initially against the plan.
However, Segal saw the move as the best way to honor the values of her beloved grandfather, whom he had lost five years earlier, had to stick to the decision she says came on the heels of an 11-day outbreak of renewed hostilities.
“I threw away my anger and frustration and see only one thing. I see hope for peace and love. And when there are more people like us, there’s nothing to fight for,” she told the AP.
In the end, her family respected and accepted her decision.
Segal believes that what she has done is a “small thing” compared to the grander scheme of things – but nevertheless, every step towards peace that is taken in good faith is a step in the right direction. Watch video below…