The sweet 16 had the opportunity to step into my world for a day and become better acquainted with the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH). Housed in a historical stone structure, this building served many purposes before being acquired as a center of care for Palestinian refugees in 1948 by the Lutheran World Federation.
Since that time, AVH has transitioned from a secondary care hospital to a leader in specialized medicine including but not limited to cancer treatment, radiology, hematology, nephrology, and diabetes care, offering the only services in Palestinian territories in cancer radiation therapy and pediatric kidney dialysis. On any given day 320 AVH staff operate 102 of the 170 beds available, providing a standard of care that recently earned the Hopsital accreditation by The Joint Commission International, the most prominent health care accreditor in the U.S. AVH is the only hospital with such a designation in all of Israel and Palestine.
But Augusta Victoria Hospial is much more than just a medical care center; it’s a support system of relief for an East Jersalem community constantly under duress. It’s a football pitch built to FIFA standards with artificial turf and night lights that allow for recreation around the clock for Palenstian families with few options for play in The West Bank. Not only does this field provide for recreation, but it also prevents further construction of illegal Israeli settlements that have recently emerged just next to the field. If this property was merely a dirt lot as it was just a year ago, Israel could occupy that land and settle. Thanks to the LWF and its partners, that land will remain a safe space for East Jerusalemites. AVH’s reach doesn’t stop there, however.
The Augusta Victoria is a tabernacle of worship and fellowship at the on campus Lutheran Church of the Ascension. It’s a transportation system that facilitates the movement of Palestinian patients seeking life saving treatment from as far as Gaza. It’s a hospitality center, providing lodging for pilgrims at the Augusta Victoria guest house and housing for patients at the Jerusalem Hotel who require long term care and are unable to commute back and forth either due to the strain of checkpoints, or the strain of travel on physical health . It’s an impending senior living center that’s poised to provide care, community, and comfort for the elderly.
AVH is more than just a hospital, it’s a statement of sustainability. A symbol of community. A pillar of progress for palestinian people that can be seen everytime you look to the Mt. of Olives. The Augusta Victoria is more than just a hospital. It’s everything the occupation is not: justice, peace, reconciliation, and above all, LOVE.