A few Icelandic nursing and medical students, and one student from the junior college Kvennaskólinn in Reykjavík, are currently acting as volunteers in Palestine. Some of them teach English for Project Hope, others assist the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS).
Nursing student Gunnar Pétursson, who belongs to the group of volunteers, told Fréttabladid their help is much needed.
“Just us being in an ambulance, even though we don’t do anything else, means it will be allowed to pass through a road block. Palestinians’ freedom to travel is severely impaired. Patients are dying because ambulances are stopped,” Pétursson said.
Pétursson explained that the group had originally planned to volunteer in Kenya, but one of the volunteers, Anna Tómasdóttir, suggested they go to Palestine instead where she had volunteered before.
Most of the medical work the volunteers with a background in medicine have to perform is similar to the work in Iceland, Pétursson said.
“But we may of course have to care for someone who has been stoned the day before. But I don’t think I will receive patients who have gunshot wounds or injuries from a bomb attack, although I never know for sure what will happen.”
The participants cover their traveling costs, food purchases and accommodation themselves, but Pétursson said their experience is worth it.
“If we succeed making life bearable for one person […], teach one person first aid which can be used to safe a human life […], or vaccinate one child and prevent it from contracting a disease, then that is a victory.”
“And we also bear witness to this situation,” Pétursson added. “But I’m not going to pick a side. I would not walk passed anyone who is injured, regardless if it’s an Israeli or a Palestinian.”