David och Henrik (PGS), Marwan (GCMHP), Nancy (USA)
Speech delivered by video to the opening event during the International Conference on Mental Health and Human Rights, organized by the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, Gaza City 19-20 April, 2016. Johan Schaar, Head of Development Cooperation, Consulate General of Sweden, Jerusalem.
Please receive my regrets for not being with you in Gaza today. I had looked forward to attending the conference. My absence is due to circumstances beyond my control, the same circumstances that keep the people of Gaza locked in. This must soon change.
There are many reasons why I would have liked to be with you today, let me mention two in particular.
First, the core of the activities of GCMHP is to defend and uphold the dignity of the people in Gaza, particularly some of its most traumatized and vulnerable citizens. To help overcome the burden of mental ill-health and fight the stigma associated with it, to help people regain their functionality as the human persons they are and to realize their God-given gifts – this is a formidable task where GCMHP has gained the respect of all, under the able leadership of Dr Yasser Jamei, who sometimes says that the most important element for healing is hope, which is now a very scarce resource in Gaza. Today, we celebrate the achievements of GCMHP.
Second, the partnership and collaboration between Sweden and GCMHP goes back many years. We are proud of that partnership which has involved so many Swedes and where PGS has played a leading role. It includes many individuals, two of them are here today – Drs Henrik Pelling and David Henley. They are involved in a professional partnership where both sides are learning and benefitting as I have been able to observe. Most recently this involves working with autistic children and their parents in Gaza. They have told me of their admiration for the work done and the commitment of staff and parents. For us, the conference is a celebration of this partnership.
I wish you a very successful conference.