A Spectrum doctor with Palestinian heritage has raised more than £10,000 for humanitarian funds – together with her Jewish best friend – in a sporting weekend to highlight a message of peace, unity and humanity.
Dr Suesanne Samara, who works in Wakefield, completed a triathlon challenge for her fundraiser with best friend Sarah Sochon-Smith, a fellow doctor who has Israeli relatives.
As news of the fundraiser spread in the run up to their challenge, they were joined by participants who pledged their own distances; 153 people from seven different countries worldwide – aged between 2 and 78 years old – took part. The group also included MP for Leeds North West, Alex Sobel, whose parents hail from Israel.
Together, they took part in a weekend of swimming, cycling and running to complete a distance which equals the perimeter of Gaza (102km); however, the group’s united efforts achieved the equivalent of encircling Gaza 27 times, raising £10,631 to date.
Funds raised will go to Médecins Sans Frontiers’ conflict appeal. As doctors, the duo have a special affinity with MSF’s non-political humanitarian and medical mission, which sends help to wherever it is needed the most. News of the challenge has also been published by the Wakefield Express and Leeds Live.
Dr Samara said, “As a Muslim British Palestinian, and primarily a human, the last couple months have been so difficult to understand. Whichever side of the conflict you sit on, the scale of devastation and suffering is unimaginable. The loss of civilian lives is sending shockwaves of grief, insecurity, hate, division, and fear for the present and future across the globe. As a human race, we are not OK right now and need positive action to signal peace, unity and dialogue for the sake of humanity.”
“Sarah and I coming together for this fundraiser, despite it being hard to open channels of dialogue about this painful conflict, has brought us closer together as best friends, mothers, doctors and humanitarians. Naturally, we have different perspectives on things – but we both deeply believe in the most fundamental principles above all; peace, humanity and unity. We united in the form of sporting relief for that message.”
The fundraising triathlon, which began on Saturday 25 November, had a goal of 12km of swimming (border of Gaza with Egypt), 51km of cycling (border of Gaza with Israel) and 41km of running (Gaza sea distance). This target, however, was smashed, with the group achieving a total distance of 2,760km.
Dr Samara, who has worked at Spectrum for nearly three years, also hosts registrars and leads educational webinars. Prior to her role, she worked with the homeless population in Leeds, as well as helping refugees.
Spectrum’s Chief Executive, Dr Linda Harris OBE, said: “Suesanne and her long-time friend embody our organisation’s core values, where professionalism and compassion underpin the focus we have on delivering quality healthcare to people in vulnerable circumstances. We are immensely proud of what they have achieved and raised, working together to bring humanitarian joy during these dark times.”