(BIVN) – A volunteer who has been helping children with prosthetic limbs in Gaza is now stranded due to the outbreak of violence in the region.
Ramona Okumura is a prosthetics expert in Seattle who has family ties to Hawaiʻi island. Her brother is Miles Okumura of Honokaʻa, the organizer of the Peace Day Parade.
This news release concerning the situation was shared on Wednesday:
Community organizer Miles Okumura of Honoka‘a, is learning that promoting peace is more than just a lofty aspiration. After 15 years of work with the Peace Committee of Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Okumura has learned how peace can be a personal crisis, because of the violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Okumura’s sister, Ramona Okumura, is presently in Gaza, and unable to leave without a ceasefire.
Ramona is a retired prothesis expert who resides in Seattle, Washington. She has frequently traveled to Gaza to volunteer her services helping help children who lost their limbs due to the violence. Because the decades-long blockade has made it almost impossible to secure modern equipment and services, she has also trained medical staff to provide artificial limbs using the most basic materials.
Ramona is staying in a small hotel, where she and another physician (Dr. Barbara Preston Zind) are the only guests remaining. In the photo, the two of them are seen smiling, even though the hotel restaurant behind them is devoid of other guests.
Presently, they are waiting for visas which will allow them to cross the southern border into Egypt. Regardless, they are not going to make the 20-mile drive until there is assurance of a meaningful ceasefire. In the meantime, they are concerned about the increasing bombardment which surrounds them night and day. (During an interview with CNN yesterday, missile strikes interrupted Dr. Zind while on camera.)
Miles Okumura explains, “Ramona says she feels relatively safe where they are staying because the Israelis and Hamas know that their hotel has historically housed Western medical staff, and they are only a couple of blocks away from a major hospital. But there have been strikes on United Nations schools which are sheltering refugees, and I am afraid that, of the thousands of missiles and artillery shells, she is only one errant strike away from tragedy.
Miles says that her nieces and nephews in Hawai‘i and on the mainland are tworking diligently to try and help Ramona by contacting the United Nations evacuation staff and connecting them with her. They are also using social media channels and personal appeals to share Ramona’s plight, and ask for assistance.
“Ramona’s birthday is today,” says Miles. “We know her biggest wish is to be able to go home, so our ‘ohana is asking everyone to please contact your government representatives and ask them to lobby for a ceasefire. Encourage them to find a diplomatic solution to the cycle of oppression and violence.”