by Margherita Chiara Immordino Tedesco
There are men who leave an indelible mark, men who create opportunities and break down barriers built over time, creating the foundations of a new world where the hope lies in a greater awareness that the differences between peoples and peoples, represent an added value and prosperous life of brotherhood and charity.
On February 3, 2019, Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi for a visit to the United Arab Emirates. It was the first historic visit of a Pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula, who accepted the invitation of the Crown Prince, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, managing to embrace for the fifth time, the next day, the Great Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahamad Al-Tayyb.
The Emirate government declared 2019 the “Year of Tolerance” where, in addition to the Pope’s visit, a political solution to the war in Yemen was initiated, which caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the last four years.
“Here in the Emirates – said President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan – the Year of Tolerance will be celebrated as an effort to further advance the decades-long dream of creating a tolerant and cohesive society, open to peoples of different cultures and religions. The United Arab Emirates and Tolerance go hand in hand.
All this happens in the year in which the Church remembers the eight centuries since the meeting between St Francis and Sultan Malik al-Kamil, which took place in Damietta in Egypt in 1219. Symbol and logo of the historic meeting is a dove bearing an olive branch, decorated with the colors of the two flags, the Vatican and that of the United Arab Emirates.
“One cannot honor the Creator without safeguarding the sacredness of every person and of every human life: each one is equally precious in the eyes of God. Because He does not look to the human family with a gaze of preference that excludes, but with a gaze of benevolence that includes. Therefore, to recognize the same rights for every human being is to glorify the Name of God on earth”. […] “Brotherhood certainly also expresses the multiplicity and difference that exists between brothers, even though they are bound by birth and have the same nature and the same dignity”. “Religious plurality is an expression of this. In this context, the right attitude is neither forced uniformity nor conciliatory syncretism: what we are called to do, as believers, is to commit ourselves to the equal dignity of all, in the name of the Merciful One who created us and in whose name the composition of contrasts and fraternity in diversity is to be sought”. “Here I would like to reiterate the conviction of the Catholic Church: ‘We cannot invoke God as the Father of all men, if we refuse to act as brothers to some of the men who are created in the image of God'”.
These are the words of the Pontiff visiting for the first time the Emirates, citing the declaration “Nostra Aetate”; recognition, of the religious meaning in the life of each man and principle of universal brotherhood.
The visit of Pope Francis builds a new meeting point” between peoples and in honor of this, Professor Abdallah Raweh, Italo Arabo, a world-renowned heart surgeon, launched an international humanitarian mission that will lead to operate and care for 100 poor children free of charge.
“I’m going to do 100 more charities than I already foresee annually to help those in need. My thoughts of gratitude go to this great Pontiff who, by his fraternal work, really knows how to build bridges and identify ways of dialogue that were unthinkable until some time ago. It is a great example that he offers to all and to which I want to pay homage”.
Gestures like this give new hope; as men, we build illusory differences between ourselves since the mists of time, cultures and traditions that belong to the whole globe should now more than ever begin to be seen exclusively as wealth added to the priceless heritage of creation that is man himself. The same men who succeed in distinguishing themselves by their actions, represent the cornerstone, which keeps humanity standing in considering itself by its very definition and value, “human”. We must hope that in this new era, enlightened and daring men, resolute and charitable, will represent more and more cyclopean walls, stones, bricks of our highest values, where we can enclose and celebrate humanity itself and that men like Professor Abdallah Raweh will be an example and inspiration for the new generations.
The esteemed Professor Raweh, in 2017 alone carried out 370 interventions, two-thirds of which on children between London and Dubai, 2017 was also the year in which he first met the Holy Pontiff in the Vatican.
The professor thus remembers that unforgettable experience:
“It was two years when I told him my story and commitment to the poor he took my hands in his hands and blessed them. He is a wise man, Pope Francis and humanly special.
Professor Raweh is no stranger to these wonderful humanitarian actions involving children with malformations and heart problems,
He said: “I’m a very lucky man and it’s right that I take care of others in a non-profit way. For this reason, every month I divide myself between Dubai, Abu Dhabi and several other countries where I am programmed to intervene for the less fortunate people to whom we therefore give assistance at the highest levels”.
Abdallah Raweh is an Italian-Arabic, born into an important Yemeni family rooted between Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. He felt a vocation for medicine since childhood as well as a passion for Italy derived from an instinctive transport for culture and beauty. Contrary to his father’s advice, who wanted to manage the family heritage, thanks to a mother who supported him, at sixteen he was already at the University for Foreigners in Perugia, where he later received the medal of honor for his scientific merits.
He then enrolled, without any doubt, in the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in Bologna. After graduating from the Policlinico San Donato, after having been a top surgeon for twelve years, he moved to London, where, in addition to an intense university career, he boasts an illustrious and unusual professional curriculum vitae.He is a member of various societies and associations including SICCH (Italian Society for Cardio Surgery), RSM (Royal Society of Medicine – UK), SCTS (The Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery – UK), Swiss Confederation Medical Association Council, EACTS (European Association for Cardiothoracic Surgery), Society of Thoracic Surgeons, AATS (American Association for Thoracic Surgery – USA), EMA (Emirates Medical Association).
In a second meeting with his holy father in 2018, Raweh, was honored in the Vatican, in recognition of his humanitarian efforts and his volunteer services to serve adult patients and children with heart disease in Italy, where according to estimates, 1 child in 100 is born with malformations or heart failure.After the last meeting with Pope Francis in the United Arab Emirates to date, 22 young patients have already been successfully operated on by Professor Raweh, some of them in the International Quironsalud Centre in Barcelona, one of the cutting edge centres in Spain, of which the cardiac surgeon Professor Abella Raul is the primary one.Often moving to the United States, Europe and the Middle East, where the patient cannot be taken to London for surgery, Professor Raweh returns regularly to the Emirates to carry out a humanitarian programme dedicated to people who otherwise would not be able to afford such complex surgical procedures. The “Charity” programme is supported by the Emirates Red Cross and is supported by the foundation of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid.
We hope that the meeting between the Pontiff and Professor Raweh and the praiseworthy humanitarian actions undertaken by the Professor, as well as giving again a smile on the faces of children and parents around the world, will be a point of momentum for a perpetual humanitarian campaign that involves more and more professionals from various sectors, to help the less fortunate.