Child cancer patients enjoy a dream holiday in London


A group of 138 Israeli children with cancer have been in London this week on the trip of a lifetime, under the auspices of the Zichron Menachem charity.

Accompanied by doctors, nurses, therapists and Zichron Menachem staff, they have been to 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and other capital attractions. Most of the children have never been to the UK before.

"It was my dream to come to England," said Elyah, 12, who lives in West Bank settlement Bat Ayin.

On Tuesday night, the group attended a dinner at Barnet Football Club's Hive Suite to celebrate Zichron Menachem's 25th anniversary.

Eli Seliger, chair of its UK support group, said: "When I started it was a million dollar budget [in Israel]. Today we're at three and a half million."

As well as the overseas trips, Zichron Menachem operates a day centre, a hospital programme and a platelet bank providing urgently needed replacement blood cells. It offers services to children regardless of their race or religion.

Israeli-Arab children were among the tour party. Two Palestinian-Arab children were unable to travel because their papers were not processed in time by the British embassy.

"Zichron Menachem is there to support the children and their families," Mr Seliger said.

"It's about making the child feel that they're able to cope with what they've got and making things fun for them".

Shiraz, a 16-year-old from Hod HaSharon, said the charity's help "gives you a moment to take a break from all the surgery, from the hospitals, and relax. They give you a life before you go back to the surgery."

At the dinner, presentations were made to young girls who donated their hair for wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy.

"The idea of little girls helping other little girls is an amazing concept," said Vanessa Feltz, who was among the guests. Ms Feltz also praised "the incredible selflessness" of the people involved in the charity.

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