(photo credit: Alex Libak)
An Israeli radio station owner helped oversee the delivery of four new dialysis
machines donated by the Israeli government and private Israeli donors to Sierra
Leone last month.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Monday shortly after
arriving back in Israel from the cash-strapped and war-torn west African nation,
David Ben-Basat spoke of how he believes the new medical hardware should help
the west African country, where he said health services are sorely beneath the
standard of Israel.
“Their health services are very, very weak and I
believe that a donation like this can help them and also help encourage better
diplomatic relations between Sierra Leone and Israel,” said the owner of Radio
100 FM, Russian-language radio Pervoye 89.1 FM and leading Mizrachi music
channel “Radio Lev Hamedina.”
He added that each machine also required
the donation of water purifying systems, medicine and a great deal of training
for the teams who will operate them.
During a visit to the country last
year, Ben-Basat said that the first lady of Sierra Leone, Sia Nyama Koroma,
told him that her country is lacking the medical machines, and that he then
seized on the opportunity to do a little dialysis diplomacy between the State of
Israel and the African nation.
Altogether Ben-Basat said he was able to
oversee the delivery of four dialysis systems to Sierra Leone, two of which were
supplied by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Ben-Basat said he was able to raise
the money for the other two from private donors.
Ben-Basat, who has also
served as the chairman of the Regional Radio Association for the past 12 years,
also described how he became the honorary consul of Sierra Leone in Israel
following a short trip to visit a friend and Israeli businessman living in the
country in January 2011.
During the visit, Ben-Basat was a guest at a
meeting with his friend and the foreign minister and vice president of Sierra
Leone, as well as the president of the West African country, Ernest Bai
“We made a connection,” Ben-Basat said, and before long, like a
good radio promoter, he was able to convince the Sierra Leone leaders that he
would be the perfect go-between for Jerusalem and Freetown.
said his diplomatic responsibilities mainly consist of arranging visas for
Israelis looking to visit Sierra Leone. He also works as the honorary consul of
the tiny Micronesian country of Nauru, but it is clear from speaking to him that
his work with Sierra Leone holds a special place in his heart.
much love Israel in Sierra Leone,” Ben-Basat said, adding that there will be an
official state visit by the Sierra Leone president in June, which he said was a
Last week a group of doctors from Sierra Leone returned home after
spending over a month at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba learning how to
operate the machines.
This week, a group of Israeli doctors made their
way to Sierra Leone as well, where they will help oversee the operations of the
machines at Connaught Hospital in Freetown.
According to Ben-Basat, the
machines have already helped save the life of 10-year-old girl suffering from
“They were very excited by everything. They wrote about
it in the local papers, the local TV, all printed about it in the local papers,
all of the government came together to see it,” Ben- Basat said, adding,
somewhat immodestly, that he is confident he has single-handedly improved
Israel-Sierra Leone relations.