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A leading Palestinian Brazilian doctor has received a prestigious civic award

March 14, 2022 at 12:21 pm

Dr Bacila Badwan at a protest in support of Palestine [Bacila Badwan]

A Brazilian councilwoman, Rosana Vargas, announced last week that a leading Palestinian Brazilian has been given the prestigious honour of being named as an Honorary Citizen of the Municipality of Santo Ângelo in Rio Grande do Sul State. The state is home to thousands of Palestinians in exile.

Dr Bacila Badwan was given the award at an official ceremony in the city council hall by the Mayor of the Municipality, Jacques Gonçalves Barbosa, for her outstanding contribution to the community in Brazil and her struggle to publicise the Palestinian cause. Badwan was among fourteen women who were given the title “Honorary Citizen of Santo Ângelo” at the ceremony.

“This award is a great honour, responsibility and commitment for my work in medicine and for my struggle to the Palestinian cause in my city,” Dr Badwan told me. “I have full support to hold events, marches and meetings, whatever I can, to bring out the truth about my people. I believe that together we can increase knowledge and fulfilment for the young people in Santo Ângelo, validating their national feelings and sense of Palestinian belonging.”

Bacila Badwan was born in Uruguaiana, in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul State. Her father is a Palestinian refugee who was driven out of his homeland during the 1948 Nakba. Following the destruction of his home, he and some of his brothers sought refuge in Brazil, while others went to the US. His story is one of millions of Palestinians still living in exile from the land that their families had farmed for generations. It illustrates the fact that Palestinian refugees are living examples of patience and, in many cases, success in the diaspora. Neither the trauma of exile nor the pain of their loss has broken their spirit. On the contrary, their collective experiences have made them stronger.

Bacila Badwan´s father with his family in Palestine

Bacila Badwan´s father with his family in Palestine [Bacila Badwan]

“As a daughter of a Palestinian refugee, I know exactly what it is to overcome all obstacles and to win,” explained Badwan. She has persevered and become a distinguished cardiologist in the city. She heads the Cruz de Lorena Women’s Rotary Club while serving the local community.

As a member of the Palestinian Arab Federation of Brazil (FEPAL), she has worked for more than 20 years to raise awareness about the situation in Palestine. “The Palestinian cause is in my heart, because I saw this love in my father´s eyes and heart. I know what it means to be a refugee from 1948,; I know the pain and suffering of the people who were torn from their roots by force. Unfortunately, this injustice and persecution continues to this day through the continuous violations of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

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Badwan works hard to expose the false narratives that the pro-Zionist media spreads as she reveals the truth about events in occupied Palestine. “I also try to make sure that every Palestinian does his or her duty to bring the truth to their community in the diaspora.” Many younger people don’t know that it is the Palestinians’ right to have self-determination, independence and sovereignty in their homeland.

Dr Bacila Badwan is one of a growing number of Palestinians who are successful not only in their chosen career, but also within their local communities across Brazil, despite the challenges and difficulties they face. Every generation inherits the yearning for success as they continue to seek a just peace that will provide for future generations in their homeland. That was always the certainty in their grandparents’ hearts, and it remains the case in Badwan’s today.

“I´m very happy to see that my efforts are appreciated,” she said of the prestigious award. “I dedicate myself to all those who had to leave their lands in 1948 and to the millions of Palestinian refugees around the world.”

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.