Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist
(Project C.U.R.E. never ships medical goods into any foreign country unless we have personally gone there and completed an intensive needs assessment study on that particular hospital or clinic. Additionally, we never go anyplace unless we are invited. This is a good example of how we determine where we will go and what we will provide. Shaul Amir has become a very dear friend over the past twenty years and we have shipped, and continue to ship, millions of dollars of donated medical goods into Israel.)
Israel: March, 1995: Why would Project C.U.R.E. go to Israel? It really isn’t a typical third-world country as you would think of third-world countries. It is very westernized, and the people enjoy a relatively high standard of living. Compared to many of the other countries Project C.U.R.E. helps, Israel didn’t need us at all. They should have been helping Project C.U.R.E. help other countries that really need our help.
Those thoughts, and many others similar in nature, had been running through my mind as I prepared for this trip. The background of this trip and my involvement had been rather unusual.
About three years earlier, a woman by the name of Judi Fenner had come to me, along with her attorney and one of her organization’s board members, seeking some advice on taking her ministry international. Aside from her proposed ministry, she teaches private tennis lessons to earn a living. Apparently she is very successful at her tennis coaching and has in her stable of competitive young stars quite a number of kids from Denver’s Jewish community. The Jewish community loves her. She is developing their kids, mostly in their late teens and early twenties, into champions.
Following a very successful tournament, one of the Jewish families threw a victory party. For some reason Judi Fenner and another woman named Beverly Ratalia invited, no, insisted that Anna Marie and I come join them.
As a result of that party, I met Shaul Amir, who was visiting the US from Israel. Shaul is the resource development director for the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tel Aviv and is responsible for funding and developing the institution. Beverly and Judi had told Shaul all about Project C.U.R.E. and about our mission to collect and distribute medical supplies and equipment throughout the world.
My first official meeting with Shaul was filled with enough craziness as to be unforgettable. The woman who was managing his itinerary during his Denver stay arranged with Shaul for a meeting with me at the Friends of Israel office in Denver for Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. However, she informed me that the meeting would take place on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. So my son Jay and I showed up for the meeting … and stood around, stood around, and stood around waiting for someone to show up at the reception area of the office. No one showed.
I was just wandering down the hallway, trying to find someone to whom we could convey our growing impatience, when I heard someone down the hallway. Jay and I looked at each other and headed into a small back office. The man in the office was so startled by our appearance that he jumped up from the table where he was working and headed toward us. He was working at a word-processing machine, which was sitting on a makeshift desk, with the electric cord stretched across from the table to a wall outlet across the room. The cord was short, so when it was plugged into the socket, there was not enough cord to lay on the floor. It made a perfect booby-trap trip wire.
As the man was extending his hand and opening his mouth, saying that his name was Shaul, his foot got all caught up in the electric cord. Before the entire word Shaul got out of his mouth, keyboard and monitor, papers and books went flying everywhere. A less agile fellow would have sprawled out on the floor in the midst of all the mess. That certainly took the starch out of the introduction. I told Shaul who Jay and I were while we helped him pick up the broken pieces of the processor. “But … but … you were supposed to be here yesterday at 2:30 for our meeting. We were all here waiting for you.”
I pulled out my note from the woman and showed him the scheduled meeting in my appointment book. As far as I knew the meeting was on Thursday.
We quickly brushed past that foible and moved on to a very productive meeting—probably, because of the crazy circumstances, it was a better meeting than we would have had the day before in a more sane setting.
Shaul explained that his hospital was in a very desperate situation. They were treating a lot of refugees on a gratis basis. Supplies were short, and equipment was either lacking or terribly outdated. Would Project C.U.R.E. help? He also told of the phenomenon of Israelis and PLO personnel working side by side at his hospital.
I explained the requirement that I personally visit an institution to do a thorough Needs Assessment Study before Project C.U.R.E would ship any goods. And I asked him if he had any friends in the Denver Jewish community who would be able to underwrite the expenses of such a study trip. He said he was quite sure he did not but wanted to visit Project C.U.R.E.’s facilities while he was still in town.
At the warehouse Shaul began smacking his lips at the sight of our available inventory. He quickly spotted enough pieces of equipment and disposable supplies to easily fill a twenty-foot cargo container. Now he really wanted Project C.U.R.E. to help.
Before Shaul returned to Israel, Beverly Ratalia had him scheduled on a Christian radio talk show. The talk-show host had a history of trying to help develop aid to hurting areas of Israel. In the course of the show, the subject of Project C.U.R.E. and the possibility of their helping Shaul’s hospital came up. The show host pledged the first two hundred dollars toward raising the needed money for the needs assessment trip.
I had told Shaul that both Jay and I would come to Israel, and if he could raise the needed money for one of the airfares, I would match the donation from somewhere and cover the cost of the other airfare. So Shaul needed to raise $1,400. Before the talk show went off the air, listeners had agreed to underwrite exactly $1,400 for the airfare. I thought to myself, That didn’t even come from the Jewish community. This whole effort was an endeavor of love from the Christian community to the people living in Israel.
Even while I was traveling in Russia the week prior to this trip, I found myself looking forward to the Israel trip. It was going to be delightful having Jay, my son and father of my two fabulous grandkids, traveling with me. A little over a year before, Jay traveled with me to Brazil. That trip became a turning point in his life in many ways. Perhaps this trip, in different ways, would be equally significant.
© Dr. James W. Jackson
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."
As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson.