I was lucky enough to learn about Save a Child's Heart this summer by volunteering in Israel where children who benefit from this foundation are treated. What striked me the most was that this charity truly follows a no strings attached policy. Despite Israel's relations with the Middle East or various countries, there is no discrimination as to the origin of the children chosen for treament. Save a Child's Heart selflessly gives underprivelaged children a chance at having a healthy long life, and after witnessing this first hand I left with a new found inspiration to get involved and continue volunteering.
When I heard about Save a Child's Heart through friends, I knew it was something I needed to look into. After being in Israel for some time I realize that I have made a lot of big changes in my life this year but there are two things above all else that I am absolutely sure of. The first is that with every day I fall in love with Israel a little more. The second is that coming to volunteer my time at SACH has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life. From the moment I entered the Children's home for the first time I was in love. The children are thousands of miles away from home and have every reason in the world to be frightened and yet they are warm and welcoming. Minutes after I arrived there were games and hugs and laughs galore. Days went by and then weeks and I felt like I couldn’t get enough of these children. I started off volunteering twice a week and realized very soon that I was getting more from them than they were from me. I had to be here more, those two days weren’t enough. Even now being here four or five days a week seems like no time at all. The strength and perseverance of these children is astonishing. I had never felt such a fierce passion for a cause that I had been introduced to so abruptly. With other things going on around me, I noticed that I had renewed sense of gratitude in all aspects of my life. There is no greater feeling than to wake up in the morning and love how you are investing your time and effort. I didn’t just want to become more involved, I needed to. With the help of the wonderful staff, I was able to find an internship opportunity where I could help behind the scenes and contribute my efforts so that the opportunity for a long, healthy life would be a reality for more children.
I'll never forget the day that I had the opportunity to go with another volunteer and take two nurses from Zanzibar and Tanzania to Jerusalem. They told us that it was an experience that they believed would always be out of their reach. There were so many things in the beautiful city that they had never seen before. I had never seen two people so excited to be in an elevator. We walked around in the old city and visited Al Asq; as religious muslim woman it was an extremely emotional experience to be visiting to such a holy site. I was witnessing a life changing moment for them and I couldn't have been spending my time with two people who were more grateful. These women were away from their families, in a foreign country, caring for other people's children and yet they were elated. That day they bestowed upon me the great gift of tolerance. I have always considered myself an open-minded person but I was able to further indulge in the beautiful aspects of Islamic traditions from a respectful distance. I am certain that they will never forget their spiritual experience in Jerusalem and neither will I.
Before SACH, I don't think I truly understood how much a hug and a nice word could mean to another person. In a scary place full of unknowns, a familiar face is the greatest of all things, it surmounts any language barrier or difference in skin color, nationality, religion. Anything. A smile and a hug trumps all.
In particular there is one child that has touched my heart forever. Her name is Kadija, she is a beautiful 6-year old girl from Angola. I have never felt such a strong connection with a child as I do with her. This gorgeous girl has a glow about her; she has such passion and such a fiery spirit. Not only is she beautiful but she is perceptive and thoughtful. Before her surgery she was so expressive in her desire to be healthy. She was always letting me know when she would be going to the hospital, touching her chest and giving me a big smile and a thumbs up. If you don't find her learning a new language by mimicking everyone around her, she will most definitely be with the smaller children. Ever the facilitator, she will be starting games, comforting the crying toddlers. While I always had a special place for her, one afternoon I was getting ready to leave and she ran up to me, pulled me close to her and whispered, "thank you." Only when I believe that I couldn’t love the children anymore, they remind me why I invest so much time in SACH.
The children are leaving Israel with a healthy heart and I also feel like I leave here every day with a heart that is just a little stronger. My capacity to appreciate, love and empathize has grown infinite amounts. I can attribute this growth all to the beautiful children of Save a Child's Heart.
After working with SACH for about 4 months, I have realized that I now want to look into a masters program that focuses on International Public Health. This organization has truly changed my life forever. This organization is not only organized, but all of the staff work together as team and all actions and initiatives are transparent through the hardworking members of the SACH team.
There is no organization that has had a greater impact on my life as a future physician than Save a Childs Heart. We exist in a world where we strive for peace and understanding both in the middle east and around the world. At SACH children from all around the world, including many enemy states of Israel, are given world class cardiac care free of cost. Far greater than the life that is saved is the seed of compassion and love that is planted in the midst of chaos and hate. Jewish tradition teaches that to save one life is to save the world, there is nowhere where this is embodied more than Save a Childs Heart.
I have been involved at Save a Child's Heart for years now, as an employee turned biggest fan and advocate. I admire the organizations approach to leaving politics, race and boarders behind and treating each child with the love and care they deserve. They have changed the lives of so many - providing a second chance at life and a chance for a better future for entire communities.
From the second I learned about Save A Child's Heart (SACH) I knew I had found something that truly mattered to me. Since that time my love for the work done at SACH has only grown. SACH is an organization which brings children from developing countries all over the world to Israel for life saving, and FREE open heart surgery. Children from all over the world are saved by the tireless work done by the doctors who perform these operations with no monetary gain for themselves. The feeling of home and family seeps into every aspect of this organization. I feel truly blessed that it has become such an important aspect of my every day life.
Beyond saving children with little to no access to any healthcare, Save a Child's Heart is laying the foundation for saving thousands of lives in the decades to come. I cannot think of an organization with a more defined mission than Save a Child's Heart.
On one of my recent visits to Save a Child's Heart, I met Sara, a 5 year-old girl from El Salvador who suffered from congenial heart disease and had traveled half-way around the world to undergo surgery in Israel. She was there with her mother, but neither spoke English, and since I spoke Spanish I was one of the only people they were able to communicate with. I listed as Sarah's mom told the story of how Sarah struggled to run and play with the other kids in their small town, and how it was only when a doctor visiting for the weekly clinic happened to be a cardiologist and understand that Sarah needed heart surgery that she was brought to the capital, San Salvador, and from there able to go to Israel for the surgery she needed to save her life. I spent days playing with Sarah as she recovered from the surgery, and speaking her mom about their life back home and their experience in Israel. When Sarah's mom told me that she was so happy to see her daughter smiling and laughing and simply playing with the other kids, it melted my heart. I support SACH because it is totally dedicated to the idea that every child deserves the best medical treatment available, regardless of nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation. SACH does amazing things around the world - training doctors and nurses from developing countries in Israel and leading medical missions to partnering countries to improve the local expertise and build centers of competence. By mending the hearts of children, regardless of their origin, SACH is contributing to a better and more peaceful future for all
When one thinks of the Middle East the first image coming to mind is probably not a place where miracles happens on a daily base, where Israeli and Palestinian doctors work hand in hand to save children suffering from heart diseases.
Recently I discovered Save a Child Heart, this unique place where I heard the laugh of children from Gaza with an Israeli hospital clown, where the Palestinian veiled mother of a child recovering from the surgery has a warm conversation in Arabic with the Israeli doctor, where a child from Angola who arrived two days before between life and death is now in the arms of his mother, healthy.
A microcosm where politics and conflict seems so far that it is forgotten.
SACH is Israel's number one humanitarian organization, bringing children from all over the developing world to cure them of life-threatening congenial heart conditions, completely free of charge. SACH also serves their immediate community, offering screening service and medical care for the children of the Palestinian Territories. Seeking to fulfill their mission of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, SACH has repaired the hearts of over 3,000 children and will continue to do so with the help and support of people all across the world who believe in this amazing cause! The power of SACH to inspire others and save lives has made it one of the most important medical NGOs in the world today and has played an integral role in fostering peace and hope in a region stricken by war and hopelessness. Baruch Hashem for the doctors at SACH!