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Review for Save a Childs Heart Foundation US, Inc., Potomac, MD, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

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.

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Role:  Volunteer