For the next two days, Career Israel has chosen a few places for us to volunteer after ulpan. Today I went to a place called Save A Child’s Heart. It was one of the most moving and awesome places I have ever been. Save A Child’s Heart is a non-profit organization that brings children, ages 0-18, from developing countries to Israel for heart surgeries. The children that come usually are not even aware that they have a heart condition until the last minute when they are finally able to go to a free clinic to get a check up.
The Save A Child’s Heart house is a place where the kids and a parent (or in some cases a nurse who brings multiple kids) can stay before the surgery and for no less than one month after. They provide food, housing, daily activities, and other basic needs to the patients that stay there. Through private funding, the organization is able to provide a variety of heart surgeries for a VERY small amount. Operations that would cost $10,000-$30,000 only cost $3000 thanks to donations of surgeons from the Wolfson Medical Center time.
As soon as we arrived, we sat in the living room and learned about the organization through a speaker and video. As we sat there, the patients began waking upfrom their naps and coming downstairs. One little boy named Anthony walked right over to a guy from my program’s lap and sat down without saying anything. It was adorable. Finally the presentation was over and we got to start hangingout with the kids.
There were about 8 kids that came to play with us, although currently 12 are in the house. Happiness was from Ethiopia and couldn’t be more than a year old. He was thankfully going home later that day! A little girl from China, who was about 7 or8, was at the house for the second time getting a follow up surgery after being there when she was 7th months old. Anthony, everyone’s favorite, was from Kenya and I was able to sit with his mom for a little and talk about my experiences there, which was awesome. Another favorite, a little girl from South America, was about two years old and a little flirt. She was all about two or three. There were four kids from Zambia between the ages 8-14. I hung out with them the most.
The boys all really liked basketball so we played with the net and soft-ball that they had in the backyard. Unfortunately the net didn’t have a backboard and the kids were having a hard time making a shot. Luckily at that moment my creative juices were flowing and I found a square basket and some rope and made a make-shift backboard by tying the basket, bottom towards the basket, to the net. It worked like a gem!
I had an amazing time at Save A Child’ Heart and I am hoping to go back a few times while I am here. If you are reading this blog and are interested in A) learning more, B) donating, or C) all of the above