Sunday, October 24th | 18 Heshvan 5782

May 10, 2019 7:56 am

The Real Israel: Loving, Giving and Charitable

avatar by Sarah Saide


IsraAID teams respond to Typhoon Mangkhut in September 2018. Photo: IsraAID.

In a massive world of nearly 200 countries, there is a small country made up of only 8.5 million people — a mere 0.1% of the world’s population. A small country with a heart so big that you can hear it beat. 

This country provides care to children of all nationalities with heart disease, is the first at the scene when natural disasters strike in foreign countries, and assists people worldwide to recover from any extreme crisis they face. 

This country is Israel.

Humanitarian aid is one of the strongest Israeli values, and the country showcases this through the plethora of organizations and agencies created and set aside to help others.

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Since 1995, Israeli doctors from Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) have been treating children from around the world, including from the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Jordan, and other Arab nations with free, life-saving heart operations. To date, SACH has saved the lives of more than 5,000 children.

Based in Israel and located in Holon, Save a Child’s Heart was founded in 1995 at the Wolfson Medical CenterSACH is an international non-profit organization that also improves the quality of cardiac care for children in developing countries by conducting life-saving heart surgeries and intensive follow-up care.

Take, for example, Darin, a 6-year-old from the West Bank, who was admitted to the Wolfson Medical Center for her congenital heart disease. In December 2017, Darin had life-saving heart surgery, and in January 2018, she had a cardiac catheterization. Another child of the many that SACH has helped is Nouman, a 4-year-old boy from Zanzibar. He came to SACH for treatment of his congenital heart disease in October 2018. In November 2018, Nouman also had life-saving heart surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center.

On a larger scale, IsraAID is an Israel-based international NGO that was founded in 2011. Quite often, Israel arrives at the scene of countries that have faced natural disasters, equipped with innovative and high-quality programs to provide relief, according to the population’s needs. IsraAID is often a leading part of these efforts.

IsraAID’s vision is “to build a world in which individuals, communities, and institutions have the resilience to navigate today’s crises, withstand tomorrow’s, and live sustainably.” To date, IsraAID has worked in 47 countries.

On November 8, 2013, the Philippines was devastated by one of the most powerful typhoons in modern time; it killed more than 6,000 people and injured more than 27,000 others — and 48 hours later, IsraAID’s first emergency team left for the Philippines. Once there, they spent the first three days supporting local health workers in an extremely damaged hospital, before heading to Ormoc to set up permanent operations.

Similarly, one week after Hurricane Maria, IsraAID arrived in Puerto Rico with a Spanish-speaking team of medical and psychological support professionals, as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene experts. After assessing the island’s needs, Israel implemented emergency relief programs that included water filter and food distribution, medical assistance, and psychological support. 

Separate from charity groups and NGOs, the Israeli government launched MASHAV in 1957, in order to allow Israel to share its cutting edge technologies with the developing world.

MASHAV, the Hebrew acronym for Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, has trained around 270,000 professionals from approximately 132 countries– both in Israel and abroad. Poverty alleviation, provision of food security, empowerment of women, and upgrades of basic health and education services are many of MASHAV’s accomplishments.

Amongst its many missions, following severe floods that hit Myanmar in August 2018, Israel — through MASHAV and its embassy in Myanmar — offered assistance to the affected communities. Israel also provided Myanmar with water purifiers, water tanks, and rice.

Additionally, in June 2018, over 100 people were killed following the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala. Dangerous flows of ash, rocks, and toxic gases caused thousands of locals to evacuate. MASHAV and the Israeli embassy staff organized and delivered immediate humanitarian assistance following this devastating crisis.

From single children to whole countries, the state of Israel is the first on the scene to provide care and assistance for suffering communities. As a country, Israel recognizes the beauty of its duty to shine light and concern upon those who are not as fortunate.

We may be one earth. We may be 7.5 billion people. But, above all, we are one human nation — one human nation with a collective responsibility to each other. A responsibility to help, care for, and love one another. This is a responsibility that Israel embodies in every aspect. Because at the end of it all, what is a life if it is lived selfishly?

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