I don’t remember the first time that I was introduced to the teaching that saving one life is like saving an entire world. No matter when, I do remember that the perplexing notion that a single part could be as significant as the whole left me wondering. In trying to extract truth from sentiment, I concentrated hard on my own experience. And what I noticed was that, indeed, family and friends serve as real-life lifelines. That is, without each of them certain worlds inside of me don’t quite exist. This identification is to be expected, even taken for granted, as we are rarely confronted with its implications head on so as to come to notice it as a pervasive truth.
When you visit SACH what is perhaps most clear is that the children there need surgery in order to survive – it is essentially, life-saving. Therefore, in contradistinction to our own familiar process of identification, which happens at a certain level of the subconscious, we are struck by the fragility and immediacy of the need. It’s no surprise that we are moved to help or that everyone who walks through the doors of the SACH children’s home is taken by the same realization and confronted with a similar motivation.
Indeed it is well documented that givers are more likely to want to provide for a single child in need than to a community of needers. Of course, in the case of congenital heart disease, there are millions of needers around the world. The work of Save a Child’s Heart is therefore, to save the children we can, to draw attention to this global health issue at large, and to train doctors to maximize our impact. This work will never be complete.
I am so proud to be a part of this organization, in a role that helps individuals utilize their unique creativity and sense of purpose for a global mission. Day to day, I try to communicate the vivacity and tenacity of SACH kids to our US volunteer fundraisers and supporters, not just as a source of inspiration, but as a model for how the individual can make a difference in the world. If SACH didn’t truly believe that, we wouldn’t be doing the work we do.
This brings me back to the notion that saving one life is like saving an entire world. The doctors and nurses at the Wolfson Medical Center are certainly saving worlds, by performing surgery on children that would otherwise not live until their next birthdays. But I’m convinced, that perhaps unlike any other humanitarian effort in the world, SACH doesn’t just save worlds, it creates one.
What I experienced at the children’s home while at play with the children, in conversation with the volunteers and in gesticulated exchanges with the mothers, aunts and guardians, was an entire world unto itself in which the lines of language, race, religion and ethnicity completely blur. If it sounds idyllic, that’s because it is. Filled to the brim with spirit and love, this place serves as microcosm—literally, a ‘little world’—that presents what this kind of work can achieve and whose ethos echoes far beyond the place.