Gina Walker

Hafsath and her son Arif

Volunteering at SACH, you meet a variety of remarkable people: brave and bright children, talented doctors and nurses, dedicated staff, as well as courageous and independent mothers and caregivers.

Children under the age of 5 are accompanied by a parent or guardian. This is usually their mother, so we refer to the mothers by ‘mama’ and then the name of the child. Some of the mamas speak great English and are eager to bond with and even look after the volunteers. In my time volunteering both part and full time at SACH, I made true friends in the mothers.

Arif came to Israel when he was about 1 year old. When I met him, he was just learning to walk. Him and Mama Arif, or Hafsath, who was then 25, were friends with everyone in the house. Arif was tiny yet vocal, with a loving and cheeky personality. He would crawl and walk around and climb into cupboards, loved to play with the TV remote, and often wanted to be picked up. Hafsath would dress him in lovely soft clothes and squeaky shoes.

Arif was particularly sick. It was a difficult decision whether or not to operate on him, since his chances of surviving the operation were only about 50:50. Hafsath bravely agreed to go through with the surgery, knowing this was her only chance to save her son.

When the news reached the house that the surgery was a success, everyone was delighted. It took a while to recover, yet Arif was soon back to his old mischievous self, with extra energy.

Hafsath and I would talk about Arif and SACH, as well as about life in general. We exchanged contact details and still communicate a year and a half later via Whatsapp. She sends me photos of a happy, healthy, grown-up and handsome Arif.

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