When I made my way towards the Save a Child’s Heart house on the first day I was more than nervous. It was weird dropping myself into these people’s lives. They already had their routine and system. They knew who everyone was and had a common language. I, instead, was the outsider. I came in with the purpose to help and make a difference, but on that first day I wondered if I’d even be able to communicate.
As time continued I realized that communication was not an issue. These kids were super smart and even if English was not their first language, they found ways to communicate what they were feeling. The moms, too, knew how to relay their information be it through hand movements or words. But most importantly as time went on my goals drastically changed – I wasn’t there to make a difference, I was there to be present. These kids and mothers already had doctors and sponsors who had saved their life, I wasn’t there to work another miracle, but I was there to help the miracles that were already made to run smoothly. Sometimes the kids needed to get energy out, and sometimes the moms needed a break. I was there to help provide them with this rest or play, and make sure everyone was all right. Just being there with the kids was life altering. Watching their resilience and determination was inspiring. I hope everyone gets an opportunity to see these children as I saw them and to experience their incredible attitude.
Before starting at SACH I felt that two weeks would be such a long time. I thought about how busy I would be and how well I would get to know each of the kids. Little did I know, or consider, that two weeks can occur in the blink of an eye. Yes, I was busy, and yes, I really did get to know the children, but at the end I was not near ready to leave. I started to realize how difficult this was going to be about three days before my last. I felt the emotions in my chest, and the sadness that came with acknowledging I would have to say goodbye. I found myself buying all of the kids presents because I wanted them to have things to take home and to remember. I knew that even though I had only been there two weeks, I would never forget.
The day I had to say goodbye was extremely hard. I did not want to go, but part of me saw it as a bandaid: the faster I tore it off, the less it would hurt. As I went around hugging goodbyes and wishing good luck I felt tears come into my eyes. It was a lot of mixed emotions happening in my head. I was so sad to say goodbye, but I also felt selfish. I was able to leave. I was healthy enough to come to Israel and volunteer. Yes, I was going to miss these kids, but I should be happy for them and for the fact that they soon too would be leaving and returning home.
I still think about these kids on a regular basis. I wonder what they are doing, where they are, and how they are. I hope that they are playing and running and laughing. I hope they are getting into safe mischief as any child should, and that they are living life to its fullest. I truly hope one day to be able to return to SACH not only for two weeks and to help in its journey to save these kids. I also hope one day to see the children I met succeed, and live full long lives. You never know, when I make it back to SACH maybe one of my patients will be there as well, but in a role as my counterpart as many said they wanted to do.