A home is defined as a place where someone permanently lives. It is seen as the place you eat, sleep and live with family. Yet, through my summer interning experience at Save a Child’s Heart Israel, I have learned that a home is much more than that. A home is not just a place, but it is also a feeling.
The SACH home is 9,267 kilometers away from my house in Toronto. When I first arrived in Israel I was somewhat overwhelmed at the prospect of living in a new country for two months. I was apprehensive about the internship ahead and whether I would be able to connect with children and their mothers because of the language barrier between us. I assumed that the children would be shy, making it difficult to establish a real and meaningful bond. My fears were immediately dispelled. On arrival, I was greeted by hordes of children wanting to play, sing and show me around their SACH home. Five-year-old Mary took me by the hand and sat me down to play cards with her newly made friends. Needless to say, I was quickly losing with only one card until elimination when Mary came to my rescue and handed me a few of her precious cards, allowing me to stay in the game. Mary’s simple gesture of kindness made me feel, for the first time since arriving in Israel, that I was home. It was remarkable to me that the simple actions of a young girl who had flown thousands of miles to an unknown country to undergo a life-saving heart surgery could have such an impact on my experience in Israel thus far.
Being based in the SACH house was a valuable experience because it allowed me to witness first-hand not only the children’s physical recovery but their emotional and social growth. On arrival, many of the children were very sick, some too sick to play like little children should, while others were shy, hiding behind their mothers, reluctant to interact with the volunteers and other children. Children are seen by doctors almost immediately and procedures and surgeries are scheduled as necessary. The recovery process is amazing to behold. Those once sickly and shy children transform into happy, smiling, fun-loving balls of energy, ready and willing to play with everyone.
One of my roles as an office intern was to interview and speak to the children and their mothers to learn more about their lives back home and their journey to SACH. I used this information coupled with my interaction with the children to write up personal profiles. It was an honor to be able to help share a snapshot of these children’s lives and personalities. Other roles included updating profiles, becoming a skilled photographer and assisting the marketing and Young Leadership departments. These opportunities have equipped me with valuable skills and have helped me to further my organizational, time management, and creative thinking skills.
My time at SACH has been invaluable, not only shaping me as a person but inspiring me to do more to help others in my day to day life. Save a Child’s Heart in Israel became my home and home is definitely where the heart is. I hope that this is the beginning of a long lasting connection.