My name is Paula Ohmle, I am a 19-year-old girl from Germany and I worked as a part-time volunteer at the SACH house in Holon, Israel.
Through volunteering, I was able to gain incredible experiences, much love, and learn a lot. I'm going to report a little bit about this time in the following lines. Starting with this; I had come to Tel Aviv, Israel as a volunteer with the Red Cross to complete my voluntary service for one year at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. But since I wanted to experience more than the daily hospital routine, traveling through Israel and living far away from my family, I sought out an opportunity to gain more local experience and do something meaningful. I decided to continue working with another non-profit organization.
So I started to look for volunteering activities in the surrounding area of Tel Aviv and that’s how I encountered SACH. The project has fascinated me from the beginning and I wanted to participate and contribute. A few days later I began my journey. My first day at SACH was marvelous, the children are more than lovely. No matter what we did together - dance, play, paint, joke, sing - we always had a lot of fun!
I always felt that the most important part for the children was to be treated like a normal child, to have a space where they don’t have to worry about being slowed down by their disease and be treated like normal kids. That’s the way it should be; We have the capacity to help children around the world, but it doesn’t reach those who really need it, like our children from Tanzania, Congo, Ethiopia, Gaza, etc..
In my opinion, SACH takes a big step in the right direction. There are children around the world who need help and SACH is giving them the opportunity to lead a healthy life and a future to live without illness and restrictions regardless of educational status or financial assets of their parents, origin, religion or sex. It is a question about life or death and SACH is answering with "life.“
So I went to SACH for several months 1-2 times a week and fell in love with my tasks, like laughing and playing, as a part-time volunteer. Of course, everything had to be measured and in moderation, as the children were either shortly after or before their big life-saving procedures. Nevertheless, we tried to make their stay in the house as normal as possible, because as if it were not already exhausting and difficult enough to have an operation on the heart, the children were also in a foreign country partly without their family and parents. We, the volunteers and staff are their family for this time, all from different countries, with different languages and cultures. But are words needed if you can laugh together? It was not always easy to build relationships with the children, because they were frightened or simply shy, but with a lot of persistence and not being afraid to make a fool of yourself, you could make a child laugh once and when this laugh flashed on the little face and the eyes lit up it produced the simple feeling of happiness. As volunteers, we give the children and their families a platform of understanding and normality in contrast to the daily hospital life.
I have met so incredibly people-the children from various countries, their parents, nurses, the other workers and volunteers- all, from young to old, work together and show one another how to make the best out of the time we share.
One of the greatest lessons I learned was that while I have the fortune to live a beautiful life inside a so-called bubble, outside the bubble it is not always as beautiful. Becoming aware of this is one thing, but actively dealing with the consequences of this reality is another. I realized that access to healthcare is a scarce commodity, which does not reach the majority of the world’s population. It is hard to see and hear how people live a few thousand km away from us suffer. Projects like SACH and the work of volunteers make the life of these wonderful, kind-hearted people, a little bit better.
SACH creates bridges, possibilities, friendships on a new level The time I spent with the children and their family, no matter how tired I was after 9 hours in the hospital, was always the best time of the day because I got so much love, so much experience and so much gratitude. Giving is the most beautiful thing in the world.
If the children have thought me one thing it's that you're never too small to be great!