May 14 Sarah Michaels

By May 16, 2015Birthright 2015

Yesterday was a day I wasn’t expecting to have. Our Israelis had left, which felt like we were losing some of our family. We definitely made friends for life, an extended family. After, we went to a charity called Save a Child’s Heart, or SACH. It’s a charity meant to help children with heart diseases or defects from poorer countries get the proper treatment needed, usually surgery. The man who started the charity was a cardiac surgeon originally from the states and started the long adventure in 1995 when he immigrated to Israel. He performed a surgery on a child who was in need of it but couldn’t get the funding. Since then they have taken in about 250 children each year. They showed a video that made me want to cry because most of these children who need the surgery are just so young and helpless. They haven’t even started their lives yet and they have a disease or defect. The lady giving the presentation said that a lot of the children with these diseases or defects usually don’t make it past a year. If they do, it’s a miracle.

SACH has been training doctors from these countries to become pediatric cardiac surgeons so that they are able perform these surgeries in their countries, especially when it’s most needed. They use a nearby hospital for these surgeries in which cardiac surgeons volunteer their time to perform these surgeries. Then they brought some of the children out to meet us and you could just see this light in their eyes. They are just children but they have to do something so strong and terrifying that it really put life into perspective. They also offer volunteer programs which I am definitely interested in. Something about going there really solidified that I want to work with children.

After such a heavy moment, we drove for two hours, only making one bathroom stop and not on the side of the road, to the desert. I had never been to a desert before so it was an eye opening experience. At first it looked like the rest of the mountains, but instead of big beautiful trees, there were bushes and smaller trees. Unfortunately I didn’t see any cacti. When we first to the camp we were staying in, there was a huge sign that read “Taglit Village.” I kind of laughed at the thought mainly because almost every place we have gone said something about Taglit, either saying that they loved Taglit or they would give us a discount. So we went into the camp and went straight for a camel ride. All the camels were lined up ready for our pictures. One was even rolling around in the dust, clearly not wanting to to get up. Everyone rode two per camel, so the first two who got on their camel must have made the camel angry because the camel started screaming and showing its teeth. They immediately got off the camel and the camel was taken back to its stables. I swear I saw that camel smiling. My camel riding partner, Lauren, and I got onto out camel. Now camel riding is like an art, the two people have to get on the camel at the same exact time or the camel will get up without you. But once we got up onto our camels and camel rose, the desert began to shine. We got there just around sunset, so every color possible was bursting from the sand dunes. You have to see it for yourself. It was a short camel ride but it is something I will never forget. They are such beautifully odd creatures.

Once our ride was over we ate dinner, which was delicious. There was so much food it was crazy. We didn’t know what to do with it. After dinner we had a little bit of time to hang out and get ready for an adventure into the desert. They told us not to bring our phones or any flashlights, when we got out there I understood why. We were told to kind of walk out into the desert by ourselves and just be away from everyone, being with ourselves. I decided to lay down in the sand and just stare at the sky. It was the first time in a long time I had seen all the stars, illuminating through the darkness. It was honestly the most spiritual part of this trip for me, probably because nature is what I can relate to the most, it just has a special place in my heart. Something like that is an experience you can’t really get in the states unless you travel across the country. I guess it took me to travel halfway across the world to see something like that, and sometimes that’s what it takes to really feel something.

Author Dan Leshem

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