Israel’s Gift to Africa, the West Bank and Gaza

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Israel’s Gift to Africa, the West Bank and Gaza

At Save A Child's Heart they train medical team members and cardiologists from 150 countries to save the lives of their own children

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Dr Lise Mumporeze and Dr Mohammed training at Save A Child's Heart
Dr Lise Mumporeze and Dr Mohammed training at Save A Child's Heart

Our daughter was on FZY’s Israel Tour this summer. It was her trip that brought us to Tel Aviv. While she travelled the country, we stayed in the city, eagerly awaiting the weekly photo updates. She called us too.  Sometimes moaning – “Why did we have to climb a rock to see where 960 Jews killed themselves?” (Masada) – “Do Syrian hyenas bite?” (camping in the Negev) but more often than not she was exhilarated. Her visit to Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) made such an impression she insisted on taking us there.

When the children saw Madison they remembered her from the FZY visit

The taxi ride to Holon is no distance from Tel Aviv, but it’s a million miles from the life we take for granted because of what happens there. In the Legacy Heritage Children’s Home, a group of children played in the garden. When they saw our daughter, they ran to her and remained by her side . This is where the children live before and after the life-saving heart procedures they receive in Israel, and there’s room for up to 60, as well as mothers, nurses and medical interns, who come from across the world to study then take home the expertise.

At a table in the sunny room, doctors Lise Mumporeze and Gerard Misago from Rwanda are working with doctors Musa Kalembe Lwara and Zachias Moonde Muulu from Zambia. Sponsored by foundations in Canada, Australia and anonymous donors, there were also two paediatric doctors from the West Bank. Dr Muulu, a paediatric cardiac surgeon, is keen to expand his knowledge and the available care in Zambia. “There are lots of children with heart problems, but not enough doctors,” he says. “We have only three in the country.”

Medical practitioners from Zambia and Rwanda

“That’s why we are training,” laughs Dr Mumporeze, who was confused by the British reaction to her country hosting the UK’s immigrants. “I know more needs to be done with Rwanda’s human resources, but regarding safety, security and life in general, it is a good place to be.”

Asked how they feel about Israel, the doctors all agreed with Dr Muulu. “It feels like home,” he said, which is how it seemed for the mothers preparing meals for their children in the communal kitchen. “They buy ingredients to prepare dishes their children eat at home. It’s a home away from home,” explains SACH deputy director Tamar Shapira, as the children gather for lunch. Some are just babes in arms awaiting surgery; others have scars down their chests and lift their tops to proudly show them.

A mum from Zambia prepares home cooking for her child

In countries where paediatric care is non-existent, parents who travel with offspring are anxious, but settle in time as they know what’s at stake. For the young ones who come alone – and many do – there is love from demonstrative staff and volunteers.

A whiteboard has the names and countries of the children currently being treated and among them are the West Bank and Gaza. Tamar mentions that a child of a Hamas leader has been treated at SACH, just another of the 6,600 children from 69 countries whose lives have been saved in Holon. The medical work of Save a Child’s Heart is carried out at the Wolfson Medical Center by Israeli team members who volunteer their time to help.

In the taxi back to Tel Aviv, an anti-government protest slows traffic. There had been many since we arrived in Israel, as well as endless talks with those on both sides. But we had just witnessed another side to Israel. A side that has saved the lives of more than 6,600 children from 69 countries and benefited 150 healthcare professionals who, since training at SACH, created centres of excellence in their home countries. It’s a lot to think about in a country with so much happening and so much to enjoy, particularly in Tel Aviv. The side of Israel that is full of heart is the one I want to remember.



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