Saving children in Tanzania

Thousands of children are alive today because of a small group of medical professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to perform lifesaving cardiac surgery and train local medical personnel.

By DAFNA JACKSON
March 27, 2016 04:37
3 minute read.
SALUM ABDUL SALUMU, three, shows signs of recovery two days after his surgical procedure.

SALUM ABDUL SALUMU, three, shows signs of recovery two days after his surgical procedure.. (photo credit: DAFNA JACKSON)

 
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Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) in cooperation with the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, is an Israeli-based, international, non-profit organization. It is known worldwide for its commitment to saving lives by improving the quality of cardiac care for children from developing countries and creating centers of medical competence in these countries.

Thousands of children are alive today because of a small group of medical professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to perform lifesaving cardiac surgery and train local medical personnel. All children, regardless of race, religion, sex, color or financial status receive the best possible care that medicine has to offer. Since its establishment 20 years ago, SACH saved the lives of 4,000 childreon from 50 developing countries and trained more than 100 medical team members from these countries.

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After meeting the team here in Israel, hearing the stories of the kids and their families I decided to join SACH on its mission to Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) in Dar es Salaam in Tanzani earlier this month.

At that time I was going through a difficult and challenging time in my personal life, and a wise man told me that it is through giving that we enrich and perpetuate both our own lives and the lives of others.

I called my sister told her to pack her bag and off we went.

We arrived in Tanzania at night and as we got off the plane something in the air and the energy of the team told us that this is going to be an experience like no other.

Not a minute was wasted, the next morning the team started preforming surgeries and catheterizations, I was blown away by their devotion and dedication to each child and family – no mother or father leaves the room without a thorough explanation of their child’s status. Seeing the hope in their eyes is indescribable.

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Some of the families travel for days to come see the doctors and the medical team makes a point to see each and every one of them there were days that they worked from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. with a few very short breaks.

After watching an Israeli surgeon, an Ethiopian surgeon and a Tanzanian surgeon all together preforming surgery and speaking among themselves in Hebrew it suddenly struck me that this is the true meaning of Tikkun Olam - The Tanzanian surgeon, Dr. Godwin Godfrey, was trained by SACH at the Wolfson hospital for six years, and he is today the first, and only, pediatric cardiac surgeon in his country.

The Ethiopian surgeon, Dr. Yayu Kemonnen, is currently training by SACH at Wolfson and in three years time he will become Ethiopia’s first, and only, pediatric cardiac surgeon. The Israeli surgeon, Dr. Lior Sasson, trained both of them and during the mission he was working together with the two and observing them proudly.

They are making the world a better place not only by saving the lives of these children but by teaching others and “paying it forward” when a little boy or girl from Tanzania see that there doctor is from their own country they understand that they can also become surgeons one day – it makes it possible for them as well.

We spent hours playing with the children – some of them had never seen a crayon – talking to the parents understanding were they come from – it is a different world, the understanding that many of us are far more privileged than others initiated the desire to do more.

As an Israeli I am proud it shows the world who we truly are.

I feel fortunate and thank Morris Kahn for the opportunity that was given to me, Sharing this with my sister made it even more powerful.

I met outstanding people who inspired me and taught me the true meaning of life.

It feels funny writing this, but Save a Child’s Heart saved my heart.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

http://www.saveachildsheart.com/israel/

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