Volunteers from the United Hatzalah’s "Ten Kavod" (Giving Honor) project brought 81-year-old Holocaust survivor Mina Kozlanko, who is homebound due to illness, to the beautiful beaches of Ashod for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Kozlanko – who would often tell the Ten Kavod volunteer assigned to her, Oksana Standik-Segel, that she longs to see the sea after so many years – was treated to a surprise visit orchestrated by Oksana and other members of the program.
"You have not only taken care of my health all this time, but today I truly feel like I have been reborn,” said Kozlanko. “I am at a loss for words – thank you."
Homebound Holocaust survivors
Kozlanko was born in Moldova and moved to Russia with her family at the beginning of World War II. Then a small child, Kozlanko lost her mother and brothers in the Holocaust and lived in an attic throughout the war in order to survive.
She has been homebound since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as her pre-existing illnesses make outings a challenge.
Ten Kavod is a project initiated by United Hatzalah that focuses on providing preventative health care and support to elderly individuals and Holocaust survivors like Kozlanko throughout Israel. The organization sends medically trained volunteers to visit affected senior citizens at least once a week in order to provide them with free medical check-ups and spend time with them to alleviate their loneliness.
“The project works to prevent the all-too-common instances United Hatzalah faces when encountering impoverished senior citizens who are unable to contend with the routine reality, who are suffering declining health conditions and even, at times, when reaching these citizens when it is already too late,” Ten Kavod declares on their website.
Ten Kavod and their dedicated volunteers, like Oksana, made the excursion possible for Kozlanko.
"Mina, like so many other senior citizens, has always been averse to feeling like she is a burden on others… Building a deeper connection beyond just medical check-ups took us time and effort,” Oksana explained. “But as our bond grew stronger over time, she finally felt comfortable opening up to me. She shared her longing to see the sea, even though she hasn't left her house in more than three years.”
“Through our genuine relationship and the kindheartedness of the volunteers of the organization, we were able to make her dream come true," said Oksana.
Lauren Chedva Shatrit, the coordinator of Ten Kavod in the Heval Sorek area, praised the program's multiple benefits to neglected elderly communities across the country.
"Since we established the Ten Kavod project in the area, we have been able to support dozens of elderly people and Holocaust survivors every day," Shatrit said. "Our dedicated volunteers provide them with free medical check-ups and spend at least an hour a week with them, helping to alleviate their sense of loneliness."
"To many of them, our volunteers have become like a surrogate family and as a result, their medical conditions improve and they no longer feel as lonely as before," Shatrit concluded.