Rules! Usually beneficial but sometimes to the disadvantage of those they are attempting to help. Overriding them. Impossible! Impossible unless a caring, creative entity comes on the scene.
A family in Tzefas – all corona patients. During their illness, the small daughter suffered third-degree burns. She was hospitalized and her condition was serious and worsening. The child? Alone in a strange, frightening environment without the emotional support of Mommy. The parents? Terrified and unable to visit their precious daughter. The emotional torment was agonizing. They knew that a mother’s touch was a powerful medication to recovery. Yet there were those normally beneficial but now so frustrating rules. They called Ezer Mizion, “There’s probably nothing you can do but we don’t know where else to turn …”
Moshe Leon, the Mayor of Jerusalem whose vaccination has reached the effective stage, expressed his interest in seeing the work of the staff in Hadassah Hospital from up close. The staff was at that time tremendously overloaded caring for more than 130 Corona patients, most of them serious and complex cases and some of them in critical condition, on mechanical ventilation.
Deeply ingrained in the Ezer Mizion volunteer is to ‘be there’ both practically and in spirit with the needs of those suffering from life’s crises. It may be sharing tears when the prognosis is not good or it may be sharing smiles at a festive party like that which took place recently with Ofri who celebrated her last treatment, Note her grin. Doesn’t it say it all!
We can say it in numbers. 650,000 hot meals for family of seriously ill. 80,000 medical equipment loans. 4400 special needs children. Big numbers. Impressive, aren’t they? Or we can say it in people. Real people. People with feelings. People who cry.
People like the mother who had been looking forward to a delightful reunion with her family after birth until corona cancelled her plans. Diagnosis: positive. Tremendous tension. Will she be ok? Will she be able to care of the newborn? Will the newborn be ok? Quarantine. For the whole family. No preparations. No family to take her home. No exuberant welcome. No gleeful hodgepodge of a welcome-home supper put together by small, eager hands. No anticipation of Mommy soon taking over the kitchen providing that homey security that only mommies can do. No joy. Just anxiety, stress and worry. And then… on the heels of her entry – a warm delivery of 10 falafel portions. A message of caring and support for the difficult days to come. And the sun began to shine.
They came regularly with a burning desire to help, almost never missing their scheduled day. It was not honor that pushed them to don hot, uncomfortable ‘spacesuits’ and go from bed to bed dispensing compassion that would bring a rare smile to the face of their patients. For some it was dialing the phone number of a family member so that they could hear the voice of a loved one. For others a drink when they had lain there for hours unable to procure a glass of water or perhaps it was a delivery of goodies baked especially for the patient by a loving daughter. Or silently holding the hand of a patient on a ventilator. And for too many, it was saying Shma and Vidui as their neshomos ascended with no family member able to be there.
It was not honor that drove these dedicated Ezer Mizion volunteers but now, as the situation eases, it was others who felt a powerful desire to honor them, to acknowledge the impact of the Ezer Mizion volunteers on the national disaster.
Rabbi Chollak , Founder of Ezer Mizion together with the Ezer Mizion senior staff members and branch directors were invited to the Knesset for a ceremony and national recognition with MK Moshe Gafni chairman of the Knesset’s financial committee. Yisrael Yeret, director of the Ezer Mizion Jerusalem branch and Moshe Hillel the activity coordinator were honored with a certificate for their selfless devotion, caring and professionalism during the Covid crisis, assisting all those in need throughout the pandemic.
Another prestigious ceremony was held at the Asaf Harofeh hospital in Beer Yaakov. During the thick of corona, Ezer Mizion worked alongside hospitals across the country recruiting and training people that had recovered from covid to assist in the corona wards with whatever necessary to ease the workload of the nurses and medical staff. Even such basics as feeding patients and bringing drinks could not be handled by the overloaded staff. The Ezer Mizion volunteers literally saved lives.
Readers may recall the daughter of an elderly corona patient who was unable to leave Romania to be there for her father due to covid restrictions. A walker for her father– what would normally be a simple request – became a major undertaking and it was only after many, many calls back and forth from Romania to Israel and to various departments at the hospital and at Ezer Mizion that Devorah, director at Ezer Mizion , was able to procure one. The daughter was ecstatic and couldn’t stop thanking Ezer Mizion. But her joy was short-lived.
Corona Innovation: Ezer Mizion will be providing nursing caregivers for elderly quarantined and corona patients.Caregivers either immunized or recovered from corona will be trained by Ezer Mizion to be able to provide a treatment response for elderly quarantined patients whose needs are unmet during this time due to safety restrictions.
Avichayil is a science teacher but her real expertise lies in math. Avichayil knows – really knows – that subtraction is the best way to add. She lives quite far from Hadassah hospital and her twice weekly traveling to volunteer in the corona ward subtracts many hours from her schedule but adds so much to her life.
“I live alone. All of my children live out of town. The volunteering does a lot of good for the person who does it. It fills you; it’s so important to give of yourself to others. There is no lack of whom to give to nowadays. My children also volunteer, to the extent that they can, and my parents, too, used to volunteer in the past. They taught me all my life to look for how I can make the day brighter for someone else. That’s what I was taught and that is how I train my children and my students, too.”
Avichayil was one of the first corona patients. When she was well, she spotted an Ezer Mizion ad looking for volunteers in the corona ward. .She has been volunteering devotedly over the past few months, coming to every Corona ward or room where help is needed, even on Shabbos and Yom Tov (Sabbath and Holidays): “Suddenly, I’m on the side of the caregiver and it’s amazing! After all, I understand what the patients are going through. I know the feeling when family is not always present nearby and I’m familiar with the loneliness. I have experience: I, too, had the virus. She is now able to say to her patients, “ I was here in this very ward.” It gives them hope.
One of the 50 Ezer Mizion volunteers in the ward, Avichayil dons the hot and clumsy ‘spacesuit’ twice a week. The ‘corona alumni’ volunteers have become a vital part of the hospital community Due to the tremendous overload weighing on the caregiving staff, help was needed to provide an adequate human response, a listening ear, and aid in things like serving a cup of coffee or a drink of water, helping patients eat, and other simple everyday actions. She and the other former corona patients become the listening ear for the patient suffering from loneliness. “It means so much to them,’ she says’ for someone to be there to give them a sip of coffee, to recharge a phone so they can talk to a family member. We’re the liaison between the patient and family. A message from a daughter will light up a wan, discouraged face. . “I am part of a wonderful project. We fill the vacuum with real love. The patients become part of our own families and we become part of theirs!”
Imagine long days of loneliness at home, days of sickness, compounded by boredom and fear.
The Corona period has decreed this kind of reality on many patients and their families. A reality of sitting at home for long stretches of time in fear due to their illness and in loneliness due to Corona.
At these dark and dreary moments, the Linked to Life volunteers go into action.
The Nidam family from Netivot has isolated itself of its own accord for many long months so as not to endanger the health of the father of the family, who is a cancer patient.
At Linked to Life Southern Region, they decided to take the family out for a fun outing. Avi Pedida, a jeep driver, volunteered to go out with the family for an unforgettable day.
The day began with a luxurious breakfast prepared by a group of Linked to Life volunteers in Netivot. From there, the family went on to a hike in the Negev Mountains. They rode horses and enjoyed a swim in a private pool. They finished off the action-packed day with a scrumptious cookout. “”Words are not enough to thank the Ezer Mizion Linked to Life volunteers,” said the father of the family. “They escort and support us in the most complex moments. They are our light in this very difficult period.”
Linked to Life is a network of Ezer Mizion volunteers who work through a Whatsapp app to provide aid to patients and their families, delivering medicines, equipment, and stem cell tests, among other assignments. Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life network numbers 10,000 volunteers in Israel with many more dedicated members abroad.
She could have been living down the block from us but no one knew. She was a victim of terror with psychological wounds that never healed. Physically she was not in good shape either. She had been diagnosed in February with a severe lung infection and was extremely weak. Alone in Israel and helpless, she turned to the only address she knew. And that was how an Ezer Mizion director found a heartrending email in her inbox. Continue reading When Words and Tomatoes Join Together to Create One Big Hug