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Israeli medical NGO gaining steam

by Archives February 12, 2008

Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), a non-profit organization that brings children to Israel for much-needed heart surgery is now touring university campuses in Canada to raise funds.
Founded in 1995, SACH is a non-governmental organization based in Israel and dedicated to proving that in times of hardship, support and comfort can transcend divisions of culture and language. I the last 13 years, the organization has grown to include more than 70 professionals and volunteers, who treat children with heart diseases from countries throughout the developing world.
To date, SACH has preformed 1,800 cardiac surgeries in 29 different countries. The number of children treated each year has grown from 48 in 1996 to 220 in 2007.
“Even with all this funding, it’s still an uphill battle. We want to reach our goal of 250 children this year, that’s 2.5 million dollars, that’s a lot of money,” said Jonah Mink, SACH’s student coordinator. The organization is hoping to perform 250 cardiac surgeries by the end of 2008.
Once money identified, children are brought to SACH’s headquarters near the pediatric cardiac ward at the Wolfson Medical Centre in Holon, Israel. There the children and their families meet with international volunteers from Canada, United States, and Europe.
Adrienne Scholzberg, a 24-year-old Concordia Masters student in Arts and Educational Studies, visited the SACH base during her Christmas break. “When I walked into the home, a little girl ran down the stairs. She was so happy and hugged me. It was automatic love and affection,” said Scholzberg.
What inspires Mink the most about SACH is to see friendships develop between people from all over the world that otherwise would never have had the chance to meet. “Not only are their lives being saved and exposed to this kind of positive environment, when they get home they work towards strengthening co-existence and tolerance.” said Mink
Mink is touring Canada as part of a National Jewish Campus Life initiative to help spread awareness about the organization. His mission is to create partnerships with students on campuses across Canada who can then act as ambassadors for SACH to raise funds in their own communities. “Students have become a big part of SACH over the past six months,” said Mink. “One way that they get involved is through campus activities,” he continued.
One such example is political science student Rachael Segal at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Segal created a fundraising campaign for SACH, the “Small Campus, Big Heart” initiative. She is setting her sights on raising $10,000 from 10 smaller campuses across Canada to perform heart surgery on one child.
The University of Victoria has raised over $1,000 so far and the Dalhousie University in Halifax has raised over $2,800. Mink says he is stunned by the amounts raised by organizers on the ground and students at these campuses.
Mink has so far traveled to campuses and communities in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Kingston and St. Catherines, Ontario.
SACH is also looking for new ideas on how to raise more funds. Most of SACH’s funding comes from governments, the corporate sector, family foundations and individuals. The organization just received 1.5 million Euros from the European Union through their partnership for peace programs. The money will go towards treating Palestinian children, holding a Palestinian clinic, and having joint medical conferences with the Palestinian doctors.

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