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HUMANITARIAN — helping others in Israel and abroad


At Home: Yad Sarah


Almost everyone in Israel knows about Yad Sarah (hand of Sarah) — a huge non-profit, non-sectarian, volunteer operation. There is no organization quite like it in the world, and, while accepted as a routine part of the scene, it is a source of tremendous pride in terms of how Israel operates:

At the heart of Yad Sarah is a huge lending system, with tens of millions of dollars- worth of equipment provided short-term on an as needed-basis, free of charge. The equipment is primarily medical: crutches, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, hospital beds, electronic monitors, etc. and includes items for new mothers. A stock of over 250,000 items is maintained.

Supplemental to this is a variety of other services including rehabilitation centers, drop-in centers for the elderly and chronically ill, and an enrichment center for disabled children. There is even a center for displaying equipment that is not available for loan from Yad Sarah (e.g., orthopedic chairs for long term use), so people can be informed of what is available without needing to do research or shop around.

With over 100 locations and a budget of $13 million, Yad Sarah aims to keep the ill and the elderly at home rather than in hospitals to the greatest degree possible. Very often, being able to borrow equipment enables patients to recuperate at home or leave the hospital sooner.

The organization, with 6,000 volunteers and a paid staff of 150, serves as a model and inspiration for health and welfare professionals in other nations.

Reaching Out: Save A Child’s Heart

Save a Child’s Heart —located in the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon— provides urgently needed pediatric cardiac surgery and advanced follow-up care for children suffering congenital and rheumatic heart diseases.  They come from over 50 developing locales where adequate medical care is unavailable – in Africa, Asia east Europe and the Americas, as well as from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Morocco and Iraq.

Services are provided without regard to race, religion, gender or nationality. Save a Child’s Heart has saved the lives of more than 4,400 children.

Additionally, personnel are brought from same developing locales around the globe to be trained on site in various aspects of pediatric cardiac care.  Training may last from three months to five years; over 100 medical personnel, ranging from nurses to surgeons, have been trained.

(The logo above was designed by a patient.)

MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation

This Israeli agency lends direct assistance to developing countries, providing special expertise in areas including: irrigation, desert agriculture and combat of desertification, water management, early childhood education, community development, emergency and disaster medicine, refugee absorption and employment programs.

Eye from Zion

This Israeli non-profit brings Israeli ophthalmologists to volunteer their surgical and training expertise in developing countries.  Over 1,000 patients have received free treatment including cataract surgeries in a portable operating room donated by Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. Patients needing more complex procedures, especially children, are brought to Israel for eye surgery.

Innovation: Africa

This group brings Israeli solutions and know-how to those in need living in rural African villages. It uses solar energy to pump clean water and provide schools, orphanages and medical clinics with light and refrigeration to store vaccines and medicines.  Drip irrigation has also been installed in many villages, increasing crop yields.

Over 150 villages in eight countries have been assisted.


IsraAID is an Israeli-based non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to providing life-saving disaster relief and long term support.

The organization sends out teams of professional medics, search & rescue squads, post-trauma experts and community mobilizers; its teams are among the first to respond on the ground to provide assistance.

Teams have been sent during emergencies in such places as: Jordan, providing immediate relief to Syrian refugees; Japan, after the earthquake and tsunami; Kenya, where population was at risk of starvation; Haiti, after the massive earthquake; Philippines, following typhoons.