Last summer, everything was set, all my papers, my tickets and, not least, my expectations. After years of supporting the country from afar, how would it be to support Israel with my own hands and in very special mission, serving as a volunteer ad the Tsahal, the IDF? However, the afternoon before my flight, one of my two sons had an unfortunate bike accident so I had to postpone my trip and stay with him. (I am a widower, so I am the one looking after them.)
This snowy winter, though, the bicycles stayed in the garage and my sons stayed at my brother-in- law’s house, and I was finally on my way from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv!
On a Sunday in January, I met all the other volunteers and we were brought to an army base. I had the luck of joining a group of really awesome people (but possibly all Sar-El-volunteers are like that …). The guys in my bedroom were great – warmhearted and interesting people (and luckily no snorers amongst them …).
And the two boys who worked together with me at the warehouse? I must say I really miss them, as we had a great time together. The work was just to my taste. When I was a student some 25 years ago, I earned my money working at airport warehouses. So it was a bit of a leap in time for me.
In Israel, everything is organised far more spontaneously than in Europe, let alone Germany, so we had the opportunity to make the best of the situation. Lots of medicine and ambulance gear had to be sorted and stored. I am familiar with stuff like that, as I work as an urban search and rescue volunteer at home. And I was well aware that it is only rare severe incidents that make a tracheostomy necessary. And here, there were pallets with a lots of boxes containing thousands of tracheostomy tubes! You needed a forklift to move them all!
Outside the warehouse, all this young women and men serving at the base, and inside those kits apparently awaiting a worst case. Of course, reading a newspaper may lead to the same conclusion: Israel is indeed in danger and needs to be prepared. But such a hands-on experience adds an entirely different touch to it.
I will definitely be back as a volunteer!