Deborah Eckmann


For three months of my summer I was fortunate enough to volunteer at Save a Child’s Heart (SACH). I wasn't familiar with the organization so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Once I stepped into the children’s home I was immediately welcomed by the kids. They were just happy to see me even though they didn’t know who I was and mostly didn’t speak my language. From that moment on, I knew that this experience would hold a very special place in my heart.

When I first arrived at the home away from home, I was uncertain about how the kids would feel, considering they were far away from their homes, undergoing surgeries in Israel. However I quickly realized that despite their condition they still have a lot of energy and just want to play and run around. I had to remind myself from time to time that these kids were indeed sick, and it was important not to forget that. As the time passed, I was able to discover the interests of each child. Liyabonga enjoyed puzzles and memory games, Snothando loved playing with magnet tiles or dancing around, Eliora loved blowing bubbles or coloring and so on.

I was able to form an especially strong connection with both the kids and moms from the Ivory Coast, which only spoke French. As there was a big language barrier in the house and at the hospital, they were very thankful for my help with the translations. This allowed me to learn about the medical histories of some of the kids and gain insight into their lives back in the Ivory Coast, which was very enriching and eye opening for me. As the moms and the kids trusted me, they asked me to join them in the hospital for their weekly echocardiograms and to speak to the doctors so that the moms fully understand the next steps towards returning home.

The experiences at the hospital were very special. I had the opportunity to visit some of the kids in the ICU, which was a very unusual and scary experience for me. It was surreal to see the kids in such a fragile state, especially after having seen them running around the SACH house just a few days earlier. Nonetheless, it was clear that my visits made an impact, as they were happy to see me and wanted me to stay, either to play with them or just to talk to them.

My volunteering time with SACH exceeded all my expectations, and I feel very grateful for the opportunity I had to make a contribution to this organization. I also had the privilege of hosting a group of teenagers from Switzerland on their summer trip at SACH. It allowed them to witness what I had been doing the past three months and from what I heard they were very inspired and enjoyed it tremendously. I hope to stay connected with SACH and look forward to seeing the organization grow as it continues to provide the life-saving procedures for even more children in need!