Gillian Cairo

United States

SACH is not only for treating the hearts of children, but for providing them with a place to grow and learn at the same time.

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work as an intern at Save a Child’s Heart. I split up my time each week between going to the hospital and spending time at the house with the children and volunteers. At the hospital, I supported the recovering house children and helped out at the weekly clinic for Palestinian families. 

When I first arrived, the language barrier seemed a little bit daunting, but after just a week, the children and I had learned to communicate in other ways. Gestures such as a simple thumbs ups became full of meaning when I gave it to a child who had just come back from the hospital. Or when a child wanted a toy car, he learned to tell me what he wanted by pointing to his friend's toy car and looking at me with pleading eyes. As my summer continued, the children and I learned to interact and connect. I created meaningful connections with many of the children and their mothers. I met children who did speak English, and we talked about things that were happening in the house, our favorite songs, and learned more about each other. 

Gillian with Fatima, Iklima and Is-Haka

One 11-year-old girl named Maria had lots of questions for the interns and loved to spend time just hanging out and chatting with us. While it could be easy to focus on the surgeries and treatments these children were undergoing, there were many little moments that served as reminders that these children were just like any other kids their age. For example, I got to know an 8-year-old boy named Is-Haka who traveled to Israel for treatment alone, but more than anything loved to have dance parties. Towards the end of my time in Israel, I remember a little 2-year-old girl named Alicia greeting me with a big hug when I walked in one morning. She was normally very shy and introverted, and as soon as this happened the excitement on her mother’s face was clear. She was thrilled to see her daughter so full of energy and upbeat. 

Gillian with Victoria from Zambia

Times like these made me realize how important SACH is not only for treating the hearts of these children but for providing them with a place to grow and learn at the same time. After my stay in Israel, I am continuing to study psychology and child development with the goal of one day doing work in that field. I am so grateful for my experience at SACH and know that it will stay with me for a long time to come.