Lending Life a Hand

Photo: Training Base 20.

Twenty two soldiers from various infantry units traded their grueling training routines for one week of a different military activity. The combat soldiers participated in a special summer camp for sick children hosted by the Ordnance Academy at Training Base 20 in cooperation with Kav LaChayim

Date: 23/08/2008, 11:18 AM     Author: Muli Cohen & Elad Shalev

Twenty two soldiers from various infantry units traded their grueling training routines for one week of a different military activity. The combat soldiers participated in a special summer camp for sick children hosted by the Ordnance Academy at Training Base 20 in cooperation with Kav LaChayim, an organization that works with disabled children. “Before enrolling in the IDF (Zahal), I was certain that I would not be able to do any volunteer work,” said Corporal Nati Haddad from Nahal battalion no. 50, who has been volunteering with the Kav LaChayim for 5 years. “I was thrilled when they told me I could join the summer camp. Other than being a mitzvah (good deed), it is also very rewarding. It is simply impossible to put into words what it feels like to see a smile on these children. I think that this is no less important than any operational activity,” said Haddad.

The highlight of the summer camp was the “IDF (Zahal) Day” event on Wednesday at Beit Feldman in Netanya, which was attended by 250 children with various conditions and disabilities, including cancer, cerebral palsy and terminal illnesses. During the event, the children were given uniforms, soldier IDs, ranks and name tags. The children were also allowed to board military vehicles and see military weapons so they could feel part of the IDF (Zahal). “It is a pleasure, more than I could ever ask for,” said 12-year-old Caroline Haviv from Kav LaChayim. “When I grow up I want to be a combat soldier, and this is my chance to feel like a soldier for one day. Plus the barrette goes well with my eyes,” she added with a smile. Director of the Association, Lt. Col. (Res.) Rina Idan, said that for most of the children, this day was the only chance to ever wear uniform. “Despite being a one-day event, it is a dream come true for them,” she said while adding that 8 to 10 members of the association join the IDF (Zahal) each year.

The Ordnance Academy, which has been supporting Kav LaChayim Association for the past 13 years, was responsible for setting up the event and took care of setting up tents, improving accessibility for disabled children, and transferring military weapons, communication devices and vehicles. By the end of the event, the eyes of the Academy’s Commander Col. Ofer Golinsky gleamed with satisfaction. “I feel privileged to take part in this noble activity. This is what we teach here at the Academy: humanity as a core value,” he said. “All expenses were covered by the Academy and the Technology and Logistics Directorate, but I believe it is worth it at any cost. The smiles on the faces of these children are priceless. They bring me to tears of excitement,” said Col. Golinsky.