Volunteers from around the world help out at IDF bases

The volunteers arrived in Israel with the Sar-El program for several weeks, sharing a true IDF (Zahal) experience. This week they helped out at Northern Command bases

Date: 31/05/2012, 5:50 PM     Author: Matan Galin

Participants of the IDF (Zahal) volunteer program, Sar-El, visited a Northern Command base in the western Galilee this week, for a tour of the region and volunteer work helping out local soldiers.

Sar-El, the Israeli National Project for Volunteers enables both Jews and non-Jews of all ages and from any country to come to Israel and volunteer in the IDF (Zahal). Wearing official IDF (Zahal) uniforms, the volunteers tour Israel and package boxes of food for combat soldiers. They play an important role in handling logistical needs and annually save the IDF (Zahal) hundreds of thousands of hours in manpower. Staying in Israel for several weeks, the participants share a true IDF (Zahal) experience on IDF (Zahal) bases.

This week, the program’s volunteers spent every morning near the Lebanese border, where they participated in engineering work.

“The volunteers carry out projects like distributing camouflage nets and setting out sandbags – things that help us to maintain the operative abilities and preparedness of the soldiers serving at outposts,” said Lt. Omri Levi, the Baram Division’s deputy engineering officer responsible for the integration of volunteers in routine work. “This project helps soldiers to carry out their work in the best possible way. When the volunteers are located along the border, they understand that their contribution helps. Our connection with the group is very important and strengthens their attachment to Israel and particularly to the IDF (Zahal).”

The group consists of 15 volunteers, young and old alike, who choose to dedicate their time to the IDF (Zahal). “In the past, I volunteered in assembling communications equipment, and I felt that the work I was doing was not hard enough, so I insisted on coming here,” said David Sampson, 62, from Australia. Five years ago, while looking for a way to contribute to the IDF (Zahal), David discovered Sar-El. He currently serves as a delegate of Sar-El in Australia, working to recruit more volunteers from his country.

The age gap between the volunteers does not interfere with their work. Giovan Taber, a 21-year-old college student from the U.S., joined Sar-El while taking a year off from his studies to teach English in Petach Tikvah.  “We are proud of the IDF (Zahal). We have a lot of respect for those who serve. In the end, I may eventually decide to immigrate to Israel,” he said.
Eli, 67, from the USA, enjoys the physical work. “I came here to help the IDF (Zahal) and the State of Israel. There is an immense satisfaction. We feel like we are helping the soldiers to keep the residents safe. We really wanted to come here. As long as we could work and help out, we would,” he says.
Since 1983, Sar-El brought more than a hundred thousand volunteers to Israel. The IDF (Zahal) welcomes and appreciates these inspirational volunteers who instill motivation with their dedication and goodwill.