Jeanne Reichelgauz, a native of Kyiv and now a nurse in the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Hadassah Ein Kerem, went on a humanitarian mission to the Hadassah Refugee Clinic on the Ukrainian-Polish border, where the Hadassah staff helps hundreds of Ukrainian citizens fleeing the fighting every day.
On the second day of our mission in Poland I celebrated my 29th birthday. Before the trip I wondered if it would feel a little lonely to celebrate like that, given the fact that I was far from my family and friends in Israel. I quickly discovered that it was quite the opposite – I am not completely alone: during our activities at the Hadassah clinic we treated a young girl who had an abortion. When I looked at her while we were helping her, she looked just like one of my classmates and reminded her so much. When I measured blood pressure for another of our patients, I noticed that he had my grandmother’s hands. Another patient, regaining consciousness after an epileptic seizure, looked at me for a moment, and his eyes were the same color as those of my history teacher. A teenage girl, who fainted in the bathroom after a round of sleepless nights, reminded me of the neighbor I had grown up with since childhood. No. I did not feel alone.
Suddenly, in a place so far from my home, it felt so right to hug dozens of anonymous people and treat them just as I would treat my family and friends. It felt right to me to be a safe place for those, who only now allowed themselves to be vulnerable for the first time since the outbreak of the war, and to laugh with those who could not cry any more. The “alone” I feared did not happen either thanks to my staff – amazing doctors and nurses from various departments at Hadassah, with a strong and special character and very gentle souls. At night, I silently prayed that if my closest people in or outside Ukraine ever needed help, there would be another team like this to hold them and take care of them.
I had the great honor of being there for my people, and I want to thank the management of Hadassah Medical Center, the management of Hadassah International, the ambassadors, the Polish government and the medical staff for this amazing opportunity, made possible by excellent organization and great cooperation. Thanks to you, I received the best birthday present: the opportunity to make a difference in the world and belong.