Last week Tuesday, volunteers from the “Ten Kavod” (Giving Honor) project of United Hatzalah made a dream come true for 81-year-old Holocaust survivor Mina Kozlanko, a resident of the town of Bnei Ayish who is homebound due to illness. Mina has often told the Ten Kavod volunteer who has been visiting her for the past eight months, Oksana Standik-Segel, that she longs to see the sea. Last week Mina got the opportunity as Oksana together with other members of the program and volunteers from the Hevel Sorek branch orchestrated a surprise and brought her to one of the beaches in Ashdod.

The volunteers, including Oksana, brought her in an ambulance and provided continuous medical supervision for the duration of the excursion.

Mina who had not been on an outing since before the Covid-19 pandemic said, “You have not only taken care of my health all this time, but today I truly feel like I have been reborn. I am at a loss for words to thank you.”

Mina was born in Moldova and moved to Russia with her family at the beginning of World War II. Then a small child, Mina lost her mother and brothers in the Holocaust and lived in an attic throughout the war in order to survive.

Oksana spoke about her impetus in making this visit to the sea possible for Mina. “Mina, like so many other senior citizens, has always been averse to feeling like she is a burden on others. Building a deeper connection beyond just medical check-ups took us time and effort. But as our bond grew stronger over time, she finally felt comfortable opening up to me. She shared her longing to see the sea, even though she hasn’t left her house in more than three years. Through our genuine relationship and the kindheartedness of the volunteers of the organization, we were able to make her dream come true.”

About the Ten Kavod project:

Ten Kavod (Giving Honor), is a project initiated by United Hatzalah that focuses on providing preventative health care and support to elderly individuals and Holocaust survivors throughout Israel by having medically trained volunteers visit with a senior citizen at least once a week in order to provide them with a free medical check-up and to spend time with them to alleviate their loneliness.

Lauren Chedva Shatrit, the coordinator of Ten Kavod in the Heval Sorek area added. “Since we established the Ten Kavod project in the area, we have been able to support dozens of elderly people and Holocaust survivors every day. Our dedicated volunteers provide them with free medical check-ups and spend at least an hour a week with them, helping to alleviate their sense of loneliness. To many of them, our volunteers have become like a surrogate family and as a result, their medical conditions have improved, and they no longer feel as lonely as before.”

“In addition to our weekly support for the elderly citizens, we strive to create meaningful and memorable experiences for them,” explained United Hatzalah Head of Development Ariel Ben David. “Whenever possible, we arrange special outings, ensuring all logistics and medical support are well taken care of, allowing them to take a break from their routine.”