Israeli teens prepare for humanitarian mission to India

An Israeli high school volunteer on the ‘Pirkei Rufah’ progam demonstrates the basics of CPR to an Indian student.When you ask about her plans for next month, Tahel Ben-Yehuda won’t give you the answers typical of a 16-year-old girl. Instead …

An Israeli high school volunteer on the ‘Pirkei Rufah’ progam demonstrates the basics of CPR to an Indian student.When you ask about her plans for next month, Tahel Ben-Yehuda won’t give you the answers typical of a 16-year-old girl. Instead of discussing boys, MTV, or shopping expeditions, the teenager will excitedly tell you of her plans to travel to India on a unique humanitarian mission.

Ben-Yehuda will be part of a select group of 16 youths from across Israel heading to India to teach basic medical treatments to their peers. The group of specially-trained young Israelis, aged 16-18 years old, will teach their Indian counterparts the basics of first aid, how to maintain personal hygiene and the importance of health awareness. The trip will be the second journey to India by young Israelis taking place under the auspices of the Israeli Medical Cadet organization (‘Pirkei Refuah’in Hebrew).

“My goal for the trip to be able to pass on my knowledge of first aid to the teenagers in India and I hope that the Indian teens will be able to make use of it in the future,” says Ben-Yehuda. “I also want to expose them to Israeli culture and people, so maybe when they’re older, they’ll visit us. They’ll realize that there are good things happening in Israel.”

Ben-Yehuda’s trip will be the second such delegation organized by the organization. The trip that took place last November was beneficial to both the Israeli volunteers and the Indian students.

“The first trip was a success in every aspect. The 22 participants from all over Israel taught first aid courses to Indian children at five schools in New Delhi and surrounding villages, and there was great cooperation between the two cultures,” said Pirkei Refuah director Koby Monovich.

“We decided to take the students someplace where they could utilize their knowledge and teach others. We had the assistance of the Israeli Embassy in India, and of Ben-Gurion University who were involved in the first trip. This time, we were approached directly by a youth organization in India who asked us to return,” said Monovich.

Ben-Yehuda, a student at the Lod Science Academy, learned of the group and the trip through the Israeli first aid society Magen David Adom, where she works as a volunteer.
“After a senior in my school was went on the first delegation came to our class and told us about her experience. I decided right away that this is perfect for me and I have to go.”

Like Ben-Yehuda, most of the participants in the program participate in volunteer work during the year in different Israeli medical aid organizations and various health care facilities. The members of the team were chosen after a process of strict screening and are trained for specific tasks.

She and the other participants recently underwent a two day orientation meeting ahead of the program, which will visit different schools in and near New Delhi, “We spent two days getting to know each other and learning about the program.”

At the orientation, the Pirkei Refua staff split the group into pairs and told each couple to give the class a model lesson in English on specific aspects of medical treatment, such as CPR, heart anatomy, burns, blood circulation trauma, treating climate injuries and treating injuries by animals.

During their first trip, the participants in the program didn’t limit themselves to teaching health care. The group that traveled to India in November also worked with Indian youth to establish vegetable gardens in the countryside near Puna. The model plantation was weeded and an Israeli-style low-pressure drip irrigation system was created. After preparing the land, tomato, pepper and cabbage plants were planted. The villagers in the demonstration area, gathered to see the system and to learn the agricultural technique. Joint activities also included field trips, conversations on Judaism and Hinduism, talks on ethics, and a night of local folklore.

In its organization of the trips, Pirkei Refuah works in collaboration with Magen David Adom, The Israel Foreign Ministry, The Israel Department of Education Ministry and local Indian Authorities and IsraAID.