During Operation Protective Edge, bulldozers played a critical role in destroying the tunnels dug by Hamas to infiltrate Israel. Among the heroes in this effort were graduates of Hadassah Neurim's Heavy Machinery program, which prepares its students to become drivers for military actions and rescue.
Shlomo Bugala, 20, is among them. Born in Ethiopia, he immigrated to Israel five years ago and shortly thereafter, matriculated to Hadassah-Neurim. The school work was a challenge for him and it was hard to keep up with students who had been going to Israeli schools all their lives. At the end of 11th grade, his spirits were low, but Village Director Natan Biton and his team had an idea: capitalizing on Shlomo's technical skills, they offered him a place in 12th grade in the Heavy Equipment Drivers Course.
Graduates of this program are in great demand by the Israel Defense Forces.
When he completed the course, he underwent military preparation for new immigrants, and then was inducted into the prestigious combat engineering division.
When the fighting in Gaza began, Shlomo and his fellow soldiers entered Gaza and took up the treacherous work of finding and dismantling the tunnels. They had to disarm booby-trapped structures, while avoiding sudden attacks from hidden terrorists.
"The Heavy Machinery program changed my life and opened so many options for me," Shlomo said. "I'm so happy and thankful that I had a chance to take part in this program. I have a good profession for my future. But, most important, I was able to serve my country in a way that saved the lives of others. This is a wonderful feeling."