Translated and excerpted from the May 17, 2022, issue of Maariv
Janna Raikhelgauz, born in Kyiv, and now a nurse in the Department of Pediatric Hemato-Oncology at Hadassah HospitalEin Kerem, is a volunteer with the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Medical Humanitarian Mission at the Przemyśl Refugee Center on the Ukrainian-Polish border. Every day, the Hadassah team provides medical assistance to hundreds of Ukrainian citizens who have fled the fighting in their hometowns.
Janna recently celebrated her birthday at the refugee center. She recalls:
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 my birthday like this, considering that I was away from my family and friends in Israel. I quickly discovered it was the exact opposite. I wasnot alone at all. At the Hadassah clinic, we treated a young girl who had an abortion. She looked just like one of my classmates and reminded me so much of her. When I measured the blood pressure of another of our patients, I noticed that he had my grandmother’s hands. When another patient, who regained consciousness after an attack of epilepsy, looked at me for a moment, I realized that his eyes were the same color as those of my history teacher. A teenage girl who passed out in the bathroom after a round of sleepless nights reminded me of the neighbor I grew up with during my childhood.
No. I didn’t feel alone.
Suddenly, in a place far from my home, it felt so right to hug dozens of unknown people and to treat them exactly as I would treat my family and friends. It felt right for me to be a safe haven for those who had only just allowed themselves to be vulnerable for the first time since the outbreak of the war, and to laugh with those who could no longer cry.
The sense of aloneness that I feared I would experience did not happen, thanks also to the strong and gentle souls of my team of amazing doctors and nurses from Hadassah. At night, I prayed silently that if the people closest to me ever needed help, there would be a team just like this one to take care of them.
I received the best birthday present—the ability to make a difference in the world and to experience a feeling of belonging.