7:00am starts, 8 hour working days, 5 days a week, or the dreaded night shift …. what kind of summer holiday had I signed myself up for? Whilst most of my friends were happily lazing on Australian beaches, I’d chosen to instead spend my holidays in wintery Israel volunteering on a Magen David Adom ambulance.
Whilst it sounds grueling I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Spending my time volunteering for MDA was one of the most exciting, rewarding and fun experiences of my life.
Having just spent the last three years studying for a Biomedical Science degree, it was incredible to get hands-on experience with many of the pathologies I’d studied. But it’s not just about the cases you see that make it such an amazing experience. Spending weeks on-end with other volunteers from around the world means you make lifelong friends. You become like a family – sharing the cooking, the supermarket shopping and having Shabbat meals together.
It’s also a wonderful way to experience living in Israel. Instead of being a tourist, you’re integrated into the workforce of the country. It’s also an opportunity to experience Israel from the inside – learning about the different people and the different cultures that make up the country.
You spend time inside people’s homes, and you transport patients from all walks of life. You also become friends with the Israelis with whom you work with and have plenty of opportunities to converse – practising and improving your Hebrew.
Whilst the drivers became somewhat hysterical at the thought of having to work extra hours, I realised 8 hours wasn’t enough – I just wanted one more call, one more emergency, one more chance to take a blood pressure.
Volunteering for Magen David Adom is somewhat of an addiction. This was my second time around volunteering for them, having done it previously three years ago – and I’m already contemplating when I might be able to do it all over again.