As I write this, I’m sitting in my bedroom in Perth, Western Australia, 11,038.49 kilometres away from where I first discovered the amazing world of Magen David Adom.
To clear up what that distance means, that is the distance between Perth and Jerusalem – Jerusalem being where my eyes were first opened to what Magen David Adom actually means to us all.
It was in the middle of my “Shnat” year when we had the opportunity to either do two months in the Army, or to undertake an MDA course for ten days, where we’d learn how to deal with life-threatening situations, basic first aid, and what the true meaning of מצב (situation) is.
The first scary part of this course is the seventy or so Americans you’re staying with for 10 days. (Just joking!) You enter this world where all the little problems you have in your life seem null and void, and you start discovering what it really means to be in a life or death situation.
The 10-day course is an informal learning program where, for a few hours of the day, you’re learning the theory of first aid, and a few hours where you put that theory into practice. The 10-day course is based in Beit Yehuda, which is a hotel in Jerusalem, five minutes away from Jerusalem’s most known shopping mall, Malha Mall.
The food is, in the most appropriate use of the phrase, “to die for”, the accommodation is amazing, and most of all, the people you meet are some of the most incredible people you will ever meet in your whole life. You are all there for one reason, to learn and help people who are in need. Once the 10-day course is finished, you sit a theory and practical test. You then hit the real thing.
Suddenly, it doesn’t matter anymore if you’re Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or what background you come from – you’re there to help save lives.
A friend of mine had a situation where he had to get into an ambulance which drove to the Gaza strip. Here, an Arab baby needed to be rushed back to a hospital close by and, on the way, he had to be given CPR by my friend (who is only turns 20 this year). These are things which most people don’t even being to think of doing, especially not before their twentieth birthday. Yet this is the everyday life of these Magen David Adom volunteers.
People ask, “Why do we have MDA youth outside of Israel, when there are so many MDA stations in Jerusalem?” The reason is because MDA is an organisation made up of mostly volunteers and, without our help, support and money, MDA cannot function.
If I can recommend one thing when anyone goes to Israel, it is getting into this course and helping as much as you can, because you can only gain from MDA and they can only gain from you.