The Save a Child‘s Heart international Humanitarian Award Ceremony for 2015 took place on Tuesday October 6, 2015, prior to the 20th anniversary event.
The ceremony was attended by ministers, ambassadors, mayors, the management of Wolfson Medical Center, donors and supporters. The MC of the ceremony was Arad Nir, international corespondent of Channel 2, Israel. The ceremony opened with words by the Mayor of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, Mr. Ron Huldai, who welcomed the guests and praised the humanitarian work done by the medical team at Wolfson Medical Center.
Minister of Health Rabbi Yaakov Litzman spoke about the unique work of Save a Child‘s Heart at Wolfson Medical Center and expressed his support of the project.
Israel‘s deputy Prime Minister Mr. Silvan Shalom received an award from Save a Child’s Heart and spoke passionately about his special connection and support of the program.
Additional speakers at the ceremony were Dr. Yitzhak Berlovich Director of Wolfson, Professor Arie Schachner President of Save a Child‘s Heart, and Yoram Cohen chairman of Save a Child’s Heart in Israel. Mr. Morris Kahn, Save a Child’s Heart top Israeli donor, spoke on behalf of the Save a Child‘s Heart donors.
The individuals and organizations who received the awards have been exceptional in their contributions to improving access to quality health care in the developing world.
For one individual, Morris Kahn has made extraordinary contributions to Israel‘s economy and society. A successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, he approaches both ventures with equal amounts of dedication and passion. Mr. Kahn‘s interests, and therefore his influence, stretch far and wide. He helps scientists find cures for diseases through stem cell research, he has created an interactive core curriculum to help students succeed at school and among many, many other things he also helps save the lives of children from developing countries who have heart disease, and helps train medical professionals in the field of pediatric cardiac treatment through his foundation‘s support of Save a Child‘s Heart. Morris Kahn is a long-time friend and supporter of SACH, and when he gives, he gives from his heart. For his 85th birthday earlier this year, instead of receiving presents from his friends and families, he requested that they donate to two of his favorite charities, one of which was SACH. Save a Child‘s Heart is proud that Morris Kahn has taken its mission to his heart. We are proud to be associated with such an incredible human being who makes Israel, and the world, a better place.
Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Alex Waislitz’s involvement in SACH goes beyond his philanthropy. In 2012 he successfully led an international team, including his own teenage son, on a fundraising climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa‘s highest mountain – a notoriously difficult feat, to fundraise for SACH. His leadership style, which can be characterized as setting an example for others, or “dugma ishit” in Hebrew, inspires others. Just a few weeks ago 18 SACH Young Leaders from around the world followed Alex’s example and took part in another Kilimanjaro fundraising expedition. Alex’s involvement in SACH is a great honor for the organization and he provides true inspiration for the next generation of young leaders in Australia and beyond.
Ein Herz fur Kinder
In the backdrop of Israel and Germany celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations, a new Israeli- Germany partnership has helped save hundreds of children‘s lives. Since 2014, German charity, Ein Herz fur Kinder has partnered with SACH to help save children with heart disease and has directly funded heart treatment for over 150 children from developing countries around the world. Some of these children are joined us. Mr. Michael Mronz, chairman of the board of BILD hilft e. V. „Ein Herz für Kinder”, received the award on behalf of Ein Herz fur kinder.
Save a Child‘s Heart is Israel‘s largest international NGO. Its values, in particular, tikun olam, are intrinsically Jewish and Israeli.
SACH is privileged to have a strong supporter in Member of Knesset Silvan Shalom, who, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Regional Cooperation, has been an important partner to the organization.
During times of conflict, he has supported the free treatment of Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian children at the Wolfson Medical Center, through SACH and even met with these children‘s families. His support of SACH helps the organization bring hearts together and promote fraternity among nations, in particular those in the Middle East.
In 2014 Dr. Godwin Godfrey a surgeon from Tanzania completed five years of pediatric cardiac surgery training at the Wolfson Medical Center. With thanks to the generosity of the Australian Pratt Foundation who sponsored Dr. Godwin as well as training his team, Tanzania now has its first pediatric cardiac surgical team and Tanzania is a step closer to being able to treat local children with heart defects in their home country. Mr. Peter Adler received the award on behalf of Ms. Jeanne Pratt and the Pratt Foundation.
Cohen Family Representative
Almost 4,000 families around the world are blessed to have a child whose life was saved thanks to the vision of Save a Child‘s Heart founder, the late Dr. Ami Cohen. Dr. Cohen was a true humanitarian who dedicated his life to saving others. He chose medicine as his profession, a field in which he excelled. During his army service in the US medical corps he began volunteering his time to saving the lives of children with heart disease who did not have access to the medical care they needed, whilst on duty in South Korea. A few years later, after he had moved to Israel and was working as a pediatric cardiac surgeon at the Wolfson Medical Center, he was approached about two children from Ethiopia who were in desperate need of life-saving heart surgery. Dr. Cohen arranged for the children to be flown to Israel, hosted them in his home and performed their surgeries. Thus, Save A Child’s Heart was born. In its first year alone, SACH saved the lives of 48 children, today it saves over 250 children a year. The dedication of the organization to saving children regardless race, religion, gender, or nationality, is a part of this country that serves as a light unto the nations. Tragically, Dr. Cohen passed away in 2001 while still at the prime of his career and personal life. His passing left a painful void and a deep sense of loss, however the awards ceremony is a testimony to this incredible man and doctor. We are privileged that Dr. Cohen‘s wife, Debbie, was present to represent the family who keep the torch of Ami alive through their continued dedication to SACH. Mrs. Debbie Cohen, wife of the late Dr. Ami Cohen, received the award on behalf of the Cohen family.
Professor Arie Schachner
An organization like SACH relies on the dedication and good will of many people. Since its inception 20 years ago, SACH has been privileged to have benefitted from the generosity, professionalism, dedication and energy of Professor Arie Schachner. Professor Schachner was Dr. Ami Cohen‘s friend and mentor at the Wolfson Medical Center in 1995. He embraced Dr. Cohen‘s mission of treating children from developing countries and has been one of the guiding forces behind SACH since its inception. The professor founded the Department of Cardiotheracic Surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center in 1991 and led it until he retired in 2007. He was teacher and mentor to Dr. Lior Sasson, SACH‘s chief surgeon, who has, along with the rest of the team at the Wolfson Medical Center, dedicated his time to saving children from developing countries, as well as from his homeland. The professor‘s involvement in SACH did not end when he retired and last year the he was elected as the organization‘s president.If retirement slows some people down, Professor Schachner is certainly not one of them. His enthusiasm and energy is comparable to that of a man at the start of his career. He has worked tirelessly to make sure that the hall would be full of SACH supporters and friends – both old and new. Looking around, it was clear that he succeeded in his mission, as can only be expected from a man with accomplishments as distinguished as his.
Pastor Kim Clement is a formidable figure in the world of Evangelical Christianity. Together with his wife Jane, his mission includes bringing hope to the hopeless, life to the lifeless, and a place of refuge and safety for those in need. Originally from South Africa, but based in the United States, Pastor Clement is a dear friend and supporter of SACH. His contributions have helped save many children‘s lives, trained doctors and will now help us build a children‘s hospital at the Wolfson Medical Center so that more children from developing countries will be saved. Through his networks and his community Pastor Clement spreads the word of healing and love. He shares the story of SACH and his deep love for Israel. Just a couple of weeks ago, Pastor Clement suffered from sudden bleeding in the brain. His friends in at SACH in Israel joined his community in the United States to pray for his recovery. Thankfully, he is beginning to recover. During the ceremony, more than ever, our thoughts are with him, and we wish he could have joined us for this celebration which he is so closely associated with. We all wish him speedy recovery.
Just two days after the event, SACH began undertaking its biggest project yet – to build an International Pediatric Cardiac Center at the Wolfson Medical Center in a cornerstone ceremony. The center will be a children hospital and will serve Israeli children from Bat Yam, Holon Jaffa and South Tel Aviv.
Photos by: Sheila Shalhevet and Matan Shiloach