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Interpreter Recounts Work with Israeli Aid Team to Japan

April 20, 2011
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Said Sati, “I think overall, patients who came, or patients that we went to visit, they were very happy for the generosity and kindness. From my perspective, the best medication that they were able to receive was the encouragement and generosity of the Israeli doctors and nurses.”

Sati heard other volunteers say they saw patients’ faces that went from worry and concerns to smiles and happiness after being treated at the Israeli clinic. In discussing why that apparently was the case, Sati noted that the Israelis had more resources, such as electricity, and also more time to give to listening to the patients. “They went the extra mile, I think, to understand what the problems are and try to bring about the treatment and understanding for the patient.”  

She said the Israeli team not only was able to encourage and help those needing medical care, but their presence was an encouragement to some of the Japanese medical staff as well, especially those that survived the tsunami.

“I got to talk personally with such a doctor and a nurse, because I worked together with them and also interpreted for them. And they both told me that they were deeply encouraged to be able to work with someone with equipment,” said Sati. “Because initially after the disaster, they were walking around the shelter checking people for their health, but all they could say was that ‘you have a cold, you have this symptom, but you have to bear with us because we don’t have any medication.’ All they had was a stethoscope maybe.”

Sati said that the Japanese medical team that came in [from outside the devastated area] brought equipment that encouraged the local doctors, and the Israelis brought even more. “The Israelis had everything that they needed: X-Ray, the blood test machines…Each doctor had enough equipment.”

According to a press release posted on the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson’s blog, the Israeli medical team was able to treat 220 patients during their time there, and just because the Israelis are leaving, that doesn’t mean their impact will end. The press release said that the majority of the medical equipment that they brought to Japan, which includes X-ray machinery and lab equipment, will stay in the country.

The mayor of the neighboring town of Kurihara, Mr. Isamu Sato, spoke at the team’s concluding ceremony: “The clinic you left behind will be a cornerstone in the restoration of our city which suffered a major disaster. I have no doubt that your important contribution in restoring the area and the generous treatment you provided to our people will be a vital donation and a milestone in the relations between Israel and Japan.”

Sati noted that her previous experience in Israel as a volunteer proved useful in her work with the Israelis, including her knowledge of Israeli culture and some basic Hebrew words and phrases. She went with them on visits to pregnant women where the Israelis were able to check on the women and their unborn children with a portable ultrasound as well as give pre-natal advice.  

Ultimately, however, what the Israelis brought with them went far beyond the physical medical aid. Sati contrasted some of the survivors’ hardships with the peace seen at the Israeli clinic. She said she saw kids playing and laughing near the clinic, as the Israelis had brought some toys with them as well.  

“I was like, ‘Oh, this is such a different place, different spirit, the atmosphere is completely different. There seems to be peace and joy in the place where there was sadness and darkness and nothingness. They lost everything.’ So I felt hope, I felt joy, I felt peace, somehow, in the Israeli clinic, it was a different atmosphere.”

She said that aside from the medical activities, “an international cultural exchange” also took place. “It was a beautiful, beautiful sight to see,” said Sati. “And I was very honored to be there. It was my honor to serve both countries in such a way.”

Editor’s Note: For more on this interview, watch for coverage on the BFP radio program, Israel Mosaic Radio, on our home page. Bridges for Peace gave a gift to Israel to help cover the financial cost of sending their medical team to Japan. If you would like to help, just click on the “Help Japan” donate link on our home page.
 

Posted on April 20, 2011

Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, April 20, 2011)

Photo Credit: IDF

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