Israeli Trekkers Help Out in Indian Floods
Israeli Trekkers Help Out in Indian Floods
August 17, 2010 -- Sometimes, even a catastrophe brings with it a positive message.
With 400 others still missing, more than 200 Israelis who had been hiking and trapped by the floods chose not to take a flight that would have evacuated them from the disaster zone. Instead, they stayed to help with the rehabilitation and relief efforts.
Matan Golan, 28, from Jerusalem, orchestrated the volunteer effort in the makeshift hospital set up in the town of Leh.
“It was a spontaneous move organized by a number of Israeli travelers who connected with other tourists and set up the field hospital,” he said. “I think everyone would have done what we did. This is how we were raised. I don't think anyone else who had come here and seen the disaster would have said to himself, ‘I'm not connecting to this,’ and just gone home.”
While Israelis made up half of all the foreign volunteers -- an impressive showing -- Golan’s training is owed to more than just his nationality.
Currently a first year medical student, Golan, who served in a special ops unit in the IDF, is one of the best instructors in Hugey Sayarut/Green Horizons, the Zionist and environmental youth development program in Israel that fosters independence, initiative, leadership, responsibility, companionship, caring, and involvement in the community through outdoor activities.
Funded in part by Jewish National Fund (JNF), Hugey Sayarut/Green Horizons has provided informal educational programming to 20,000 Israeli children over the past 30 years. Through weekly activities and monthly outdoor trips led by professional guides, participants build self confidence, independence, leadership skills, and an appreciation for the natural beauty of their country. The transformative program serves as a way of grooming better citizens and the future leadership of Israel. Graduates have gone on to become top-ranked officials in the IDF and some of the country’s most successful executives and businesspeople.
Green Horizons operates in more than 30 cities, towns, and communities across Israel. JNF is helping to expand the program’s reach into disadvantaged communities, including Negev development towns, to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity to participate.
“Golan’s upbringing, education and years in Green Horizons gave him the know-how to survive in a situation such as the floods in India, as well as provide help to others around him,” said Lavi Zamir, Green Horizon's director. “It's
The assistance from the Israeli travelers did not just take the form of physical aid; some donated money to the locals and even gave them their clothing. One girl saw the distress that people were in and decided to donate all but the clothes on her back. In addition to the fatalities, another one thousand people lost all of their belongings in the floods and were left without a roof over their heads. They were transferred to government emergency shelters after the massive amounts of water destroyed everything in its path, including road, electricity, and communication infrastructures.
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