Hadassah Nurse Janna celebrated her Birthday in the refugee camp

Janna Raikhelgauz, born in Kyiv and now a nurse in the Department of Pediatric Hemato-Oncology at Hadassah Ein Kerem, left to participate in a humanitarian mission at the Hadassah refugee clinic on the Ukrainian-Polish border. Every day, the Hadassah team provides medical assistance to hundreds of Ukrainian citizens who have fled the fighting in their hometowns.

Janna recently celebrated her birthday at the refugee center. She recalls:

“On the second day of our mission in Poland, I celebrated my 29th birthday. Before the trip, I wondered if it would feel a little lonely to celebrate like this, considering that I was away from my family and friends in Israel. I quickly discovered it was the exact opposite - I'm totally not alone.

During our activities at the Hadassah clinic, we treated a young girl who had an abortion. When I looked at her, while we were helping her, she looked just like one of my classmates and reminded me so much of her.

When I measured the blood pressure of another of our patients, I noticed that he had my grandmother's hands. Another patient, who regained consciousness after an epilepsy attack, looked at me for a moment, and his eyes were the same colour as my history teacher. A teenage girl who passed out in the bathroom after a round of sleepless nights reminded me of the neighbour I grew up with from childhood.

No. I didn't feel alone.

Suddenly, in a place far from my home, it felt so right to hug dozens of unknown people and treat them exactly as I would treat my family and friends. It felt right for me to be a safe haven for those who had only just allowed themselves to be vulnerable for the first time since the outbreak of the war, and to laugh with those who could no longer cry.

The "alone" from which I feared did not happen, thanks also to my team – amazing doctors and nurses from various departments at Hadassah, with strong and special characters and very gentle souls. At night, I prayed silently that if the people closest to me in Ukraine or beyond ever needed help, there would be another team just like this one that would hold them and take care of them.

I had the tremendous honour of being there for my people. I would like to thank the management of the Hadassah Hospital, Hadassah International management, ambassadors, the Polish government and to the medical teams for this amazing opportunity, made possible by excellent organization and great cooperation.

Thanks to you, I received the best birthday present: the possibility of making a difference in the world and a feeling of belonging."

Translated and excerpted from the May 17, 2022, issue of Maariv