Shevet Achim is many things: an organization, a community, and a promise. Taking a moment to reflect on these aspects of Shevet Achim will help you better share the message and the mission in your circle, and let you understand why you are needed!
Organization: On one level, Shevet Achim is a non-profit organization, legally registered in four countries (Israel, Germany, UK, and USA) with the purpose of helping children with congenital heart defects to receive open heart surgery in Israel. The children primarily are from the Gaza Strip and Iraq. The children from Iraq, along with their parents, reside at Shevet Achim in the center of Jerusalem during their two month stay (on average) in Israel for treatment.
One of two hundred children in the world is born with a congenital heart defect. Without surgery, the child will often die at a young age, or live a severely restricted life. Access to quality healthcare in the Middle East is limited, and oftentimes children born in the region with heart defect are without recourse to the care they need to live. Israel’s modern medical centers provide a regional solution to this dilemma.
Shevet Achim’s mission since its beginning in 1994 is to connect the vital dots between sick children and Israeli doctors: securing passports for travel, communication between local and Israeli cardiologists, transportation to, from, and in Israel, lodging and board while in country, and much of the surgical costs. Because of the low cost of government subsidized medicine in Israel, combined with the unbelievable generosity of Israeli surgeons, a child can have surgery in Israel for one tenth the cost of surgery in other western nations.
Local leaders, using their talents to spread the word, will extend Shevet Achim’s ability to help sick children. Through your influence, new faces may be added to our community – individuals who wish to come to Israel and volunteer for a season, or medical personal that can perform cardiology screenings in Iraq. Funds may be collected to help finance a child’s open heart surgery in Israel. Building awareness and enthusiasm will change minds about how we interact with Muslim and Jewish communities in the Middle East.
Community: The volunteer staff of Shevet Achim, comprised of local and international workers, lives together in the same building, at 29 Prophets Street in Jerusalem. This is an important piece of our mission. A message of “brothers dwelling together” cannot be broadcast to a region if it cannot first be realized inside a home. Our volunteers share meals, work, chores, living quarters, and de facto our hearts and lives. Also in the same building are Iraqi children and their families who have come to Israel for open heart surgery. The place feels full, sometimes chaotic, and rich in opportunity to learn to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Local leaders, if they haven’t already, are encouraged to come join us in Jerusalem for a season of service and fellowship! Having touched, seen, and heard the children before and after open heart surgery, and having lived in our community, you will have something special to share when you return home. Also, our online presence is designed for community: while you share Shevet in your circle, we want to share about your sharing on our website! In our day and age, online interaction is a regular component of community, and we hope you will be active on the local leaders blog. Our community isn’t the same with you!
Promise: Last on the list, but first in importance because it is our inspiration, is the biblical promise from Psalm 133: “Behold how good and pleasant when brothers dwell together in unity, “for there God commands the blessing, life evermore.”