January 22nd, 2018 – During the five days of the eye and mobility clinic over 360 elderly in Haifa with various degrees of disability were given canes, walkers and wheelchairs that were perfectly suited for them, selected and fitted by a team of GAiN USA professionals. This is the first ever mobility clinic of its kind in Israel. The idea to bring in mobility devices for the elderly came up during the eye clinic last year. The volunteers went to the home of a survivor who was unable to come to the clinic so they could attend to him and provide him with glasses right in his apartment. On getting there the volunteers saw that the survivor was in need of a wheelchair. Later, when discussing this case with one of Helping Hand Coalition (עמותת יד לעזרה ישראל) volunteers, they discovered that many survivors were in a similar predicament. So this year GAiN USA brought in a container with everything needed to help the survivors walk.
Mobility is another huge problem for the elderly. Many of them live alone and can not walk unsupported. As such they prefer to stay indoors as they are afraid of falling down outside. With little help in getting groceries or going to see the doctor without the support of a walker or a cane, their quality of life worsens significantly. As they came in, the elderly were briefly interviewed to discover the nature of their problem, and then examined by one of the professionals to see what mobility device would be best for them. Some were given both a walking device and a wheelchair. The volunteers showed survivors how to walk correctly with canes and walkers and how to safely sit down and get up. Each one received an additional gift of a bag and a quality hand-made blanket – both very handy and very pretty.
The survivors were amazed at the donors’ generosity and the amount of attention they received. Many shared their stories; one former captain had his birthday on the day he got his cane, and the volunteers sang “happy birthday to you” for him. The elderly were so grateful for the gifts, many of them wept and hugged the volunteers out of thankfulness.
A coordinator from one of the hostels, Tatyana, who brought 75 survivors with her, refused any personal attention in spite of strong backache till all “her” survivors received attention first. Here she is in a pink jacket, a very caring woman.
A social worker from another hostel came in with an unusual question. One of “her” elderly, who could not come herself, asked for a pink walker. As we went to the pile of walkers, there it was – just one pink walker waiting for her! The volunteers found perfectly matching pink bag and quilt to go with it. Marina, the social worker, was all smiles as she took the walker away. “I can’t believe it was there. It’s a miracle!” – said she with a smile, thanking the volunteers for the gift:
GAiN and Helping Hand Coalition for Israel volunteers made home visits and helped some survivors to transport their wheelchairs. One of the volunteers who came to Israel for the first time said she was overwhelmed by the experience. Another volunteer said it was truly moving for him to see how much effort everyone put in and how people worked with all their strength to serve the elderly.
We want to thank everyone who contributed to this clinic in any way – by being physically present or by donating the items or supporting the team in any way. We apologize for not being able to put everyone in the picture – our photographers were also our translators! The clinic was a huge success and brought much-needed relief to hundreds. Many mobility devices were also donated to local elderly homes.