Turkey 2009 – A Dream Come True
for our Sick Children
37 children accompanied by 26 volunteers and medical staff recently enjoyed a fun-filled, action-packed 5-day trip to Anatalya in Turkey. See updated photos.
Day 1 - Sunday, March 29
We met at the airport at 10 am. Children, parents, volunteers, staff… all of us were very excited about the trip.
After calming the parents, keeping the kids happy, getting through all the checks and making sure all the food containers made it to the plane, we finally boarded at 16:00. A big thank you to the Ben-Gurion Airport staff who helped us through the logistics!
The Turkish Ambassador to Israel and his deputy came specially to the airport to wish us well and they handed out gifts to the children. Other honored guests included Rabbi David Lau and former Health Minister Nissim Dahan. Even the airport workers' union came to give each of the children a gift CD.
We had a rather unpleasant experience when we landed in Turkey. The authorities wouldn't release all the food we'd brought with us from Israel! But thanks to the intervention of the Turkish Ambassador in Israel, the food joined us two hours later at the hotel, where our chef whizzed up a belated dinner in record time!
Pictures from the first day: Singer Shiri Maimon on her way to catch a plane, stopped to hug and smile for the camera.
Day 2 – Monday, March 30
The children enjoyed a sailing trip in the morning (in a three-tiered boat) around Manbagad Island, against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped mountains and fresh flowing streams. Israeli and Turkish music accompanied the trip!
The afternoon saw a visit to the monthly Anatalya Bazaar, a unique fashion and gifts market. The children were lucky to be there at the right time and they learned about the local markets and bought a few cheap gifts for their families back home.
On the bus on the way to the sailing
Day 3 – Tuesday, March 31
08:00. Our breakfast is ready in our own private dining room in the hotel. The children are getting ready for another jam-packed day as the group doctor makes his morning rounds. Everyone's feeling great thank G-d. We're eagerly awaiting the trip to the Dudan Waterfalls, one of Anatalya's most beautiful attractions.
12:30. Here we are! Before the waterfalls, the kids enjoy a short camel ride accompanied by spontaneous dancing with other tourists who just happened to be there. Our international "wheelchair dance" was a great warm-up for the stunning Dudan Falls.
It's the largest waterfall in Turkey, flowing into the Mediterranean Sea. And we take the kids down "200 steps" to see the power of the water with their own eyes.
14:00 Another market, this time the main one in Anatalya. And what do you know? A very special sale… just for the "Friends for Health" children!
16:00 The children go wild in the local amusement park –what screams of joy!
Day 4 – Wednesday, April 1
It's jeep day today! A convoy of 25 jeeps leaves the hotel for a trek along the Kamar mountain range, rising to a height of 2,500 meters. We drive along the seashore and climb up into the snowbound peaks, cross rivers, not forgetting to stop in a cute little hut where our chef is ready with a much-welcome barbecue!
After an exhilarating day, it's sadly almost time to leave! We have a regal final banquet and a very moving farewell party.
Elation tinged with tears as the children watch a film clip of their parents sending them good wishes from Israel. The children didn't know we'd filmed their parents beforehand so it came as a big surprise, and on a big screen too! Even the most hardened volunteers couldn't stop the tears.
The party went on into the small hours with dancing, singing and a lot of fun!
15:00 Landing back in Israel!
Wow! Already back after five awesome days in Turkey – a visit from the Turkish Ambassador, an exclusive hotel shaped like a giant ship, a wonderful sailing trip, a stroll in the markets, the amusement park, a crazy jeep trek in the snow, non-stop quality Kosher food, a barbecue in the mountains, a Karaoke evening, gifts, surprises and a lot, lot more!
A massive thank you to everyone... the children, the volunteers, the National Service girls, the medical staff and of course to Itzik, our never-stopping Activities Coordinator.