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Air Crew Members for Cancer Patients Release date 09.02.2015
The Israeli "Life" organization operates a special project, taking children with cancer on flights, in order to restore a sense of control over their lives. The IAF Site presents the moving initiative
Shachar Zorani | Translation: Eden Sharon

Cancer Awareness Day was marked last week, but the people of the Israeli "Life" organization do not wait for a special date to act on behalf of children with cancer. The organization, which operates different projects for children, also has a special flying project, in which children are taken on flights in light aircraft. "Each child gets his own pilot pin which says 'A pilot for life'", explains Avshalom Cohen, the chairman of "Life". "It means that after flying we hope all for the treatment to be successful and for the child to return to his normal routine".

The flights project was created 18 years ago, when Ali Rosenber, "Life" vice chairman, met with many of the ill children while volunteering in "Schneider" hospital. "We aspire to serve as the safe organized place for the child and his family, and provide them with the tools to handle the adversity", says Cohen. "One day I decided I should find a creative activity for the patients and from there came the idea".

"Control over the plane and their lives"
The project is also led by Zvika Lieberman, who, like most of the volunteers, is an IAF veteran pilot. "As a child I dreamt of being a pilot with all my heart and soul", explains Lieberman. "I know what it feels like to fly and what it does to a person who enjoys it".
These children are frequently required to deal with complicated situations and experience lack of control over their lives on a daily basis. "During the flight we let the children hold the control yoke to give them a sense of control over the plane and their lives", details Cohen.

"This activity and the other activities of the organization mean the world to my daughters", adds Shani Shar'abi Shomron, whose two daughters participate in the flights. "For them it is a dream come true. It distracts them from their diseases and releases them from their difficult routine".

Cohen refers to the pilots as "salt of the earth". "They are truly good and professional people who respond to every request with great will to give". The families say that the flight experience is very special for the children and the light in their eyes when they get off the plane says it all. The participating pilots also benefit from the experience. "I enjoy the activity and believe we have an impact on their healing process", shares Lieberman.

Another amazing IAF project is the hair donation project, in which hair stylists arrive to IAF airbases and give free haircuts to soldiers who wish to donate hair. Over 300 braids were donated last year.

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