Transforming the lives of children with disabilities and their families in Israel
In part 1, Paul Calvert spoke with Kalman Samuels, the co-founder of Shalva, about his son Yossi’s injury, and how that led to the founding of the most advanced centre in Israel for people with disabilities.
Paul: What is Shalva?
Kalman: Shalva is an organisation that my wife Malki and I set up 28 years ago, as a result of our son Yossi being injured by a faulty DPT vaccine in Jerusalem at the public health centre, when he was 11 months old.
Shalva means peace of mind and as I will explain, that is what we try to do.
Paul: Please could you tell me more about why were you started?
Kalman: Many children were injured in a six month period here in Israel, until they finally got rid of it.
Our life changed, but let me go back a little bit. I come from Vancouver, Canada, a totally non-religious kid. As a matter of fact my first political act in life was sitting on my mother’s shoulders on a main street in Vancouver, Canada, waiting for the new young queen to come to initiate the British Empire Games in 1954. It is funny how London and England is very much a part of British Colombia.
At the age of 18 I was on my way to France to study. I had Basketball scholarships and my mother asked me to visit Israel for two weeks on route. So I first went to England, and then came to Israel for two weeks.
Something struck me here. Actually I was standing on a beach just south of Eilat and what was Egypt, and across the Gulf of Aqaba I saw Saudi Arabia to my right, and directly in front of me I saw Jordan and to my left of course was Israel. I suddenly started to think about the fact that Vancouver is an extraordinary place to grow up, but maybe it isn’t really the centre of the world, the way I had thought it was growing up. Maybe this place with its civilisations going back thousands of years, is something I should be studying more seriously.
So I changed my plans and decided I would take the summer and study in Israel, and try to understand what was getting at me. A summer turned into another year and I slowly became religious. I really realised what I wanted to do was study and become a Rabbi and be knowledgeable in our texts.
I met my wife Malki on route and got married and had a beautiful daughter and a beautiful son, Yossi.
As I mentioned, he was injured. When that happened, our young lives got flipped on their heads. There was no-one who could really help us.
To make matters worse, the medical world, the Government, shut down any medical information that was available, because it was vaccine related. So we couldn’t even get clear medical advice.
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