Meet one of our founding members, Henry Elkeslassy

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I began my volunteer activities at the age of 16, when I initiated and established the stations for the distribution of sandwiches and drinks to soldiers at the Ashdod junction every Friday. This idea caught on like wildfire and other distribution stations were established all over the country. Since then, the germ of volunteerism in me has not let up. Wherever I could help others, I immediately got on board.

I met Abie Nathan for the first time when we both started the campaign for the children of Biafra without knowing each other. I needed help and assistance in sending clothes to Biafra and people recommended that I turn to Abie, who had a large warehouse in the old port of Tel Aviv.  I have coordinated humanitarian operations in Israel and around the world to assist populations affected by natural disasters and humans. First with Abie Nathan and then independently, after Abie underwent a stroke. I continued to help him, together with other good friends.

On Independence Day in 2001, I was chosen to light a torch on Mount Herzl on an evening devoted to volunteers, for years of volunteering.

I coordinated rehabilitation activities in Turkey after the earthquake. I was a partner in the Sri Lanka aid operation after the tsunami, and later on I coordinated ongoing activities with Adi Ramot of Yotvata for the construction of a residential village, a clinic, a community center and the renovation of the orphanage, Beit Yatomot. Following the Second Lebanon War, I coordinated the "Follow Me to the North" operation, which involved 560 American students, with the aim of helping the residents of the north, rehabilitating and painting shelters, planting forests and more, with the assistance of the Schusterman Foundation with David Geffel and Yaakov Asher.

I managed the rehabilitation project of the Yemin Orde Youth Village, after the Carmel fire, at the request of Marc Salomon, who contributed greatly. Since 2007, I have distributed scholarships to volunteers in various organizations that specialize in the treatment of people with special needs. The scholarships were awarded by the Schusterman Foundation in recognition of my volunteer activities in rehabilitating the north.

After the tsunami disaster, I worked to establish the Natan organization in the name of Abie Nathan with other dear friends, and I served as chairman for three years, and I am grateful to the hundreds of wonderful people who work together and are constantly re-enlisted to the kibbutz movement.

Hoping and wishing that there will be no more disasters and that the spirit of volunteerism will continue to flow forever.

Henry