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July 05, 2003
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Guide Dog helps blind Israeli victim of Palestinian terrorism

Israeli TV Channel 1 (www.theisraelinetwork.com) has reported on the story of Eyal Noifeld, a 20-year-old Israeli who lost his sight and hearing when a homicide bomber from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad blew himself up on August 4, 2002.

Eyal, an Israeli 20-year-old Lost his sight and hearing after a Palestinian terrorist from the Islamic Jihad blows himself up in a bus

Eyal was injured when the murderous thug from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad blew himself up in a bus, murdering 9 passengers and wounding over 50 (for more details on this mass murder, click here, for a list of homicide bombings executed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Arafat's Al-Aksa brigades, click here).

Eyal explains that the Palestinian homicide bomber blew up in front of him, and the shockwave hit him directly. He had multiple broken bones and injuries to his neck, lungs, ribs, and even a bone from someone else entered his ankle. In his own words, “This was a ‘Ballagan’ (a mess), I was simply a ‘puzzle’”.

He was in a coma for days, and when he woke up, excluding the pain he was feeling from the burns and broken bones, he couldn’t hear or see.

Israeli Doctors from the Tel-Hashomer Hospital manage to restore some of Eyal's hearing through a chip

He woke up to a world where he was in pain and no one could explain to him what was going on – not the doctors, not his parents, no one – there was no way to communicate with him, since he couldn’t see or hear. He was in a black dream, hurting. He panicked and even passed out a couple of times – he thought he was in hell.

Finally, the doctors from the Tel-Hashomer hospital were able to install a hearing chip in his hear – and he was able to hear partially.

A guide dog leads a blind person through a crowded street in Tel-Aviv, Israel

The rest of the report concentrates on some of the steps Eyal would have to go through during his recovery, including how getting a guide dog might help him become a bit more independent – see below for more, including explicit steps on how you could make a difference.

Rafi Fallah lost his sight 36 years ago

Rafi Fallah, was also 20-years-old, when a mine blew up in his face in the Golan Heights during the 6-day war (see the History page for details).. He also lost his sight, and has been blind for the last 36 years.

Rafi explains to Eyal that it took him at least one year until he was able to walk alone in the street with his guide dog. One of the problems for those that become blind is that they depend completely on others for any activity – it takes time for them to understand that they can do certain things on their own, with the help of the guide dog.

Rafi's guide dog doesn't complain when Rafi gets bagels early in the morning

Rafi then explains that many times even though your family and friends wanted to help him, he felt he was a burden to them. With his guide dog, he says sometimes he’ll wake up early to get a newspaper and a bagel, and the dog does not complain that it’s too early, or that she hadn’t yet had her coffee, etc… The guide dog loves him unconditionally and helps him through his daily routine no matter what.

Eyal Noifeld is in the first stages of his recovery. He walks around the neighborhood learning how to use his stick, and discovering the neighborhood through touch.

Shmuel Sigal, from the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind says to Eyal: “The difference is that when you’re with a guide dog, the dog will take you around the motorcycle. Sometimes you won’t even know objects are there, since the guide dog will help you not bump into them.”

Once Eyal learns how to properly use the stick and he’ll know his neighborhood a bit better, he’ll go through the next stage and will receive a guide dog.

Rafi Fallach and Noah Baron have volunteered to help Eyal through these difficult moments. They explain to Eyal that having a guide dog or just using a stick is two different worlds, two different languages like comparing Hebrew to Arabic. But to get the guide dog, he must properly study and learn how to use the stick.

Eyal gets some good advice from Noah Baron from the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind

Rafi explains that sometimes when someone from his family or a friend tries to lead him somewhere, he feels his guide dog does a much better job. The friend might not pay attention to trees, rocks, and other obstructions, causing Rafi to get beat up along the way. The guide dog is especially trained to make sure the blind person does not hit such obstacles.

In Israel in the early 60s there was an organization that trained guide dogs. Unfortunately, it went bankrupt. Nine years ago, the “Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind” was created. Its goal is to give a guide dog to any blind person who requests one.

Dogs get trained to help the blind at the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind

Training and taking care of such a guide dog will cost about $20,000 dollars and the organization continues to exist only trough donations. It takes about two years for a puppy to go through proper training until he/she’s delivered as a guide dog to his blind owner.

Unfortunately, sometimes after time and money is invested in a dog, it turns out the puppy would not be an acceptable guide dog – the investment is then lost. A guide dog can properly work for 5-6 years when he/she then retires.

At the end of the show we see Rafi and Noah give a big surprise to Eyal when he receives his buddy, the training dog. The show ends while Eyal is walking, guided by a white guide dog.

Eyal meets a friendly guide dog
Eyal is guided by his buddy for the first time

For more information on the "Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind" see http://www.israelguidedog.org/ or in the US, call 215-343-0373.

For more information on tax exempt donations to the "Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind", click here.

Puppies ready to be trained to become guides for the blind
Posted by David Melle at July 05, 2003 08:15 PM
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(According to digits.com)